Energy Exchange

Industrial methane emissions are underreported, study finds

By Amanda Garris

Emissions of methane from the industrial sector have been vastly underestimated, researchers from Cornell and Environmental Defense Fund have found.

Using a Google Street View car equipped with a high-precision methane sensor, the researchers discovered that methane emissions from ammonia fertilizer plants were 100 times higher than the fertilizer industry’s self-reported estimate. They also were substantially higher than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimate for all industrial processes in the United States.

“We took one small industry that most people have never heard of and found that its methane emissions were three times higher than the EPA assumed was emitted by all industrial production in the United States,” said John Albertson, co-author and professor of civil and environmental engineering. “It shows us that there’s a huge gap between a priori estimates and real-world measurements.”

The researchers’ findings are reported in “Estimation of Methane Emissions From the U.S. Ammonia Fertilizer Industry Using a Mobile Sensing Approach,” published May 28 in Elementa. The work was funded in part by a grant from the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future’s joint research program with EDF. Read More »

Also posted in Climate / Comments are closed

Three key questions for EU policymakers considering the sustainability of gas

In response to DG Energy’s invitation that the European gas industry investigate the ways it can contribute to the reduction of methane, a powerful climate pollutant, two prominent trade groups issued a new report to inform policy discussions around the 2020 gas package – also touted as the decarbonisation package – ahead of the 32nd Madrid Forum in Spain this week.

At nearly 150 pages, the Gas Infrastructure Europe (GIE) and Marcogaz report is a substantial review of best practices for reducing oil and gas methane emissions. For all of its heft, however, the report does little to spell out any relevant policy recommendations to improve the industry’s overall efficiency, skirting its responsibility to advise the Commission on methane policy when it is such a pressing sustainability question to answer in the Union Methane Strategy before the end of 2019.

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Also posted in Europe, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Industry’s shift on methane must continue

Put aside any notion that oil and gas industry leaders might be growing less focused about methane. Whether motivated by economics or pressure from major investors, the overwhelming impression we’ve had at major industry gatherings this year has been just how deeply methane emissions have permeated the conversation.

At some moments, this year’s CERAWeek felt as much like a climate conference as an oil and gas convention.

That’s not to say the problem is solved, or that our work is anywhere near done. To the contrary, the shift is a reflection of how much more lies ahead now that the issue has been firmly established. What is clear, however, is the widespread recognition that how companies handle methane is a core business challenge that will help shape the gas industry’s prospects in a decarbonizing energy landscape.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

The Oil & Gas Methane Partnership is a valuable forum for companies aiming to earn public trust

Once considered a niche environmental concern, methane emissions have emerged as a strategic issue for oil and gas companies around the world. The reason is simple: methane emissions from human activities account for over one quarter of our planetary warming today, and the global oil and gas industry is responsible for nearly 30% of this.

Voluntary methane mitigation efforts by industry are necessary but not sufficient to fully address the scale of the problem. Government and civil society must also be engaged. At present the only global forum where industry, government and civil society come together on the issue is the Oil & Gas Methane Partnership (OGMP), an UN-backed initiative that provides companies a platform through which to report their methane emissions and credibly share their actions and results with the public.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Does new NOAA study really show that methane emissions have been overestimated? No.

By David Lyon and Stefan Schwietzke

A new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters sheds useful light on some of the technical challenges involved in understanding past trends in methane emissions, but the reporting by industry groups and some media outlets describes conclusions that are at odds with what the researchers themselves actually found.

Led by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the paper itself represents a solid analysis. But some of the secondary interpretations of the work have been vastly over-simplified, downplaying or papering over the substantial emissions increases reported by the authors.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

New Mexico’s million-ton methane problem

By Jon Goldstein and David Lyon

You can’t see what you don’t look for. That axiom is at the heart of the problem with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methane emission estimates. It is also why a new analysis based on empirical data and cutting-edge science finds a far larger methane emissions problem in New Mexico than previously thought.

EPA estimates emissions based on data reported by oil and gas operators and a set of assumptions about leak rates called “emission factors.” EDF and our research partners decided to take a closer look at emissions in New Mexico, conducting direct measurements at well facilities and applying the latest science to understand leaks in the supply chain.

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Also posted in Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Comments are closed