08 Dec 2022
08 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Quantification of Oil and Gas Methane Emissions in the Delaware and Marcellus Basins Using a Network of Continuous Tower-Based Measurements

Zachary Barkley1, Kenneth Davis1, Natasha Miles1, Scott Richardson1, Aijun Deng2, Benjamin Hmiel3, David Lyon3, and Thomas Lauvaux4 Zachary Barkley et al.
  • 1The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA
  • 2Utopus Insights, Inc, Valhalla, NY, USA
  • 3Environmental Defense Fund. 301 Congress Ave., Suite 1300, Austin, TX, USA
  • 4GSMA, University of Reims-Champagne Ardenne, UMR CNRS 7331, Reims, France

Abstract. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA), emissions from oil and gas infrastructure contribute 30 % of all anthropogenic methane (CH4) emissions in the US. Studies in the last decade have shown emissions from this sector to be substantially larger than bottom-up assessments, including the EPA inventory, highlighting both an increased importance of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector towards their overall climatological impact, and the need for independent monitoring of these emissions. In this study we present continuous monitoring of regional methane emissions from two oil and gas basins using tower-based observing networks. Continuous methane measurements were taken at 4 tower sites in the northeastern Marcellus basin from May 2015 through December 2016, and 5 tower sites in the Delaware basin in the western Permian from March 2020 through April 2022. These measurements, an atmospheric transport model, and prior emission fields, are combined using an atmospheric inversion to estimate monthly methane emissions in the two regions. This study finds the mean overall emission rate from the Delaware basin during the measurement period to be 146–210 Mg CH4 h-1 (energy-normalized loss rate of 1.1–1.5 %, gas-normalized rate of 2.5–3.5 %). Strong temporal variability in the emissions was present, with the lowest emission rates occurring during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Marcellus, this study finds the overall mean emission rate to be 19–28 Mg CH4 h-1 (gas-normalized loss rate of 0.30–0.45 %), with relative consistency in the emission rate over time. These totals align with aircraft top-down estimates from the same time periods. In both basins, the tower network was able to constrain monthly flux estimates within ±20 % uncertainty in the Delaware and ±24 % uncertainty in the Marcellus. The results from this study demonstrate the ability to monitor emissions continuously and detect changes in the emissions field, even in a basin with relatively small emissions and complex background conditions.

Zachary Barkley et al.

Status: open (until 02 Feb 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2022-709', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Jan 2023 reply

Zachary Barkley et al.

Data sets

Marcellus Tower Dataset N. L. Miles, D. K. Martins, S. J. Richardson, T. Lauvaux, K. J. Davis, B. J. Haupt, C. Rella

Permian Tower Dataset V. Monteiro, N. L. Miles, S. J. Richardson, Z. Barkley, B. J. Haupt, K. J. Davis

Zachary Barkley et al.


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Short summary
Using methane monitoring instruments attached to towers, we measure methane concentrations and quantify methane emissions coming from the Marcellus and Permian oil & gas basins. In the Marcellus, emissions were 3 times higher than the state inventory across the entire monitoring period. In the Permian, we see a sharp decline in emissions aligning with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tower observational networks can be utilized in other basins for long-term monitoring of emissions.