Marco Cota
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Carving Out a Niche in Methane Emissions Consultancy

By Conal Quinn | Mon, 09/12/2022 - 11:17

Q: Why did Talanza Energy decide to focus on solutions regarding methane emissions mitigation? 

A: Over time, we have found niche areas that require not only a high level of technical expertise but also an extensive knowledge of regulatory legislation. In the area of methane emissions, we have become experts not just in consulting but also as service providers, through Eminent, an enterprise that we launched in partnership with Canadian firm Infatech, an industry leader in methane detection and quantification with more than 15 years of experience. 

Across the board, methane emissions regulations are certainly an area we are increasingly dealing with. Our work with emissions has opened the door to the midstream and downstream sectors for the first time. We have also branched out internationally, providing consultancy to the UN on its environmental program, as well as advising the Colombian government on its new set of oil and gas regulations, the first of its kind in Latin America to specifically address methane emissions. 

Methane makes up 25 percent of all emissions that contribute to the greenhouse effect; the oil and gas industry contributes 40 percent of all methane emissions. Our goal is to work with both governments and the private sector to reach viable solutions to reduce methane emissions. We offer a viewpoint that favors a balanced approach, ensuring oil and gas operators do their part to reduce emissions without squeezing a sector that we will continue to rely on to meet energy demand. 


 

Q: How does the company support its clients in complying with data delivery regulation?

A: Data delivery regulation concerns all the obligations of upstream companies to report information, such as surveys, statistics and other figures, to the National Center of Hydrocarbon Information (CNIH). This is a new line of business for us. However, Talanza already has an extensive team of experts who understand exactly what companies need to do, not only to comply with complex CNIH regulations but to incorporate everything required to generate and produce such information in their internal processes. Delivering these pieces of geological data and rock studies to CNIH is quite a delicate subject because everything under the earth belongs to the nation and is property of the Mexican people, according to the Constitution. For this reason, we consider this work an area of hyper-specialization. Talanza is not just an office that interprets regulations and offers guidance but, rather, we are positioning ourselves as hyper-specialists in specific regulations that we consider to be critical and where oil and gas companies need the most support. Despite this being a relatively new venture for us, we have already provided data management workshops to over 40 businesses.

Aside from these hyper-specialized areas, we also offer traditional consultancy services such as helping companies assuring proper regulatory compliance in all areas, mainly CNH and ASEA requirements.

 

Q: What is the role of software in Talanza’s services?

A: We distinguish our offer of traditional consultancy with RegTech, a proprietary software system that contains a database of all the regulations broken up into more manageable bits, developed with a focus on project management. Every major obligation can be broken down into smaller activities, making each step more measurable, comprehensible and therefore easily attainable. The RegTech system also has a series of alerts that help the project manager monitor and track each process and organize teams to ensure all the regulations are being followed. RegTech has now had four years to mature and develop and we are constantly looking to install any innovations where necessary to improve the software.

 

Q: How successful has your partnership with Canadian firm Infatech proven to be?  

A: We have a solid 50/50 partnership with Infatech in our shared Eminent venture, a business we founded in the middle of the pandemic. We have already carried out various inspections for different clients and much to their surprise, we were able to present detailed images of the leaks and vents we detected. By correcting these leaks, we were able to save our clients a big payout. The industry has been a bit behind regarding methane emissions compliance in Mexico but, businesses are now obliged to carry out four Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) programs annually.

The technology Talanza employs is bottom-up OGI technology compliant with IPCC’s Tier 3 and level four OGMP 2.0 standards. It allows us to detect gas leaks from the source. Level 5 OGMP technology, which we are seeking to implement, monitors leaks from above, not necessarily from a satellite but also from airplanes and drones, which serves to validate the data we have already amassed. The top-down viewpoint enables the detection of super-emissions and helps us detect where the leak is coming from, and which component has failed.

The company is focusing on bottom-up solutions but is seeking to complement this by incorporating top-down technology, such as drones, as well as forging alliances with aviation and satellite companies. This would allow us to do flyovers in planes or helicopters to detect super-emitters.

In terms of satellites, this technology is developing very rapidly but we need much more of it. The satellite flies over the same area every two weeks, monitoring the site and taking photos of the facility. However, satellites are vulnerable to weather conditions. If it is cloudy, for example, the satellite will not be able to detect emissions very well. Moreover, if it is an offshore operation, saltwater acts like a mirror and impacts the image quality.

This technology was used in Mexico a few months ago by a team from EDF and a Spanish university to detect super-emissions from the Ku-Maloob-Zaap field cluster. The more eyes we have monitoring these issues the better. Hopefully, shortly, we will have research centers and independent analysts dedicated to covering methane emissions and making these figures more available to the public. 

 

Q) How have you been working with ASEA regarding third-party authorization to ensure compliance with the methane emissions guidelines?

A: We were the second out of four companies to be allowed to become a third-party authorizer. Now, businesses can approach us with their six-year plans to reduce methane emissions as part of the Program for the Prevention and Integral Control of Methane Emissions (PPCIEM). They then need us to offer a technical assessment. Down the line, we also help them implement their plans. However, it would be a conflict of interest if we served as both judge and partner, so we cannot formulate the plans and review them too. In such a case, the company whose plan we develop is recommended to another third-party authorizer.

 

Q: What do you make of the lack of success so far in deepwater, especially the decision of IOCs like BP and Equinor to pull out after failing to strike oil? 

A: This is what you ultimately sign up for: not every block will be a treasure trove. Nevertheless, even if companies do not make any commercially viable discoveries, the geological studies carried out in those blocks are still of great use, since they let us know where to prioritize and where not to look in the future. In this sense, I think the IOCs have done a great service to our country. We know much more now and are in a better position for future deepwater exploration than we were previously.

 

Q: What improvements does Talanza aim to carry out to make its solutions more accessible to the oil and gas industry?

A: We have plans to expand RegTech, which is quite complicated and requires an operator that we often need to provide. We then follow up with the operator every week, since they are left in charge of sending alerts, providing updates and tracking all issues. Talanza wants to get rid of that intermediary and enable the industry to use the software more autonomously. Therefore, we must simplify the software to make it easier to use, which is what we aim to achieve with RegTech Lite. This version is still in development, as is our Ventanilla Unica project, which essentially uses this same software to streamline the various laws and requirements from different areas of government and their portholes.

 

Talanza Energy is a Mexican energy consultancy founded in 2017. It guides oil and gas operators through regulations to avoid unnecessary penalties and delays and ensures compliance with all requirements.

Conal Quinn Conal Quinn Journalist & Industry Analyst