Major oil and gas producers are emitting significantly more methane than disclosed, according to new research from Signal Climate Analytics and Geofiancial Analytics, in collaboration with a year-long Reuters examination of the world’s 250 biggest emitters. Using ultra-high-resolution satellites alongside global satellite data from January to July 2021, the study compared observed emissions with expected performance based on methane intensity reports, regulatory filings, commitment to transparent reporting, and safety incidents, making it the first to attribute methane emissions to individual companies and benchmark them to reported performance.

Royal Dutch Shell and Chevron were found to be the worst performers, followed by ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and ExxonMobil, among the top 15 producers. According to the International Energy Agency’s Methane Tracker, more than 70m tonnes of methane were emitted last year – equal to the entire energy-related carbon dioxide output from Europe.

The IPCC report last week pointed to methane, a short-lived climate pollutant that degrades into carbon dioxide in the atmosphere within years but has more than 80 times greater warming effect over a two-decade period as CO2, as a significant contributor to recent climate change.

“Early action on methane emissions will be critical for avoiding the worst effects of climate change” IEA’s Executive Director Dr. Fatih Birol told Reuters. “There is no good reason to allow these harmful leaks to continue, and there is every reason for responsible operators to ensure that they are addressed.” (Reuters)