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Computer Vision-Powered Continuous Methane Detection & Analytics

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Methane Leakage: Worse Than We Thought

Natural gas produces about half as much carbon dioxide (CO2) as coal when burned for energy, but there’s a catch.[1] The primary component of natural gas is methane, a greenhouse gas with 80 times the warming power of CO2.[2] As a result, natural gas is worse than coal for the environment when its production and delivery process exceeds a three-percent methane leakage rate.[3]Research suggests that the current methane leakage rate far exceeds the three-percent threshold. “We surveyed almost every oil and gas asset in the New Mexico Permian for an entire year to measure and link emissions to specific anonymized facilities,” said Evan Sherwin, co-author of a paper on methane leakage, to Stanford News. “It’s worse than we thought by a long shot.”

How much worse?  Sherwin’s team surveyed more than 26,000 gas wells over 16 months. They came up with a nine-percent methane leakage rate: about three times the threshold rate.

The Future: Strengthened Oversight & Regulation

Globally, natural gas enjoys more positive public perception than other fossil fuels. Consumers support expanding the use of natural gas over coal and oil, and demand for natural gas is growing.[4] 

However, the industry’s high methane leakage rate threatens to halt this growth. More than 100 nations have pledged to cut methane emissions by 2030,[5] and plans to reduce emissions headline strict oversight and regulation for natural gas production and delivery.[6] In 2021, the White House released an “Action Plan” proposing new “performance standards…that would significantly reduce methane emissions” The 2021 Infrastructure Bill set aside $4.7 billion to plug orphaned gas wells—a step toward enforcing such standards.[7] Stakeholders in natural gas production and delivery face a time-sensitive challenge. They must reduce their methane leakage rates before regulatory crackdowns make it through the legislative pipeline and hit their bottom line.

Our Solution: Computer Vision for Methane Leak-Detection

Methane leakage isn’t only bad for the environment; it’s bad for business. Natural gas companies are hemorrhaging profit by losing, on average, nine percent of their product in production and delivery. (From another angle, that’s the equivalent of a Burger Shack dropping every tenth patty.)

The solution, of course, is to detect and repair methane leaks as quickly as possible. But methane leakage detection and repair systems (LDRSs, for short) face a logistical challenge: methane is not observable to the human eye. So, LDRSs rely on special hyperspectral instruments.

Hyperspectral instruments often require cumbersome ground-based equipment, making methane leakage detection slow, short-range, and error-prone. Or, companies may outsource to aerial equipment contractors—an expensive partnership subject to security and privacy concerns.

Synaptiq and Hindsight Imaging Inc. have developed a third alternative: an in-house, machine vision-powered methane detection solution with continuous monitoring and built-in analytics.

Our solution leverages machine vision software—a type of artificial intelligence specialized for processing visual data—in addition to hyperspectral hardware. Stationed on-site, its lightweight hardware component (less than one square foot in diameter!) continuously collects hyperspectral images. Machine vision-powered software analyzes these images for indicators of a leak.

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The result is autonomous, 24/7 methane leakage monitoring and reporting for a fraction of the usual expense. Our solution also aggregates data over time to flag insights such as the following:

  • Cumulative product loss

  • Cumulative profit loss

  • Methane leak trends (e.g., Where/when have they been most likely to happen in the past?)

  • Predictive analytics  (e.g., Where/when are they most likely to occur in the future?)

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Get Involved: Our 2022 Pilot Program

Our 2022 pilot program is a unique opportunity for innovative, small- to mid-sized natural gas production and delivery companies to implement this new solution. There are three key steps:

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We’ve summarized the advantages of our methane leak-detection technology over conventional ground-based and aerial equipment in the venn diagram featured below.

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About Synaptiq

With over 60 clients in 20 sectors worldwide, Synaptiq is a full-scale AI consultancy delivering impactful solutions with applied machine learning and vision, natural language processing, and other data-driven techniques. If you are a law firm looking to explore digital transformation, we can help you unlock the power of AI and data science.

For more information about Synaptiq, please visit www.synaptiq.ai


Synaptiq focuses on the humankind of AI; building a better world as we lean into an age of human and machine interaction.

We believe solving serious challenges, making real impact and saving lives is worth every waking moment. So we collaborate and make thoughtful considerations across disciplines examining past, present and future models of merit. Whether history, science, math, nature, human behavior; they all inform the data and ideas that help us find answers to world-class riddles.

We keep our AI on people because AI is how we do it, humanity is why we do it.


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