Study: Methane Emissions Comparable to EPA Estimates

The findings of an air quality study indicate that efforts by the oil and gas industry to minimize methane emissions from natural gas production appear to be working.

The study, “Measurements of Methane Emissions at Natural Gas Production Sites in the United States,” a collaboration between researchers at the University of Texas, the Southwestern Energy Company and testing firms URS and Aerodyne Research, was released Monday was also published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Headed by David Allen, professor and air quality expert at the Cockrell School of Engineering, the report found that methane emissions released during the production of natural gas was .42 percent of total production, and that industry efforts to minimize or eliminate emissions are working.

“This study shows that the amount of methane emissions from the natural gas production sector can be effectively minimized by applying reasonable emission capture and control practices,” said Mark Boling, V+ Development Solutions president and general counsel, in a press release.

Allen said in a media webinar that the study was the first one using “actual data,” and added that it was performed with “transparency,” and with a goal toward “seeing emissions and areas for improvement.”

The majority of hydraulically fractured well completions sampled in the study used equipment that reduced potential methane emissions by 99 percent. Researchers found measured methane emissions from certain types of pneumatic controllers accounted for 25 percent of the overall methane emissions from natural gas production.

The study also found that the measured methane emissions for some types of controllers were higher than current Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates.


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