Over the past three years, 30 oil and gas infrastructure facilities in the Permian have been large methane emitters, data collected from airborne surveys by Carbon Mapper and the Environmental Defense Fund showed.
The data collected from surveys conducted between 2019 and 2021 showed that 30 so-called “super-emitters” produce the same near-term climate pollution as around half a million passenger vehicles, the Environmental Defense Fund said.
Those “super-emitters” account for less than .001% of the region’s oil and gas infrastructure, the surveys and studies found.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, second only to carbon dioxide in its overall contribution to climate change and responsible for about one-third of the current climate warming. Although it remains in the atmosphere for a shorter period than carbon dioxide (CO2), on a molecular level, methane has a much higher global warming potential than CO2.
If the “super-emitters” repaired the leaks that have emitted so much methane in recent years, this could immediately reduce 100,000 metric tons of methane per year, the Environmental Defense Fund said. In addition, fixing the methane leaks from these 30 super-emitters would prevent $26 million a year of wasted gas, the fund added.
“The magnitude of emissions coming from a handful of methane sources in one of the top oil- and gas-producing regions illustrates the opportunity to make significant near-term progress toward the stated methane reduction goals of the U.S., other countries, and companies around the world,” said Riley Duren, Chief Executive Officer for Carbon Mapper and Research Scientist at the University of Arizona.
While the Permian crude oil production hits record-highs, the U.S. Administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has proposed new regulations to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industry that would require oil and gas companies to aggressively and proactively track down and fix methane leaks.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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