Natural Gas

 

Phase I meta-study of methane leakage

Newly located natural gas (methane) resources may be able to substitute at scale for the use of coal, and in some special cases, oil. With a GHG emissions profile better than that for coal or oil, natural gas may represent an opportunity to transition to a prosperous, secure, self sufficient, lower carbon economy.

Critics of such a strategy argue that methane leakage during the production and distribution phases of natural gas significantly reduces or even eliminates life cycle emissions benefits compared to those of coal or oil.

Policymakers, the media and the public at large need credible analysis to support pending decisions and to balance what often devolves into conflicting, unsubstantiated rhetoric. Although a great deal of material exists on the subject, a comprehensive evaluation of the quality of such work has not yet been performed.

Novim has assembled a team of scientific and technical experts to analyze existing studies of the emissions profile of natural gas during the production and distribution phases, with a focus on determining a range of actual methane leakage rates. Probable causes for the leakage will be included, and proposed solutions will be examined, along with suggestions for future analysis.

The acquiring and cataloging of studies was been completed under the direction of ECG, Novim's engineering consulting group. In early February the 14 member scientific team convened at Stanford University to consider the data and begin preparation of a summary paper.

Results of this study are published in the February 14, 2014 issue of Science magazine, with supplemental data here.

Stanford YouTube summary.

  

Phase II sources of leakage disparity

The Phase I study identified a significant difference between top-down (airborne) and bottom-up (surface measured) data. Novim, Stanford University and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) are proposing an additional study to attempt to identify and quantify the sources of this disparity.