Texas Clean Air Matters

Selected tag(s): Methane

New Research Finds Higher Methane Emissions, Reduction Opportunities in Barnett Shale Region

By: Steve Hamburg, Chief Scientist

Methane emissions from vast oil and gas operations in the densely populated Barnett Shale region of Texas are 50 percent higher than estimates based on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) greenhouse gas inventory, according to a series of 11 new papers published today in Environmental Science & Technology.

The majority of these emissions are from a small but widespread number of sources across the region’s oil and gas supply chain. These emissions come from the sort of leaks and equipment malfunctions that are relatively easy to prevent with proper and frequent monitoring and repair practices.

The sprawling Barnett region, fanning out westward from the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, contains about 30,000 oil and gas wells, 275 compressor stations, and 40 processing plants. It is one of the country’s largest production areas, responsible for 7 percent of total U.S. natural gas output.

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Protecting The Environment and Public Health Through Strong Science

Last week’s announcement of the publication of a University of Texas (UT) study examining methane emissions from U.S. natural gas production sites marks a major milestone in EDF’s efforts to better quantify the amount of methane leakage across the natural gas supply chain.  The UT study is the first installment of a major EDF initiative being conducted in partnership with leading research universities, scientists and natural gas companies.

About five years ago, EDF began looking into the emissions of air pollutants coming from natural gas operations in multiple geographic regions – including various parts of Texas.  This was a time when the industry was undergoing a dramatic growth spurt thanks to technologies such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (or ‘fracking’), which enable the commercial extraction of natural gas from deposits of shale rock located deep underground.  We quickly learned that available estimates of how much methane was emitted were fairly uncertain.

Small amounts of natural gas, which mainly consists of methane, a powerful global warming pollutant, are lost into the air as the gas coming out of the ground makes its way from the wells that produce it and through the processing and pipeline systems bringing it to consumers.   We have written elsewhere why these emissions matter for our climate, environment and public health.   Read More »

Posted in Air Pollution, Climate Change, Environment, Natural gas / Also tagged | Comments are closed