Quantifying methane emissions from the largest oil-producing basin in the United States from space

Yuzhong Zhang*, Ritesh Gautam, Sudhanshu Pandey, Mark Omara, Joannes D. Maasakkers, Pankaj Sadavarte, David Lyon, Hannah Nesser, Melissa P. Sulprizio, Daniel J. Varon, Ruixiong Zhang, Sander Houweling, Daniel Zavala-Araiza, Ramon A. Alvarez, Alba Lorente, Steven P. Hamburg, Ilse Aben, Daniel J. Jacob

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Using new satellite observations and atmospheric inverse modeling, we report methane emissions from the Permian Basin, which is among the world's most prolific oil-producing regions and accounts for >30% of total U.S. oil production. Based on satellite measurements from May 2018 to March 2019, Permian methane emissions from oil and natural gas production are estimated to be 2.7 ± 0.5 Tg a−1, representing the largest methane flux ever reported from a U.S. oil/gas-producing region and are more than two times higher than bottom-up inventory-based estimates. This magnitude of emissions is 3.7% of the gross gas extracted in the Permian, i.e., ~60% higher than the national average leakage rate. The high methane leakage rate is likely contributed by extensive venting and flaring, resulting from insufficient infrastructure to process and transport natural gas. This work demonstrates a high-resolution satellite data-based atmospheric inversion framework, providing a robust top-down analytical tool for quantifying and evaluating subregional methane emissions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberaaz5120
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalScience advances
Volume6
Issue number17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2020

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