Latest research confirms methane leakages erase natural gas carbon advantage

Monthly mean atmospheric methane since 1985 NOAA
Monthly mean atmospheric methane concentration since 1985 NOAA

Researchers have used a combined bottom up and top down approach to determine methane emissions in the U.S. This involved measuring emissions from oil and gas facilities representing about a third of U.S. oil and gas facilities. The resulting estimates were validated by aircraft overflight or satellite observation. The results when scaled to the entire U.S. indicate that methane emissions are 60% higher than EPA estimates. This supports previous research that found that EPA estimates seriously underestimated methane emissions from oil and gas facilities. The researchers suggest that the discrepancy arises because the EPA estimates do not include emissions during abnormal operations of oil and gas facilities. This agrees with the research many years ago of Robert Howarth at Cornell who argued that leakages and other abnormal emissions of methane during fracking and other oil and gas operations erased the carbon advantage of natural gas over coal. Assessment of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain, Ramón A. Alvarez et al., Science 361, 186–188 (2018) 13 July 2018