Exxon Mobil debuts 'Project Astra' to tackle methane emissions in Permian Basin

Exxon Mobil debuts 'Project Astra' to tackle methane emissions in Permian Basin 

Sergio Chapa May 19, 2020 Updated: May 19, 2020 1:42 p.m.

Irving oil major Exxon Mobil has launched Project Astra to tackle methane emissions in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

Exxon is working with the University of Texas at Austin, Environmental Defense Fund, Gas Technology Institute and Pioneer Natural Resources to deploy several types of methane-sensing technologies across the Permian Basin of West Texas.

Costs were not disclosed but the technologies will be evaluated on their ability to operate autonomously while UT researchers will use virtual reality equipment to create a simulation and a minute-by-minute model documenting methane concentration.

The simulation, expected to be completed by the end of this year, will be used to identify the types and locations of methane sensors that would be most effective in collecting data.

The project comes as environmentalists and others are concerned about flaring, the industry practice of burning excess natural gas at oil wells. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and the primary component of natural gas.

“ExxonMobil is committed to the development of technologies and partnerships that advance cost-effective solutions to reduce methane emissions," said the company's senior vice president Staale Gjervik.

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