Multi-scale Methane Measurements at Oil and Gas Facilities Reveal Necessary Framework for Improved Emissions Accounting

26 September 2022, Version 2
This content is a preprint and has not undergone peer review at the time of posting.


Methane mitigation from the oil and gas (O&G) sector represents a key near-term global climate action opportunity. Recent legislation in the United States requires updating of current methane reporting programs for oil and gas facilities with empirical data. While technological advances had led to improvements in methane emissions measurements and monitoring, the overall effectiveness of mitigation strategies rests on quantifying spatially and temporally varying methane emissions more accurately than current approaches. In this work, we demonstrate a quantification, monitoring, reporting, and verification framework that pairs snapshot measurements with continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) to reconcile measurements with inventory estimates and account for intermittent emissions events. We find site-level emissions exhibit significant intra-day and daily emissions variation. Snapshot measurements of methane can span over three orders of magnitude and may have limited application in developing annualized inventory estimates at site-level. Consequently, while official inventories underestimate methane emissions on average, emissions at individual facilities can be higher or lower than inventory estimates. Using CEMS, we characterize distributions of frequency and duration of intermittent emission events. Technologies that allow high sampling frequency such as CEMS, paired with a mechanistic understanding of facility-level events, are key to accurate accounting of short-duration, episodic, and high-volume events that are often missed in snapshot surveys, and to scale snapshot measurements to annualized emissions estimates.


Oil and Gas
QMRV Framework
Certified Gas


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