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Report: Methane Emissions Decline in Top Oil and Gas Basins

A new report by Energy In Depth shows that methane emissions from oil and gas development have significantly declined in many of the top producing basins across the country, even as oil and gas production has skyrocketed.

EID_methaneinfographic_10

 

Based on data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program, EID’s report shows that methane emissions from some of the most prolific shales in the United States have fallen considerably.

For example, in the basins that include the Utica and Marcellus shales, methane emissions fell by 55 percent and 10 percent, respectively.  The San Juan Basin – an area that anti-fracking activists have claimed has rising emissions – actually reduced methane emissions by six percent.  In the Anadarko Basin – which includes portions of western Oklahoma, one of the top oil and gas producing states –methane emissions decreased by 34 percent.   Substantial reductions have also been achieved in Texas, which is leading the United States in oil and gas production:  In the Permian and Gulf Coast Basins, methane emissions decreased by 9 percent and 18 percent respectively.

Despite the great progress being made to reduce emissions, environmentalists have been pushing state regulators and the U.S. EPA to impose additional and costly regulations on methane emissions.  For instance, a coalition of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and League of Conservation Voters said in a letter to President Obama,

“We urge you and your administration to build on this legacy by announcing enforceable national methane emissions standards for new and existing oil and gas sources this fall […] This is essential to protect communities across the country and reduce the pollution that is disrupting our climate…”

The data from EPA, however, show that actions already being taken by the industry are delivering substantial results.  In February, the EPA released its annual Greenhouse Gas Inventory, which also showed a decline in methane emissions from the oil and natural gas production industry. For natural gas production specifically, the EPA credited the industry for its “voluntary reductions” in methane, specifically through the use of new technologies. As the EPA observed:

“The decrease in production emissions is due to increased voluntary reductions, from activities such as replacing high bleed pneumatic devices, regulatory reductions, and the increased use of plunger lifts for liquids unloading.”

Check out EID’s infographic – Methane Emissions Decline in Top Oil and Gas Basins – to learn more.

13 Comments
  • Anonymous
    Posted at 5:31 pm, December 03, 2014 Reply

    Bakken, Eagle Ford and Marcellus, three of the top-producing shale plays in the US conveniently left off of your infographic.

  • Kim Feil
    Posted at 10:45 am, December 04, 2014 Reply

    left off Barnett Shale too…

  • Tom
    Posted at 1:17 pm, December 09, 2014 Reply

    Apparently anonymous can’t read. The Marcellus is specifically mentioned and is on the map (Appalachian Basin). The Eagle Ford is also on the map (its called Gulf Coast Basin).

    If you go read the EPA report that this is sourced from, then you will discover that there is no great conspiracy to hide data- in fact the EPA did not provide data for the Fort Worth Basin (Barnett Shale) or the Williston Basin (Bakken) in the study. Since operating practices in those basins are essentially the same as in the basins EPA studied, the results are likely to be the same.

    • Frank
      Posted at 3:57 pm, February 17, 2015 Reply

      Tom,
      Untrue on the Bakken. Surprising it is not included in the EPA report. You can very easily track vented and flared gas via the EIA or ND Dept of Mineral Resources. Methane emissions are continuing to rise.
      Production methods also aren’t the key metric to look at here, nor does it really matter what basin you’re in. (The plays studied are actually quite different.) Production methods do matter in the sense that low emissions completions help etc, but the big difference in ND, and why emissions will stay high in the near-term, is that they do not have the infrastructure (gathering system) to capture the gas effectively.

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