Developing countries who are emerging oil and gas producers face complex challenges as the world moves away from fossil fuels to fight the climate crisis.
To help them navigate this new reality, the Commonwealth Secretariat, Chatham House and the Natural Resource Governance Institute delivered an interactive virtual training programme titled ‘Minimising Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions from the Petroleum Sector’ from 27 June to 7 July.
This was part of a larger discussion series organised by the New Producers Group (NPG) – a joint initiative established by these three partners that brings together a network of over 30 new oil and gas producing countries for peer-to-peer exchanges.
The series, called ‘Forging a New Path’, is designed to support the effective management of petroleum resources, including the integration of climate resilient strategies.
More than a hundred participants took part in the two-week course, representing ten countries (including six from the Commonwealth) with significant oil and gas discoveries: Brazil, Ghana, Guyana, Kenya, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, Suriname and Uganda.
Navigating the energy transition
Economic Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Naadira Ogeer, who served as one of the trainers, explained: “This course is part of an ongoing work programme of the NPG that supports new producers in navigating the energy transition and delivering long-term sustainable economic development.
“This is especially complex for small states and least developed countries who are most vulnerable to climate change, have been ravaged by the covid pandemic and have limited fiscal space to meet pressing needs of their citizens.
“Because they have entered the oil and gas industry relatively recently, these countries have more room and opportunity to establish good practices and align with global trends towards low-carbon energy systems. We hope to help them get on the right track early.”
She added that it is also a huge opportunity for new producers to ‘leap-frog’ mature producers and provide leadership for the sector as a whole, in terms of reducing emissions and supporting Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) - their national climate commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Cutting GHG emissions in the petroleum sector
Targeted at national petroleum regulators, environment regulators, ministries of environment, national oil corporations and other relevant government departments, the course focused on methods and technologies to help minimise the GHG footprint of oil and gas production processes.
Experts and officials discussed the importance of building projects at best-standard and examined the various sources of GHG emissions in the oil and gas value chain. They also explored tools for estimating emissions as well as best practices for developing strong sectoral policies and overcoming obstacles to minimising emissions.
Ms Ogeer added: “On the surface, petroleum producers minimising emissions seems like a paradox. But the reality is that although the actual share of the sector will decrease as more renewable energy sources are developed, in the future the world will still need oil and gas to some degree to meet global energy demands. It is therefore vital that they emit the least amount of carbon and methane as possible.
“In a carbon constrained world, oil and gas producers who can demonstrate that their projects will be at lowest emission standard could credibly argue that their resources should be prioritised over higher-emitting ones.”
She highlighted that the majority of emissions can be avoided with existing technology and at relatively little cost and often comes down to decisions on design, monitoring and maintenance.
A post-training survey showed 100 per cent of participants confirmed they had enhanced their understanding on how to minimise emissions; 80 per cent indicated they will make changes in carrying out their work as a result. They also identified common challenges to be addressed through further discussions facilitated by the NPG.
One national regulator commented: “I enjoyed a team of highly qualified and experienced professionals presenting high value information to regulators and policymakers. For me it was particularly important because at the moment my team and I are trying to make some advances in regulation and I had the opportunity to clarify some points and be introduced to valuable sources of information.”
In addition to NPG activities, the Commonwealth Secretariat is also supporting member countries to strengthening the regulatory framework for managing GHG emissions via technical assistance under its Natural Resource Programme.
Josephine Latu-Sanft Senior Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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