Volatile organic compound emissions from the oil and natural gas industry in the Uintah Basin, Utah: oil and gas well pad emissions compared to ambient air composition
Abstract. Emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with oil and natural gas production in the Uintah Basin, Utah were measured at a ground site in Horse Pool and from a NOAA mobile laboratory with PTR-MS instruments. The VOC compositions in the vicinity of individual gas and oil wells and other point sources such as evaporation ponds, compressor stations and injection wells are compared to the measurements at Horse Pool. High mixing ratios of aromatics, alkanes, cycloalkanes and methanol were observed for extended periods of time and for short-term spikes caused by local point sources. The mixing ratios during the time the mobile laboratory spent on the well pads were averaged. High mixing ratios were found close to all point sources, but gas well pads with collection and dehydration on the well pad were clearly associated with higher mixing ratios than other wells. The comparison of the VOC composition of the emissions from the oil and natural gas well pads showed that gas well pads without dehydration on the well pad compared well with the majority of the data at Horse Pool, and that oil well pads compared well with the rest of the ground site data. Oil well pads on average emit heavier compounds than gas well pads. The mobile laboratory measurements confirm the results from an emissions inventory: the main VOC source categories from individual point sources are dehydrators, oil and condensate tank flashing and pneumatic devices and pumps. Raw natural gas is emitted from the pneumatic devices and pumps and heavier VOC mixes from the tank flashings.