MissionNet’s Innovative Approach to Sustainable Data Collection and Emissions Monitoring

Energy Transition
An Interview with James Inglis, CEO of MissionNet

by Todd Hirsch, Director of the Energy Transition Centre

When I sat down to chat with James Inglis, a crazy quote I once saw on a coffee mug sprang to mind: “The number of things I know nothing about is growing at an alarming rate.”

But what might have been new and bewildering to me isn’t trivial. James and his company MissionNet are providing an important piece of the puzzle helping Canada’s energy industry reduce carbon emissions.

While numerous companies are focused on building the emissions sensors and analytics, MissionNet is focused on solving a fundamental problem the Energy Industry has struggled with for decades, a problem which poses a significant barrier to the large-scale deployment of any sensor system, including emissions monitoring. That problem is the Energy Industries limited ability to reliably collect data from its remote assets.

MissionNet focuses on deploying modern long-range communications technologies used by the likes of SpaceX, to enable opex reduction and system optimization for not only the energy sector, but the communities it operates within. MissionNet got its start through support from Avatar Innovations, a Calgary-based, industry-led collaboration focused on developing and implementing real-world business solutions for energy transition.

At MissionNet, the goal is to reliably collect data from low-power sensors on various assets – particularly oil and gas pipelines and upstream facilities – and send it back efficiently without having to rely on traditional cellular or satellite connectivity, which, according to James, often makes large scale monitoring either technically or economically infeasible.

James explains that ‘carrier-grade’ implies a class of product that performs with a consistent, high-level of quality, reliability, and availability. “What I mean by ‘carrier grade,’ is high grade components designed to operate for 15 years between failures in all weather conditions,” the CEO emphasizes.

The uniqueness of MissionNet lies in its strategic placement of its communications equipment on existing infrastructure, such as pipeline compressor and meter stations. “This enables us to blanket not only the energy footprint in low-cost communications but also the surrounding area,” he explains. The company’s technology, tested in extreme weather conditions, ensures reliability and long-term operation, as proven in a successful pilot with TC Energy.

“The primary focus is on empowering energy companies to monitor emissions on stranded assets, detect leaks while also enabling various system optimization and opex reduction opportunities currently out of reach.” The company’s telecom-like business model takes advantage of MissionNet’s ability to collect data from up to 30 kms away from the anchoring assets, technologically advancing the regions within proximity of oil and gas, while also providing the anchoring infrastructure with diversified revenue. It’s win-win.

Our conversation delved into MissionNet’s role in the broader energy transition, positioning the company as a crucial backbone to help scale sensor systems and analytics developed by other industry players. He hints at an expanding horizon, with plans to diversify into smart agriculture, community monitoring, and even critical infrastructure.

James acknowledges the challenge of communicating MissionNet’s broad value proposition, especially when most people aren’t familiar with the technology, or even what MissionNet does. It’s a bit of an unconventional business model. James underscores the need for refining MissionNet’s messaging to capture the essence of their unique value proposition.

And that value proposition? To use existing energy infrastructure not only for transporting fossil fuels but also as a conduit for data, contributing to a sustainable and connected future.

It might sound like something from a science fiction novel. But what MissionNet is doing today is helping Canada reduce emissions and energy inefficiency – in the energy sector, and beyond!