This report surveys existing data on current and historical methane emissions from oil and gas systems worldwide, highlights gaps and disparities in country-level data, predicts methane emissions growth through 2030 under a range of scenarios, and quantifies the impact of action from top-emitting countries to control their methane emissions.
Natural Gas: Methane Leakage
This study analyzes the level of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) that are attributable to electricity generated by natural gas verses coal. It considers carbon dioxide and methane emissions that are released during the production and combustion of coal and natural gas. The study, published in Electricity Journal, concludes that methane emissions, at certain leakage rates, could actually cause electricity generated from natural gas to contribute to higher GHG emissions in the near to mid-term, compared to electricity generated from coal. Energy Innovation has also released an issue brief that summarizes this research.
This paper explores the science of measuring methane emissions and calls on the EPA to improve its approach to estimating methane emissions. New research concludes that methane emissions are significantly undercounted by the EPA Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks. Uncertainty remains about the sources of this “missing,” methane, but there are strong indications that at least some of it is coming from the natural gas system. Better data on methane emissions is needed to guide climate policy and more efficiently regulate the natural gas industry.
In 2012, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) began an extensive research project, which involved the collaboration of more than 100 research and industry experts, to investigate where and how much methane is leaking in the U.S. natural gas supply chain. This fact sheet summarizes the 16 independent studies that the project comprises, providing an overview paragraph and a list of resources for each study entry.
This article analyzes the global warming effects of switching to natural gas from vehicle fuels (gasoline and diesel) and from coal for power plants. It considers only CO2 emissions and CH4 leakage rates. Based on EPA’s estimated 2.4 percent methane leakage rate, replacing gasoline results in benefits after 80 years, replacing diesel results in benefits after 300 years, and replacing coal results in benefits immediately.
This article analyzes the effects of a change from coal to natural gas for electrical power production using a scenario in which 50 percent of the power generated by coal in 2010 is replaced linearly by natural gas by 2050. It concludes that, irrespective of methane leakage rate, substituting gas for coal is not an effective means for reducing the magnitude of future climate change.
This article finds systematic evidence that drinking water in aquifers lying above the Marcellus and Utica shale formations has been contaminated with methane associated with shale-gas extraction. It concludes that there is a need for more research on pathways of methane contamination and on the potential health impacts of methane. The authors also advocate for improved monitoring of groundwater quality near natural gas extraction sites.