The research outputs from the The Methane and Environment Programme (MEP) have already had a positive impact on industry and policy makers in a variety of ways.

Here are some examples of where our research and expertise has been used to guide decisions on reducing emissions:

  • MEP played a key role in the development of the ‘Guiding Principles of Methane’, an agreement signed by eight of the largest oil and gas companies to commit to monitor and reduce supply chain emissions in November 2017.
  • Our work has been cited by the UK Committee on Climate Change report on the compatability of UK onshore oil and gas development with climate targets (July 2016) and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies report on methane emissions (July 2017).
  • We also contributed to, and were cited by, the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook special report on natural gas (November 2017).
  • The Programme has advised the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
  • Internationally, we have presented at the European Parliament on methane emissions from the energy industry in 2018, and the UN Palais de Nations for the UNECE Group of Experts on Gas in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
  • Dr Paul Balcombe gave the keynote presentation at the International Gas Union Methane Emissions Conference in London, March 2017.

Since the programme began in 2015, we have produced a set of key research outputs including white papers, journal articles and presentations.

White papers

Balcombe, P., Anderson, K., Speirs, J., Brandon, N., and Hawkes A. (2015) ‘Methane & CO2 emissions from the natural gas supply chain report’ Sustainable Gas Institute, Imperial College London.

The Sustainable Gas Institute’s first White Paper is a comprehensive evidence-based review of the available data on both methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural supply chain. The paper provides recommendations with the aim of assessing and improving climate mitigation potential at each stage in the chain.



BibTex format

author = {Balcombe, P and Brandon, NP and Hawkes, AD},
doi = {10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.11.223},
journal = {Journal of Cleaner Production},
pages = {2019--2032},
title = {Characterising the distribution of methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural gas supply chain},
url = {},
volume = {172},
year = {2017}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Methane and CO2 emissions from the natural gas supply chain have been shown to vary widely butthere is little understanding about the distribution of emissions across supply chain routes,processes, regions and operational practises. This study defines the distribution of total methaneand CO2 emissions from the natural gas supply chain, identifying the contribution from each stageand quantifying the effect of key parameters on emissions. The study uses recent high-resolutionemissions measurements with estimates of parameter distributions to build a probabilistic emissionsmodel for a variety of technological supply chain scenarios. The distribution of emissions resemblesa log-log-logistic distribution for most supply chain scenarios, indicating an extremely heavy tailedskew: median estimates which represent typical facilities are modest at 18 – 24 g CO2 eq./ MJ HHV,but mean estimates which account for the heavy tail are 22 – 107 g CO2 eq./ MJ HHV. To place thesevalues into context, emissions associated with natural gas combustion (e.g. for heat) areapproximately 55 g CO2/ MJ HHV. Thus, some supply chain scenarios are major contributors to totalgreenhouse gas emissions from natural gas. For methane-only emissions, median estimates are 0.8 –2.2% of total methane production, with mean emissions of 1.6 - 5.5%. The heavy tail distribution isthe signature of the disproportionately large emitting equipment known as super-emitters, whichappear at all stages of the supply chain. The study analyses the impact of different technologicaloptions and identifies a set of best technological option (BTO) scenarios. This suggests thatemissions-minimising technology can reduce supply chain emissions significantly, with this studyestimating median emissions of 0.9% of production. However, even with the emissions-minimisingtechnologies, evidence suggests that the influence of the super-emitters remains. Therefore,emissions-minimising technology is only part of the soluti
AU - Balcombe,P
AU - Brandon,NP
AU - Hawkes,AD
DO - 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.11.223
EP - 2032
PY - 2017///
SN - 0959-6526
SP - 2019
TI - Characterising the distribution of methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural gas supply chain
T2 - Journal of Cleaner Production
UR -
UR -
VL - 172
ER -