Methane emission rates originating from oil and gas production facilities are highly skewed and span 6-8 orders of magnitude. Traditional leak detection and repair programs have relied on surveys with handheld detectors at intervals of 2 to 4 times a year to find and fix emissions, however this approach leads to leaks being active for the same interval independently of their magnitude. In addition, manual surveys are labor intensive. Novel methane detection technologies offer opportunities to further reduce emissions by quickly detecting the high-emitters, which account for a disproportionate fraction of total emissions. In this work, combinations of methane detection technologies were simulated in a tiered approach for facilities representative of the Permian Basin, a region with skewed emission rates and large numbers of high-emitters, which include sensors on satellites, aircraft, continuous monitors and Optical Gas Imaging (OGI) cameras, with variations on survey frequency, detection thresholds and repair times. Results show that in oil and gas production regions with skewed emission rates and large numbers of high-emitters, strategies that increase the frequency of surveys targeting high-emitters while decreasing the frequency of OGI inspections, which find the smaller emissions, achieve higher reductions than quarterly OGI and, in some cases, reduce emissions further than monthly OGI.
Tiered Leak Detection and Repair Programs at Oil and Gas Production Facilities