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Tue Apr 14, 2020, 07:50 AM

U Mich Study: GOM Oil & Gas Platforms Release As Much Methane As Entire NG Supply Chain

Offshore oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are releasing twice as much methane as previously thought, according to new research from the University of Michigan. The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, sampled air above offshore oil and gas platforms in the Gulf, covering individual sites and broader areas with up to 70 facilities. Researchers found that on average, 2.9% of total reported natural gas production in the region escaped into the atmosphere as methane double the loss rate in EPA estimates.

There are three main reasons for the discrepancy, the study said: errors in the federal government's count of offshore platforms; higher emissions readings from shallow-water facilities; and a small number of older facilities that produce "episodic, disproportionally high spikes of methane emissions."

"We have known onshore oil and gas production often emits more methane than inventoried," said Eric Kort, an associate professor of climate and space sciences and engineering at the University of Michigan. "With this study, we show that this is also the case for offshore production, and that these discrepancies are large."

The 2.9% figure is comparable to the average U.S. methane loss rate throughout the entire natural gas supply chain, the study said. Researchers compared their findings, including regional airborne estimates, with EPA's greenhouse gas inventory (GHGI) and with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Gulfwide Emissions Inventory.



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