‘Blimp-like’ craft to monitor oil field emissions

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A 270-foot-long silver dirigible-like structure may soon ‘park’ in the stratosphere above New Mexico oil fields to monitor methane, part of a growing effort in the Mountain West to track the potent heat-trapping gas that leaks from oil and gas infrastructure.

The helium structure – also known as a high-altitude platform station, or HAPS – is the work of the New Mexico-based company Sceye, and it’s being tested as part of a collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of New Mexico, as first reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Sceye CEO and Founder Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen says the solar-powered HAPS can hover at about 65,000 feet over oil and gas fields and stay there, whereas drones must come down and satellites move. The onboard equipment can see methane particles within a meter of the source in real time and observe the rate of emission, he says, which could dramatically improve monitoring of the pollutant.

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