Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have invited 11 organizations covering a dozen technologies to participate in the controlled testing phase of their mobile methane leak monitoring competition.

EDF and Stanford have described the competition as an independent and peer-reviewed effort to test methane detection and quantification technologies at oil and natural gas facilities. Industry advisors for the Mobile Monitoring Challenge include ExxonMobil Corp. and Schlumberger Ltd.

Leak detection technologies selected for the study are deployed via trucks (Aeris Technologies, Bluefield Technologies, Heath Consultants and University of Calgary), drones (ABB Los Gatos, Advisian, Baker Hughes, Picarro, SeekOps Inc. and University of Calgary) and planes (Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and Kairos Aerospace).

“Developing innovative solutions will be instrumental in reducing methane emissions,” said Sara Ortwein, president of ExxonMobil affiliate XTO Energy. “The Mobile Monitoring Challenge lays the groundwork to leverage novel and cost-effective technologies that could help companies find and manage emissions in a faster, more efficient way.”

Most drone and truck-based systems will be tested at Colorado State University’s Methane Emissions Technology Evaluation Center in Fort Collins, CO, by mid-May. Aircraft-mounted systems and selected drone and truck systems will be evaluated May 21-25 through independent controlled methane releases by Rawhide Leasing in Sacramento, CA. Results of the controlled trials will be published in peer-reviewed journals and used to inform product improvements.

Stanford and EDF expect to have oil and gas industry leaders piloting the most promising technologies in operating conditions next year, with a longer term goal of broad commercial use.