Sustainability Priorities Defined by Carbon Working Group

Cheryl Burgess

The IPA-led Carbon Working Group (CWG) has reached a pivotal point, with strong interest from companies from diverse sectors, who have broad priorities in sustainability performance improvement. The most recent CWG meeting, held on January 27, 2022, had the dual purpose of (1) presenting the new CWG framework to progress the low-carbon and sustainability agenda of all IPA clients and (2) discussing the priorities and aligning on key strategies and tactics to progress this effort.

The CWG Approach Going Forward

To progress the diverse topics and sector-specific needs in a structured manner, the CWG will use a three-tiered approach with the main CWG prioritizing the areas to work on, technical section defining individual topics to progress within those broad areas, and individual topics being progressed as joint-industry efforts:

  • The main CWG will comprise all companies from all sectors and meet twice a year to set the high-level agenda and align on the priority areas.
  • This main CWG will identify the sections that will meet regularly throughout the year (every 8-10 weeks) to shape, define, and progress individual topics identified by members of that particular section. The sections will be open to all companies from all sectors; companies can choose which sections to join based on their strategic priorities.
  • Multiple individual topics will then be progressed using IPA’s unique intellectual property (IP) development model.

To identify the sections to be formed, IPA used the results of two separate surveys it conducted in the weeks leading up to the meeting. These surveys had common questions to identify the sustainability priorities of the different clients, and highlight their key challenges and gaps. Based on the survey responses, and one-on-one follow-up conversations with the companies, IPA identified six major sections:

  1. GHG performance assessment
  2. Low carbon scope selection/abatement curves
  3. Electrification
  4. Circularity performance
  5. Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS)
  6. New technology commercialization

Meetings for the first four sections will kick off in March. The sections will identify and frame specific individual topics to pursue. They will define existing gaps, align on the metrics and frameworks needed to address the gaps, determine what data to collect to develop IP, and provide the data in one-on-one engagements. IPA will lead the IP development and work with industry SMEs to create the tools and frameworks to help decision makers in the industry improve their low-carbon and sustainability performance.

To address the concerns of the CCUS section, the fifth section identified above, IPA has been working with several clients to shape a multi-client research study to establish baseline cost and schedule metrics for CCUS projects globally. This study will kick off in February. A separate section to specifically address risk mitigation and performance improvement for long-term subsurface CO2 storage projects will be set up in Q3 2022.

Finally, the last topic, new technology commercialization, cuts across all the other sections and will be addressed as we shape and progress those sections. IPA has extensive expertise and has completed several research studies in areas of new technology learning curves, commercialization Best Practices, and innovation management in capital projects, and will use the knowledge to help address issues in all sections.

How to Get Involved

The January meeting ended with a highlight of the next steps and action items. IPA will ask the meeting participants to indicate their section preferences so that section meetings can begin in mid-March. Further, IPA will follow up with member companies to understand their particular challenges, priorities, and current approaches. For more information on joining the CWG, visit IPA’s Carbon Working Group page or contact us directly.

About the CWG

The CWG was launched in 2020 after an IPA survey of E&P companies revealed a gap between corporate public positions and the companies’ actual on-the-ground project readiness. IPA found different levels of maturity among the companies, as well as different standards, definitions, and practices to measure performance. The CWG fulfilled the need for a collective approach to move the industry’s low carbon and sustainability agenda forward. From the founding group of seven mostly E&P companies, the group has grown to include more than 35 member companies from diverse sectors. The goal of the working group is to develop practical, relevant, and effective frameworks to benchmark and improve the companies’ low-carbon performance and sustainability practices.

CWG accomplishments to date include developing:

  • Standard GHG Emissions Breakdown Structure for hydrocarbon producing (E&P) projects that is also applicable to refining, chemicals, and minerals projects
  • A robust project-level database of GHG emissions profiles and related practices for hydrocarbon production (E&P)
  • A framework to evaluate GHG estimate maturity and practices to measure project team readiness to meet low-carbon targets
  • Benchmarking capabilities for Total Scope 1 emissions, and for Venting, Flaring, Fugitives (VFF), for hydrocarbon producing projects
  • Cost-capacity benchmarking capabilities for all components of a CCUS project—amine-based capture, compression/dehydration, pipeline transport, injection
  • The Storage Complexity Index (SCI) to evaluate a reservoir’s complexity for long-term subsurface CO2 storage projects (saline aquifers, depleted oil, depleted gas)

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