New Study Shows Methane Emissions at Natural Gas Production Sites Are Less Than Previously Estimated


The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently published a study of direct measurements of methane emissions from sources at 190 onshore natural gas production sites using operational practices. The estimate of total emissions from this study is similar to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent National Emissions Inventory of methane emissions from natural gas production.

However, the results of this study also demonstrated that methane emissions from new wells being made ready for continuous production captured 99% of methane emissions for the wells using methane capture or control measures. This is a substantial decrease in the EPA’s national inventory estimates from 2011. As reported by the study, the emissions measured from completion flowbacks during the study are about 600 Gg lower than the completion flowback emissions in the current EPA National Emissions Inventory.

The process of completion, which is the process of preparing a well for continuous production, is thought to be a major source of methane leaks at hydraulic fracturing sites. However, the results of the study regarding completion indicate that practices of combusting or capturing emissions from completion flowbacks lead to a reduction of methane emissions. These practices will be required by EPA regulations starting in January 2015, although some companies are already capturing escaping gases during the completion process.

Previous analyses of greenhouse gas emissions have been based on engineering estimates of emissions or measurements made downwind of well sites. This is the first comprehensive study of direct measurements of methane emissions at natural gas production sites throughout the United States.

The study was conducted by the University of Texas and was funded by the Environmental Defense Fund and nine petroleum companies. 


Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Stoel Rives LLP | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.