Study Reconciles Persistent Gap in Natural Gas Methane Emissions Measurements

Credit: Colorado State University.
Operators measure methane emissions from a produced water tank at a gathering compressor station.

A new study offers answers to questions that have puzzled policymakers, researchers, and regulatory agencies through decades of inquiry and evolving science: How much total methane, a greenhouse gas, is being emitted from natural gas operations across the US? And why have different estimation methods, applied in various US oil and gas basins, seemed to disagree?

The Colorado State University (CSU) -led study, published on 29 October in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, resulted from a large, multi-institutional field campaign called the Basin Methane Reconciliation Study. The researchers found that episodic releases of methane that occur mostly during daytime-only maintenance operations, at a few facilities on any given day, may explain why total emissions accountings have not agreed in past analyses.

With invaluable assistance from industry partners, the researchers have significantly advanced basin-level emission quantification methods and shed new light on important emissions processes.

“Our study is the first of its kind, in its scope and approach,” said Dan Zimmerle, senior author of the study, and a senior research associate at the CSU Energy Institute. “It utilized concurrent ground and aircraft measurements and on-site operations data, and, as a result, reduces uncertainties of previous studies.”

Read the full story here.

Read the study here.

 

 

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