Wednesday, April 27, 2016

One Oil Field a Key Culprit in Global Ethane Gas Increase

Location of the Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin (Credit: Click to Enlarge.
A single U.S. shale oil field is responsible for much of the past decade's increase in global atmospheric levels of ethane, a gas that can damage air quality and impact climate, according to new study led by the University of Michigan.

The researchers found that the Bakken Formation, an oil and gas field in North Dakota and Montana, is emitting roughly 2 percent of the globe's ethane.  That's about 250,000 tons per year.

"Two percent might not sound like a lot, but the emissions we observed in this single region are 10 to 100 times larger than reported in inventories.  They directly impact air quality across North America.  And they're sufficient to explain much of the global shift in ethane concentrations," said Eric Kort, U-M assistant professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, and first author of the study published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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