New study finds US oil and gas methane emissions 60 percent higher than estimated

June 21, 2018, University of Colorado at Boulder
Gas flaring. Credit: Jeff Peischl/CIRES and NOAA

The U.S. oil and gas industry emits 13 million metric tons of the potent greenhouse gas methane from its operations each year, 60 percent more than estimated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a new study published today in the journal Science.

Significantly, researchers found most of the emissions came from leaks, equipment malfunctions and other "abnormal" operating conditions. The climate impact of these leaks in 2015 was roughly the same as the climate impact of from all all U.S. coal-fired power plants operating in 2015, they found.

"This study provides the best estimate to date on the of oil and gas activity in the United States," said co-author Jeff Peischl, a CIRES scientist working in NOAA's Chemical Sciences Division in Boulder, Colorado. "It's the culmination of 10 years of studies by scientists across the country, many of which were spearheaded by CIRES and NOAA."

The new paper assessed measurements made at more than 400 well pads in six oil and gas production basins and scores of midstream facilities; measurements from valves, tanks and other equipment; and aerial surveys covering large swaths of the U.S. oil and gas infrastructure. The research was organized by the Environmental Defense Fund and drew on science experts from 16 research institutions including the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Texas Austin.

Methane researchers. Credit: Environmental Defense Fund

Methane, the main ingredient of , is a that has more than 80 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after its release. The new study estimates total US emissions at 2.3 percent of production, enough to erode the potential climate benefit of switching from coal to natural gas over the past 20 years. The methane lost to leakage is worth an estimated $2 billion, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, enough to heat 10 million homes in the U.S.

The assessment does suggest that repairing leaks and addressing other conditions that result in the accidental release of salrable methane could be effective. "Natural gas emissions can, in fact, be significantly reduced if properly monitored," said co-author Colm Sweeney, an atmospheric scientist in NOAA's Global Monitoring Division. "Identifying the biggest leakers could substantially reduce emissions that we have measured."

Explore further: Methane leaks from three large US natural gas fields in line with federal estimates

More information: R.A. Alvarez el al., "Assessment of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain," Science (2018). science.sciencemag.org/cgi/doi … 1126/science.aar7204

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Ojorf
3.3 / 5 (7) Jun 22, 2018
13 million metric tons per year.
Wow, almost unbelievable.
What a waste.
What a disaster.
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (1) Jun 22, 2018
So who made the estimates? Scott Pruitt?
doogsnova
1 / 5 (1) Jun 23, 2018
Everything is worse than they realize.
Human population is now over 8.85 billion.
CO2 is probably around 500 ppm.
#DOTEATCOO
ZoeBell
Jun 23, 2018
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ZoeBell
Jun 23, 2018
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ZoeBell
Jun 23, 2018
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ZoeBell
Jun 23, 2018
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ZoeBell
Jun 23, 2018
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ZoeBell
Jun 23, 2018
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rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2018
ZB, you can make all the excuses you want for kleptocracy. However conservationists, as the only practicing conservatives, do not get to make the decisions for energy production.

The rigged market forces of the Wall Street Casino bosses are the hands on the controls. Attempts at regulating poison-spewing industries are dictated by corporate bureaucraps.

A greedy lawyer is defined as the one representing the victims of your criminal activities. In a society that insists only monetary compensation is permitted as an act of restitution.
ZoeBell
Jun 24, 2018
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rrwillsj
1 / 5 (1) Jun 24, 2018
What really bugs you denier shills is when any of us 'little people' take the initiative to make our own decisions.

Here, in the Land of the Free, I am not free to reject nuclear energy.
I am not free to choose to prevent industries adding to the poisons and pollutants you are selling.
I am not free to reject the wars that subsidize your masters in the ICE and Carbon industries.
I am not free to influence the political system corrupted by your masters.

However, I am free to make an attempt to reduce my carbon footprint.
I am free to choose solar and wind power systems. You have failed in your attempts to suppress.
I am free to pick & choose the least damaging products for consumption. To choose to reduce & recycle the wastes.
I am free to encourage others to stand up against your masters outrages.. By supporting the opposition to your agitprop & campaigns of lies.
I am free to speak against you & write against you & assemble against you & vote against you.

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