Article   |   Ian Thomas   |   23.06.2021

Navigating a path to net-zero

Expertise and experience will be crucial as industry gears up to meet the challenges of the post-COP26 economy

The ongoing global drive towards a net-zero economy is expected to shift into top gear following the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) conference in Glasgow in November 2021.

The unprecedented international cooperation designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to keep global warming well below two degrees Celsius, will have far-reaching impacts across industry, society and the environment.

Companies in oil and gas, power generation, shipping and other sectors will face a growing list of national and cross-border regulations designed to ensure compliance with carbon-cutting measures, and to recognize and reward best practice.

The ability to effectively navigate that full range of reporting standards and protocols will be crucial across a wide spectrum: tracking and measuring environmental impacts, transparently monitoring and reporting emissions, demonstrating progress towards ambitious targets, and avoiding any suggestion of greenwash.

The world of compliance, monitoring and reporting emissions, of verifying the accuracy and transparency of reported data, is integral to what we do at Vysus Group. And it is what we have been offering to the market for more than 20 years under the Lloyd’s Register Energy brand before a sales process saw us become Vysus Group in October 2020.

Piloting through the net-zero regulatory maze

The journey to net-zero can take any number of different routes but will in general travel from widespread operational improvements designed to cut emissions, through to the targeting of specific problem areas, and into step-change greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions via deployment of alternative processes, fuels or technologies.

Cost and effort increase with progress across that timeline, as does the requirement for expertise to establish meaningful and cost-effective emissions reduction measures while also navigating the regulatory environment, both before and after COP26.

Existing protocols include the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (formerly the Carbon Reduction Commitment), the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme and the Climate Change Agreements Scheme in addition to a wide range of voluntary environmental frameworks.

A number of international standards also come into play, most important are ISO 14064 for the quantification and verification of GHG emissions, but also ISOs 14001 (environmental management), 14031 (environmental performance), 14067 (carbon footprint) and 50001 (energy management).

Add in OSPAR recommendation 2003/5, AA1000AS13 from AccountAbility and ISAE3000 from the International Audit and Assurance Standard Board, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and Nationally Determined Contributions – in addition to a range of industry standards and national regulations – and the complexity of the picture begins to emerge.

Measures adopted as part of the COP26 conference will both amend and strengthen the mix as international agreements are integrated into national policy frameworks, adapted for specific industries and eventually implemented at company and ultimately project level – from concept through to design and into operations and decommissioning. Crucially, measures at all levels will cover the full range of greenhouse gasses including an anticipated increase in focus on methane.

Working across the full project lifecycle

For the growing environmental consultancy team at Vysus Group, helping clients to meet low carbon and net-zero targets, as well as securing recognition for meeting those ambitions, is a long-established business.

Operations in Aberdeen were set up in 2000 and quickly expanded to include EMS certification, EU ETS verification and OSPAR EMS verification – a heritage that benefits clients to this day – before diversifying further into GHG data verification, Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting (SECR) and non-financial assurance and oil spill financial assurance, among others.

The compliance journey begins with defining the right terms of reference for CO2 accounting and reporting, moves into defining scope, boundaries and inventory to help create a baseline carbon footprint, and then sets objectives and targets for reductions.

Procedures are then put in place for quantification and reporting, verification is carried out and – crucially – reduction measures are integrated with loss prevention and energy efficiency to maximise economic production.

On a project level, day-one engagement leads to budgetary modelling using industry-leading benchmark tools, travels through systematic efficiency improvements to plant, equipment and operations, before an initial review and gap analysis. The latter will address any issued identified in the earliest stages and establish boundaries as well as terms of reference.

Procedures for calculation will then be implemented covering – among other variables – activity data, emissions factors, data capture and integrity, competency, calibration, uncertainty and materiality.

An energy management and GHG emission improvement plan is then put in place alongside monitoring, reporting and of course independent verification. All of which feeds back into the company-wide practices, procedures and protocols for iterative improvement over the long term.

Proven results from design through to decommissioning

A wide range of businesses working in a range of different industries rely on GHG consultancy expertise.

Politics and market pressures help to shape the exact measures necessary, with regulations defining operating parameters and financial policies influencing the economics of a specific development or improvement. The post-COP26 environment will be no different. A selection of our own experiences in this area is illustrative of what can be achieved:

  • Provision of technical support and independent verification of GHG emissions for Jubail-sited oil refinery.
  • Provision of technical support and independent verification of GHG emissions for land rig fleet.
  • Provision of technical support and independent verification of GHG emissions for fleet of offshore Mobile Drilling Units.
  • Assessment of Best Available Techniques and Technologies for Project ONE Propane Dehydrogenation plant and associated utilities, planned for Antwerp, Belgium.
  • Preparation of emissions inventories for various decommissioning activities over the years.

Another area to benefit in the past, and with a big role to play going forward, is oil and gas decommissioning.

Meeting the COP26 challenge

The global agreements expected from COP26 will represent a significant global challenge as policies designed to cut emissions filter through to national plans, specific industries and individual projects.

Proven expertise will be required to navigate the various rules, regulations and schemes being developed. This will start with establishing baseline numbers, identifying areas of improvement, and deploying the best available technology. It then moves onto monitoring, reporting and independently verifying calculations to the satisfaction of both inhouse and external expectations.

And it goes beyond a single facet of any one industry – commitment to emissions reductions and compliance must extend to the full spectrum of activity, whether that is construction, operations or decommissioning.

For all of those stories, in all of their nuance and complexity, Vysus Group is ready to build on an established track record in environmental consultancy and GHG emissions management to provide next-generation guidance and expertise for the post-COP26 journey.

Vysus Group is ready to build on an established track record in environmental consultancy and GHG emissions management to provide next-generation guidance and expertise for the post-COP26 journey.

Ian Thomas

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