ICYMI: New Research Shows “Major Overestimation” of Methane Emissions From Oil and Natural Gas Production

May 21, 2019

AUSTIN-A newly-released analysis found a “major overestimation” of methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations in the United States.

Since 2006, natural gas production in the United States has increased 46% and the number of producing gas wells has more than doubled in Texas. Meanwhile, the latest data shows that methane emissions associated with oil and natural gas production displayed only “modest increases” during the same time period – refuting claims from other studies that increased production has resulted in large increases in methane emissions.

The analysis, which studied atmospheric methane measurements from sites across the U.S. over a ten year period, was a collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Earth System Research Laboratory, the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

“The oil and natural gas industry is leading the way toward a cleaner, stronger energy future,” said Todd Staples, President of the Texas Oil and Gas Association.  “This study’s findings illustrate the success of the industry’s commitment to innovation and the highest operational standards based upon trusted technologies, which have resulted in the U.S. leading the world in emissions reductions during a period of robust growth in energy production.”

“It is important to note that while this analysis shows a slight upturn in methane emissions from oil and natural gas production from 2006 to 2015, data from the Environmental Protection Agency and Energy Information Administration shows that from 2011 to 2017, methane emissions from oil and natural gas production in the U.S. decreased by 24 percent,” Staples continued.

Specifically, the collaborative analysis states that:

  • there is no large increase of total methane emissions in the United States in the past decade;
  • there is a modest increase in oil and gas methane emissions, but this increase is much lower than some previous studies suggest; and
  • the assumption of a time‐constant relationship between methane and ethane emissions has resulted in major overestimation of an oil and gas emissions trend in some previous studies.

“The U.S. has led the world in emission reductions and has the cleanest air in the world, and we should expect to see these positive trends to persist with continued adoption of cutting-edge innovation and other industry-led initiatives such as The Environmental Partnership,” Staples continued. “Today’s oil and natural gas industry is delivering the energy that powers modern living with lower environmental impact and improved products and operations.”

 

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