Researchers in the United States have noticed that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry have been significantly reduced. In some cases, the difference is 90%.
According to a new study by the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) downplays methane emissions from oil and gas production in its annual report. The research team found that emissions from oil production are 90% higher and from natural gas production 50% higher than the EPA estimates.
A research team led by Joannes Masackers, a former SEAS graduate student, has developed a method for tracking and mapping emissions totals using satellite data. So far, the data only relate to emissions across the United States, but the researchers plan to calculate emissions for individual states of the country.
Scientists have compared these models with satellite observations in 2010-2015. Using a transport model, they were able to trace the path of atmospheric emissions and identify areas throughout the United States where observations and simulations did not match.
“When we observe emissions from space, we can only see how the total volume of emissions from a particular area is exaggerated or underestimated, but we do not know the source responsible for these emissions. Since we spent so much time with the EPA figuring out where the various emissions are occurring, we could use our transport model to go back and find out which sources are responsible for these underestimated or overestimated nationally, ”the scientists noted.
They also calculated emissions based on mining processes and equipment. They noticed the largest discrepancy in emissions from oil and natural gas production.