Methane abatement

Methane abatement technologies include equipment and operational techniques that can be applied across oil and gas value chains to reduce emissions.

Oil pipeline in front of mountains

Key findings

Global methane emissions from the energy sector, 2000-2022


Methane emissions from the global energy sector rose to nearly 135 Mt in 2022

The global energy sector was responsible for nearly 135 million tonnes of methane emissions in 2022, a slight rise from the amount in 2021. Coal, oil and natural gas operations are each responsible for around 40 Mt of emissions and nearly 5 Mt of leaks from end-use equipment. Around 10 Mt of emissions comes from the incomplete combustion of bioenergy, largely from the traditional use of biomass. The energy sector is responsible for nearly 40% of total methane emissions attributable to human activity, second only to agriculture.

There is a huge opportunity to cut methane emissions from the energy sector. We estimate that around 70% of methane emissions from fossil fuel operations could be reduced with existing technology. In the oil and gas sector, emissions can be reduced by over 75% by implementing well-known measures such as leak detection and repair programmes and upgrading leaky equipment. In the coal sector, more than half of methane emissions could be cut by making the most of coal mine methane utilisation, or by flaring or oxidation technologies when energy recovery is not viable.

Methane emissions from fossil fuels in the Net Zero Scenario, 2000-2030


Global methane emissions increased in 2021, more action is needed by policy makers

Fossil fuel operations generate over one-third of all methane emissions from human activity. Action on methane is therefore one of the most effective steps the energy sector can take to mitigate climate change. Global methane emissions from fossil fuel operations increased by close to 5% in 2021 to over 120 Mt, mostly due to the rebound in fossil fuel production. Under the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 Scenario, total methane emissions from fossil fuel operations fall by around 75% between 2020 and 2030.

Policy makers have at their disposal well-established policy tools that have been demonstrated as effective in driving reductions in these emissions in many contexts, including leak detection and repair programmes, technology standards and bans on non-emergency flaring and venting