Cloud-based geospatial analytics firm uses imagery and machine learning to monitor environmental changes such as methane emissions
BP has invested $5m in cloud-based analytics software company Satelytics through its venture capital arm, as the oil giant continues its drive to deploy a suite of methane-detecting technologies to combat climate-harming greenhouse gas leaks across its fossil gas activities.
US firm Satelytics claims to collect high resolution imagery from the planet's surface using satellites, drones, and planes, before combining these images with algorithms to "create unique electromagnetic signatures" that can be used to detect environmental changes or emissions leaks.
The investment, which was announced today, will enable Satelytics to develop its technology further and scale its applications throughout the oil and gas sector. BP Ventures said the technology could potentially play a key role in supporting BP's pledge to install methane measurements across all its major processing sites by 2023.
The move follows BP's announcement last week that it plans to write-down the value of its oil assets by up to $17.5bn as it predicts a more rapid net zero transition in the wake of Covid-19, with many analysts expecting more oil majors to follow suit in the coming months and years.
Morag Watson, BP's senior vice president of digital science and engineering, said Satelytics was "modernising the energy sector by making data about physical assets more accessible and digestible, leading to better decision making".
"We are excited to work closely alongside their unique team of scientists and technologists to help them evolve their technology and to continue to move the needle on industry digitalisation," she said.
Plugging methane leaks remains a major challenge for the oil and gas sector, as the powerful greenhouse gas has a global warming potency around 84 times stronger than CO2. Oil firms in industry investment group the OGCI have therefore pledged to cut their average methane intensity by at least one fifth by 2025.
Sean Donegan, chief executive of Satelytics, said BP's early use of its detection and quantification software "has inspired us to expand our capabilities". "BP's investment marks an inflexion point for Satelytics, which will assist us in expanding our technological capabilities and fuel future innovation," he added.
The news comes just days after trade body UK Oil and Gas unveiled a new roadmap designed to ensure the industry delivers net zero emissions from its operations by mid-century. The plan also features a target to halve emissions from production and exploration by 2030, which includes plans to crackdown on methane links and switch more oil rigs to running on electricity.
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