The first stratospheric balloon equipped with methane-detection sensors is scheduled to launch this month by San Francisco-based Scepter for ExxonMobil on the Texas side of the Permian Basin. Philip Father, CEO of Scepter, said balloons carrying hyperspectral sensors operating in short-wave infrared never have been commercially deployed to get this detailed level of data. Balloons also can uncover intermittent leaks in oil and gas production that often go undetected because they sometimes are not active when an aircraft or drone passes overhead. Father said balloons can dwell over an area of interest.
Matt Alvarado, vice president of Atmospheric and Environmental Research, said, “Scepter’s work uncovering intermittent sources with balloons will be huge for the industry and the world.” AER will work with Scepter to analyze data.
Scepter said it will launch a second balloon in April to encompass oilfields operated by Pioneer, Chevron, Occidental and other companies. He added, “It makes economic sense for oil and gas companies to mitigate their emissions.”