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Methane Emissions from Offshore Oil and Gas Platforms in the Gulf of Mexico

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posted on 06.03.2020, 13:40 by Tara I. Yacovitch, Conner Daube, Scott C. Herndon
Shipboard measurements of offshore oil and gas facilities were conducted in the Gulf of Mexico in February 2018. Species measured at 1 s include methane, ethane, carbon-13 (13C) and deuterium (D) isotopes of methane, and several combustion tracers. Significant variability in the emission composition is observed between individual sites, with typical ethane/methane ratios around 5.3% and 13C and D methane isotopic compositions around −40 and −240‰, respectively. Offshore plumes were spatially narrower than expectations of the plume width based on terrestrial atmospheric stability classes; a modified Gaussian dispersion methodology using empirically measured horizontal plume widths was used to estimate the emission rates. A total of 103 sites were studied, including shallow and deepwater offshore platforms and drillships. Methane emission rates range from 0 to 190 kg/h with 95% confidence limits estimated at a factor of 10. The observed distribution is skewed with the top two emitters accounting for 20% of the total methane emissions of all sampled sites. Despite the greater throughput of the deepwater facilities, they had moderate emission rates compared to shallow-water sites. Analysis of background ethane enhancements also suggests a source region in shallow waters. A complete 1 s measurement database is published for use in future studies of offshore dispersion.