01 Nov 2021

01 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Quantification and assessment of methane emissions from offshore oil and gas facilities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf

Amy Foulds1, Grant Allen1, Jacob T. Shaw1, Prudence Bateson1, Patrick A. Barker1, Langwen Huang1, Joseph R. Pitt1,a, James D. Lee2, Shona E. Wilde2, Pamela Dominutti2,b, Ruth M. Purvis2, David Lowry3, James L. France3, Rebecca E. Fisher3, Alina Fiehn4, Magdalena Pühl4, Stéphane J. B. Bauguitte5, Stephen A. Conley6, Mackenzie L. Smith6, Tom Lachlan-Cope7, Ignacio Pisso8, and Stefan Schwietzke9 Amy Foulds et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL, United Kingdom
  • 2Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories, Department of Chemistry, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5DD, United Kingdom
  • 3Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX, United Kingdom
  • 4Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 5FAAM Airborne Laboratory, National Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, Building 146, College Road, Cranfield, MK43 0AL, United Kingdom
  • 6Scientific Aviation, Inc., 3335 Airport Road Suite B, Colorado 80301, United States
  • 7British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Cambridge, CB3 0ET, United Kingdom
  • 8Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Kjeller, Norway
  • 9Evironmental Defense Fund, Berlin, Germany
  • anow at: School of Chemistry, University of Bristol, Cantock’s Close, Bristol, BS8 1TS, United Kingdom
  • bnow at: Laboratoire de Météorologie Physique, Université Clermont Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrrand, 63000, France

Abstract. The oil and gas (O&G) sector is a significant source of methane (CH4) emissions. Quantifying these emissions remains challenging, with many studies highlighting discrepancies between measurements and inventory-based estimates. In this study, we present CH4 emission fluxes from 21 offshore O&G facilities collected in 10 O&G fields over two regions of the Norwegian Continental Shelf in 2019. Emissions of CH4 derived from measurements during 13 aircraft surveys were found to range from 2.6 to 1200 t year−1 (with a mean of 211 t year−1 across all 21 facilities). Comparing this with aggregated operator-reported facility emissions for 2019, we found excellent agreement (within 1σ uncertainty), with mean aircraft-measured fluxes 16 % lower than those reported by operators. We also compared aircraft-derived fluxes with facility fluxes extracted from a global gridded fossil fuel CH4 emission inventory compiled for 2016. We found that the measured emissions were 42 % larger than the inventory for the area covered by this study, for the 21 facilities surveyed (in aggregate). We interpret this large discrepancy not to reflect a systematic error in the operator-reported emissions, which agree with measurements, but rather the representivity of the global inventory due to the methodology used to construct it and the fact that the inventory was compiled for 2016 (and thus not representative of emissions in 2019). This highlights the need for timely and up-to-date inventories for use in research and policy. The variable nature of CH4 emissions from individual facilities requires knowledge of facility operational status during measurements for data to be useful in prioritizing targeted emission mitigation solutions. Surveys of individual facilities may always require this. However, for field-aggregated emissions, our results show that an accurate estimate of total field-level emissions simply requires a sufficiently large and representative sample of facilities, to yield meaningful comparisons and flux statistics, irrespective of operational status information. In summary, this study demonstrates the importance and accuracy of detailed, facility-level emission accounting and reporting by operators and the use of measurement approaches to validate bottom-up accounting.

Amy Foulds et al.

Status: open (until 18 Dec 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-872', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Nov 2021 reply

Amy Foulds et al.

Amy Foulds et al.


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Short summary
In this work, we compare atmospheric measurements of methane from offshore oil and gas facilities on the Norwegian Continental Shelf with estimates from a global emission inventory and operator-supplied, facility-level emissions data. Results from this study highlight the importance of facility-level reporting on a global scale, as this will provide a more accurate estimate of methane emissions and aid future climate legislation.