Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Study Reveals Vast Unrecorded Oil and Gas Industry Methane Emissions

Oil and Gas Gathering Activities (Credit: huffingtonpost.com) Click to Enlarge.
A new study published today reveals that facilities that collect and gather natural gas from well sites across the United States emit about one hundred billion cubic feet of natural gas a year, roughly eight times the previous estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the segment.  The wasted gas identified in the study is worth about $300 million, and packs the same 20-year climate impact as 37 coal-fired power plants.

Until now, emissions from thousands of gathering facilities - which consolidate gas from multiple wells in an area and feed it into processing plants or pipelines - have been largely uncounted in federal statistics, yet they may be the largest methane source in the oil and gas supply chain.  Indeed, the newly identified emissions from gathering facilities would increase total emissions from the natural gas supply chain in EPA's current Greenhouse Gas Inventory by approximately 25 percent if added to the tally.

The study was conducted by scientists at Colorado State University and published today in Environmental Science & Technology.

EPA doesn't track emissions from gathering facilities separately from production activities, and there have been no estimates and almost no research on them until now.  One reason prior emissions estimates are so uncertain is because the number of facilities was completely unknown.  Without conducting a full census, the CSU researchers were able to put the figure at between 3,846 and 5,470 facilities - a wide range, but far better than the guesswork than existed previously.

A different study in the Barnett Shale recently found over 250 gathering facilities, many more than anyone realized, and confirmed they were the industry's biggest methane source in the region.

Study Reveals Vast Unrecorded Oil and Gas Industry Methane Emissions

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