Methane emissions from natural gas production are significantly decreasing even as natural gas production, including fracking, is rapidly increasing.
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas in coordination with the Environmental Defense Fund (“EDF”) found that methane emissions from the upstream portion of the supply chain are approximately 10 percent lower than the same research teams found in its study released in September 2013. Moreover, this new study showed that the majority of emissions came from a small number of sites, which suggests that methane leakage is a fixable problem because much of the industry appears to be successfully managing methane leakage.
This study, published earlier today in two parts in the Environmental Science & Technology Journal, finds that methane emissions from the upstream portion of the supply chain comprise only 0.38 percent of production. This rate also parallels the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) estimates for methane emissions. The EPA observed earlier this year that methane emissions from fracking have decreased by 73 percent since 2011. Methane emissions from U.S. natural gas systems have declined by nearly 17 percent since 1990. The EPA’s data, which is generally validated by today’s study, suggest a leakage rate of only about 1.5 percent.
The following chart, which accompanied the study, shows total methane emissions of 2,185 gigagrams (“Gg”), or approximately 0.38 percent of total natural gas withdrawals and production in 2012, according to data from the United States Energy Information Administration.
Last week, Energy In Depth released a report finding decreases in methane emissions in many large shale basins across the country, including in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
All of these recent findings rebut the claims of groups that oppose fracking on the basis of methane leakage.