US methane emissions greater than thought, in recent years?

June 21, 2018

Methane leakage from the U.S. oil and natural gas supply chain is greater than previously estimated, researchers report. U.S. oil and natural gas production has been growing steadily in the last decade. Although natural gas, in particular, releases less carbon dioxide than fossil fuels during combustion, the overall climate impact of natural gas also depends on how well plants and pipelines can corral leaky methane, which has a high global warming impact. By 2012 in the U.S., disagreement related to published estimates of methane emissions led to consensus that more data was needed. This spurred many studies to better characterize U.S. methane emission rates between 2012 and 2016. Here, Ramón Alvarez et al. integrated these measurements, many of which were captured in bottom-up (BU) approaches that quantify total facility-scale emissions (versus component-specific estimates), to provide an improved assessment of methane emissions from the oil and natural gas supply chain. Focusing on production regions accounting for about 30% of U.S. gas production, Alvarez and his team validated their BU emissions with a top-down (TD) approach involving aircraft, finding agreement across sites evaluated. Finally, the researchers scaled their facility-level findings to estimate leaks nationally, reporting that supply chain emissions in 2015, for example, were about 60% greater than estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency's Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This discrepancy is likely a result of existing inventory methods not capturing methane emissions that occur during abnormal operating conditions, like malfunctions, the authors say. Their results suggest paths for reducing methane emissions, including further research into causes of abnormal emissions.

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Natural Gas Articles from Brightsurf:

Study reveals how to improve natural gas production in shale
A new hydrocarbon study contradicts conventional wisdom about how methane is trapped in rock, revealing a new strategy to more easily access the valuable energy resource.

A new material for separating CO2 from industrial waste gases, natural gas, or biogas
With the new material, developed at the University of Bayreuth, the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) can be specifically separated from industrial waste gases, natural gas, or biogas, and thereby made available for recycling.

Study of natural gas flaring finds high risks to babies
Researchers from USC and UCLA have found that exposure to flaring -- the burning off of excess natural gas -- at oil and gas production sites is associated with 50% higher odds of preterm birth, compared with no exposure.

Sweet or sour natural gas
Natural gas that contains larger amounts of hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S) and carbon dioxide (CO(2)) is termed sour gas.

Visualizing chemical reactions, e.g. from H2 and CO2 to synthetic natural gas
Scientists at EPFL have designed a reactor that can use IR thermography to visualize dynamic surface reactions and correlate it with other rapid gas analysis methods to obtain a holistic understanding of the reaction in rapidly changing conditions.

Effects of natural gas assessed in study of shale gas boom in Appalachian basin
A new study estimated the cumulative effects of the shale gas boom in the Appalachian basin in the early 2000s on air quality, climate change, and employment.

The uncertain role of natural gas in the transition to clean energy
A new MIT study examines the opposing roles of natural gas in the battle against climate change -- as a bridge toward a lower-emissions future, but also a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural-gas leaks are important source of greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles
Liyin He, a Caltech graduate student, finds that methane in L.A.'s air correlates with the seasonal use of gas for heating homes and businesses

Enhanced natural gas storage to help reduce global warming
Researchers have designed plastic-based materials that can store natural gas more effectively.

Natural gas storage research could combat global warming
To help combat global warming, a team led by Dr.

Read More: Natural Gas News and Natural Gas Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to