TNO has done research on methane emission (in part) initiated by parliamentary questions. 

Parliamentary debate on 14 November 2017

Questions were asked during a parliamentary debate on the size and impact on climate change from methane leakage of the oil- and gas industry. TNO has done research (in Dutch) on assignment of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (MEACP) to answer these questions.

This report consists of two parts. The first part is a broad literature inventory of methane emission by the oil- and gas industry. The second part is a more specific analyses of methane leakage from oil- and gas wells in the Netherlands. “The present situation in the Netherlands on methane emission from the oil- and gas sector is not worry some”. It is concluded that little data is available in the public domain on well integrity issues and eventually associated methane leakage on the Dutch territory and North Sea.

The report gives some suggestions for future actions:

  • More transparency on methods to quantify methane leakage
  • Publication of yearly methane emission in the public domain
  • Reconsider offshore venting
  • Monitoring guidelines for active and abandoned wells


Parliamentary questions on 7 augustus 2018

German research institute Geomar published in 2015 and 2017 on yearly methane leakage in the order of 3.000 to 17.000 tons from wells in the North Sea. These publications got the attention from State Supervision of Mines (SodM) and also received parliamentary questions. TNO published the following report on assignment of SodM

TNO concluded that the size of methane leakage from the North Sea as published by Geomar from the North Sea bottom is inaccurate and overestimated.


Parliamentary questions on 4 augustus 2020

Geomar published in September 2020 a successor research on methane leakage from (abandoned) wells in the North Sea and concluded that the chance and size of leakage is even larger than earlier research. Again this publication sparked parliamentary questions on these “large methane leakage in the North Sea”. The Minister of MEACP answered (geantwoord) to let TNO evaluate this successor publication. TNO submitted on 23 November 2020 her evaluation as a comment to the publisher (International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control - Elsevier). The original submitted comment by TNO can be found here

TNO does not support the conclusions made by Geomar. The leakage mechanism as described by Geomar is not proven. Proven leakage mechanisms like well integrity issues or natural leakage phenomena’s are not considered as a possible leakage cause. Moreover no attempt was made to distinguish natural from anthropogenic methane leakage. Finally, each subsection (seismic interpretation, water column imaging, statistical analysis, and assessment of leakage rates) contains errors and/or hiatuses. Hence, the line of reasoning of Böttner et al. (2020) and the related conclusions are not properly supported by the results and leave room for alternative interpretations and improvements