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Spatiotemporal Variability of Methane Emissions at Oil and Natural Gas Operations in the Eagle Ford Basin

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posted on 05.07.2017, 16:54 by Tegan N. Lavoie, Paul B. Shepson, Maria O. L. Cambaliza, Brian H. Stirm, Stephen Conley, Shobhit Mehrotra, Ian C. Faloona, David Lyon
Methane emissions from oil and gas facilities can exhibit operation-dependent temporal variability; however, this variability has yet to be fully characterized. A field campaign was conducted in June 2014 in the Eagle Ford basin, Texas, to examine spatiotemporal variability of methane emissions using four methods. Clusters of methane-emitting sources were estimated from 14 aerial surveys of two (“East” or “West”) 35 × 35 km grids, two aircraft-based mass balance methods measured emissions repeatedly at five gathering facilities and three flares, and emitting equipment source-types were identified via helicopter-based infrared camera at 13 production and gathering facilities. Significant daily variability was observed in the location, number (East: 44 ± 20% relative standard deviation (RSD), N = 7; West: 37 ± 30% RSD, N = 7), and emission rates (36% of repeat measurements deviate from mean emissions by at least ±50%) of clusters of emitting sources. Emission rates of high emitters varied from 150–250 to 880–1470 kg/h and regional aggregate emissions of large sources (>15 kg/h) varied up to a factor of ∼3 between surveys. The aircraft-based mass balance results revealed comparable variability. Equipment source-type changed between surveys and alterations in operational-mode significantly influenced emissions. Results indicate that understanding temporal emission variability will promote improved mitigation strategies and additional analysis is needed to fully characterize its causes.