A new Colorado State University study has found wide variations in the amount of methane being emitted at U.S. natural gas gathering facilities and processing plants.
In the most comprehensive field study to date on these little-researched natural gas sectors, researchers at CSU, Carnegie Mellon University and Aerodyne Research took samples at 114 gathering stations and 16 processing plants across 13 states.
AdvertisementThe findings indicate facility-level methane emissions ranged from less than 1 kilogram per hour to 698 kilograms per hour, while loss rates ranged from less than 0.01 percent to greater than 10 percent. All of the stations with loss rates greater than 10 percent were smaller facilities with lower natural gas throughput.
"This is an exciting study because it is, by far, the largest and most comprehensive data set ever collected on direct methane emissions from the gathering sector. The results point to the gathering sector likely being a notable source of emissions and identify areas where emission reductions can be achieved," said Anthony Marchese, a CSU professor of mechanical engineering who led the study.
The team's findings were published in the journal of Environmental Science & Technology. Researchers are using the measurement data to develop an estimate of total methane emissions from all gathering and processing facilities in the country. The results are expected to be published in the coming months.