WTMS Sponsors | Technical Workgroup | Project Description | Timeline

West Texas Methane Showdown (WTMS)
A Test Performed under Project Astra

The objective of the West Texas Methane Showdown (WTMS) is to identify stationary, point sensors capable of measuring enhancements of atmospheric concentrations of methane. Successful technologies will be eligible to advance on to the Project Astra Pilot - a full demonstration to observe the performance of shared constellations of sensors for low-cost, high frequency methane emissions detection across the oil and gas industry. Therefore sensors should also be capable of performing within a continuous mesh monitoring network that could ultimately operate at a cost comparable to current periodic, manual inspections typically deployed in leak detection and repair (LDAR) programs.

Goals. The primary goal for the WTMS is to identify strong performing, low cost methane detection sensors, capable of reporting ambient methane concentrations (not rate or flux) on a high frequency, with a temporal resolution of no less frequent than 2 hours. Underlying analytics and accompanying systems will not be evaluated for performance in this initial challenge; we will only need the devices to transmit concentration of methane in air. We are requesting your donated participation and loaned instrument for this test; however, winners might expect purchases in a future Project Astra Pilot. Costs will become important for future deployments after the WTMS. For devices with sensitivity in the 100-1000 ppb range, target device costs at scale could be up to US$5,000 per device, while devices with sensitivity in the 1-10 ppb sensitivity may have higher costs per device.

The WTMS will be conducted over a period of 6 months beginning in 2020. An independent, third-party performance evaluation will be conducted by the University of Texas and results from successful sensors will be published in peer reviewed journals, as well as showcased in other public communications.

Future Phases of Work. Successful sensors tested in the West Texas Methane Showdown can advance to additional phases of project Astra including network optimization through the "digital methane challenge", and subsequent potential inclusion in a large mesh network demonstration pilot. The mesh pilot would involve lease or purchase of a large number of sensors. Mesh networks are intelligent networks of wireless devices that transmit and receive data from one another. Data can move individually or by "hopping" from one node to another until it reaches the recording and transmitting device.

The WTMS challenge is part of the larger Project Astra program that aims to deploy a successful pilot mesh system into The Permian Basin by 2022.