Spatially, temporally and molecularly resolved models for methane emission estimation in oil and gas production basins




Cardoso Saldaña, Felipe Javier

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Over the past decade and a half, shale resource development in the United States has led to increased production of oil and natural gas. The main component of natural gas is methane, a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential 28-34 times higher than carbon dioxide over a hundred year timespan. Methane emissions occur throughout the natural gas supply chain, from production to end use, and could undermine the use of natural gas as a potential transition fuel towards low-carbon energy systems. Over the past seven years, numerous studies have changed the understanding of methane emissions throughout the natural gas supply chain, from production to end use. Some individual sources are very large, relative to others of similar type. Some sources are intermittent, and their emissions can represent a large fraction of the region’s total when they occur. A critical next step towards emission mitigation is to have models that represent this improved understanding of emissions. These models could act as independent estimates to be compared with ambient measurements, identifying emissions associated with abnormal operations, and assessing the effect of controls. This dissertation describes the development of emission models with high spatial and temporal resolution, that also provide procedures to estimate co-emitted species, such as ethane and propane, which can be used as tracers of emissions from oil and gas sources; procedures are developed to estimate the evolution of emissions over short (seconds or minutes) or long (years) periods of time. The modeling framework is applied in the Barnett Shale and Eagle Ford Shale regions in Texas and compared with ambient measurements. Changes in emissions for individual wells over short and long scales are assessed, and a library of molecular fingerprints of emissions in oil and gas regions is developed.


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