A study from the Journal Science estimates the U.S. oil and gas industry emits about 13 million tons of methane a year because of normal and abnormal operating conditions. That’s enough gas to meet the annual household needs of 10 million homes. A new report from the International Energy Agency says global oil and gas methane emissions may rise despite the dip in oil and gas demand, as both producers and regulators scale back staffing and oversight – leaving more leaks unnoticed and unrepaired.
The Permian Basin also has a flaring problem. Oil and gas companies often burn away the gas associated with oil production. Flaring natural gas wastes energy, worsens air quality and increases light pollution. Recent estimates suggest Permian operators burn off nearly a billion cubic feet of methane daily — that’s $2.6 million worth of natural gas every day.
However, while some areas have massive methane plumes, others have very low emissions, indicating that it’s possible to avoid methane emissions when facility-wide controls are designed and properly maintained.
The methane data we’re collecting will be updated periodically to give users a current emissions snapshot. By integrating new data at regular intervals, we will generate a never-before-seen view of the region’s emissions that can help inform mitigation.
It’s why several oil and gas companies, a handful of which operate in the Permian Basin, are already making bold commitments to reduce methane.
Scaling these practices industry-wide and deploying solutions now is the opportunity.