Closing the gap: Explaining persistent underestimation by US oil and natural gas production-segment methane inventories

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Authors

Jeffrey S Rutherford, Evan D Sherwin, Arvind P Ravikumar , Garvin A Heath, Jacob Englander, Daniel Cooley, David Lyon, Mark Omara, Quinn Langfitt, Adam R Brandt

Abstract

Methane (CH4) emissions from oil and natural gas (O&NG) systems are an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States (US), recent synthesis studies of field measurements of CH4 emissions at different spatial scales are ~1.5x-2x greater compared to official Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) greenhouse gas inventory (GHGI) estimates. Site-level field studies have isolated the production-segment as the dominant contributor to this divergence. Based on an updated synthesis of measurements from component-level field studies, we develop a new inventory-based model for CH4 emissions using bootstrap resampling that agrees within error with recent syntheses of site-level field studies and allows for isolation of differences between our inventory and the GHGI at the equipment-level. We find that venting and malfunction-related emissions from tanks and other equipment leaks are the largest contributors to divergence with the GHGI. To further understand this divergence, we decompose GHGI equipment-level emission factors into their underlying component-level data. This decomposition shows that GHGI inventory methods are based on measurements of emission rates that are systematically lower compared with our updated synthesis of more recent measurements. If our proposed method were adopted in the US and other jurisdictions, inventory estimates could become more accurate, helping to guide methane mitigation policy priorities.

DOI

https://doi.org/10.31223/X5JC7T

Subjects

Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment, Oil, Gas, and Energy

Keywords

Methane emissions

Dates

Published: 2020-11-03 08:31

Last Updated: 2020-11-11 12:13

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License

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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Conflict of interest statement:
None

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