NOAA study shows high methane leaks in gasfields

Uintah Basin - Uth

Uinta Basin – Utah

While the oil & gas industry and the state of Colorado dither over whether drilling adversely affects air quality and public health, and order up more studies they continue to ignore the data that exists. Most likely because it doesn’t tell them what they want to hear.

Recent studies show alarmingly high methane emissions from oil and gas fields in Utah and Colorado. In February 2012, a study indicated that up to 4% of the methane produced at the Denver-Julesberg basin (Weld County) was escaping into the atmosphere, which is considered very high. Those results prompted NOAA’s latest examination of the Uinta Basin in Utah, and found more than twice that rate of methane escapes into the atmosphere. Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado in Boulder, reported their findings at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union last month. Preliminary results from this new field study in the Uinta Basin indicate 9% rates of methane leakage.

“We were expecting to see high methane levels, but I don’t think anybody really comprehended the true magnitude of what we would see,” says Colm Sweeney, who led part of the study at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder.

To put those numbers into perspective, in 2011, the EPA doubled its estimate of natural gas leakage to 2.4% from well to city (production and delivery of natural gas). That figure has been used to tout the benefits of natural gas over coal-fired power plants. Results from both the Denver study and the Utah study blow that number out of the water.

Of course these studies have spawned more studies – it’s the nature of the beast. Researchers want to know if high methane leakage is occurring in other gasfields across the country. If that’s the case then this will confirm what those of us living in these gas basins have known for years. Oil & gas development not only poisons our water and air, it’s causing climate change.

Methane leaks erode green credentials of natural gas

Methane Leaks From Natural Gas Production Higher Than Anticipated

Bridge To Nowhere? NOAA Confirms High Methane Leakage Rate Up To 9% From Gas Fields, Gutting Climate Benefit

Bridge to nowhere?

What will it take to get sustained benefits from natural gas?
Examining the climate impacts of methane leakage from natural gas

GarCo gas wells

Piceance Basin – Garfield County

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One Comment on “NOAA study shows high methane leaks in gasfields”

  1. Tod Tibbetts Says:

    No wonder those of us in the gas patch are getting sicker. I find it interesting that when NOAA publishes studies on coal fired plant emissions, the Natural Gas Industry quotes the studies, but when the truth comes out on the pollution they are causing, they question the science and start shopping around for institutions where they can buy “scientific study” results that are in their favor.

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