Natural gas production from “shale” formations (fine-grained sedimentary rocks with relatively low permeability that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas) is one of the most rapidly-growing trends in U.S. domestic energy exploration and production. In some cases, this fast expansion has resulted in natural gas drilling and production activity in parts of the country that have seen little or no activity of this type in the recent past.
The use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has caused a dramatic rise in oil and natural gas production in the United States and some international locations in recent years. Because natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, large scale switching from coal to gas for power generation has the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
However, methane is the primary component of natural gas and is also an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Methane emission estimates from the oil and gas industry vary widely; however, lower bound estimates suggest that at least 1–2% of the product is lost to the atmosphere throughout the value chain, which includes exploration, production, transportation, processing and distribution. This is highly problematic for the climate, since according to the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC 2013], methane has a global warming potential 86 times higher than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas over the 20 years following its release into the atmosphere. Minimizing methane emissions is a necessary step on the pathway to slowing the rate of climate change over the next few decades.
Natural gas deposits are forecast to make the U.S. energy independent and a net energy exporter in the coming decades. To efficiently and safely achieve this goal, energy producers and regulators need a highly accurate, quick and simple means of measuring fugitive emissions of methane (the principal constituent of natural gas, and a powerful greenhouse gas). As a result, there is an urgent need to better understand methane release along the Oil & Natural Gas supply system.
A number of universities, research facilities and O&G companies are very proactive and eagerly looking for monitoring solutions to ensure clean operations. This indicates there is presently a significant societal desire to address climate change by reducing emissions from equipment leaks and a significant business opportunity to develop technology that can more efficiently detect those leaks so they can be more easily repaired and controlled.
Gas Plume Imaging LLC (GPI) is a company providing tracegas monitoring services using networks of revolutionary sensorsfor O&G and related industries. GPI was founded in January 2014 by Larry Gordley and David Fritts of GATS Inc., leading experts in atmospheric remote sensing with a successful history of relevant projects for NASA, NSF and other U.S. government agencies. GPI was formed to commercialize specific gas detection technologies, based on the intellectual property that GATS has developed and improved over the past 30 years.
Currently there is no efficient and affordable way to monitor gas releases over large areas. GPI’s patented PIGC™ technology fills that void with grid deployment of a novel sensor, representing a paradigm shift in the gas detection market.
GPI sensors address a massive total gas detection market ($10 B), including methane in the O&G (fracking production, processing, and refining) with a serviceable market of $250 M that is expected to grow by 15–20% per year. GPI is currently focused on building instrument prototypes for testing at industrial sites to prepare for volume commercialization. GPI now has near‐term opportunities to form close industrial partnerships and customer relationships that require capital.
Key partners are on-board; technology has been demonstrated: the genesis of PIGC™Sentinel networks is underway.