Oil and Gas Sector Emissions

EM – September 2023: This month, EM presents five articles detailing a wide array of initiatives related to the emissions generated from the oil and gas industry, each touching on ways to reduce emissions.
by Amanda Brimmer and Golam Sarwar

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the oil and gas industry is the largest industrial source of ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and is also a significant source of the potent greenhouse gas, methane, as well as air toxics such as benzene, ethylbenzene, and n-hexane. With the advancement in hydraulic fracturing technology in recent decades, there has been a significant increase in oil and gas exploration and production across the world, which has led to growing health and air quality concerns.

Reducing emissions of methane, particularly from the oil and gas industry, has been a priority for the Biden Administration, with EPA issuing a proposed rule in November 2021 aimed at reducing methane from oil and gas operations. A supplemental proposal was issued in November 2022 that would achieve more comprehensive emissions reductions from oil and gas facilities by improving standards and adding requirements for sources not previously covered. The comment period closed in February 2023 and the rule is anticipated to be finalized in late 2023 or early 2024.

Given the importance of emissions from the oil and gas industry, we present five articles that focus on various aspects of these emissions.

In the first article this month, Eduardo P. Olaguer focuses on top-down approaches for estimating emissions using ambient measurements and a fine-scale inverse modeling technique.

In our next article, Brian McDonald and coauthors discuss these emissions and different measurement approaches for informing emissions estimates.

Deborah Burney-Sigman has prepared a two-part series, with part one included in this issue, and part two to be published in the December 2023 issue on ozone. The first article focuses on oil and gas in the Uinta Basin, UT, and the involvement of the Ozone Working Group, which is a collaborative forum, made up of representatives from all government decisionmakers in the Uinta Basin, regulators, stakeholders, and experts, aimed at facilitating attainment of the ozone standard in the Uinta Basin.

Next, Raymond L. Smith and coauthors discuss increased environmental impacts of climate change on aboveground storage tanks.

Last but not least, Michael Stovern, Eben Thoma, and Jared Beck describe an alternative performance test method for enclosed combustor devices (ECD) used in oil and natural gas production facilities.

Continue reading the full September 2023 issue of EM.


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