ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Methane emissions from domestic oil and gas operations may be 60 percent higher than current Environmental Protection Agency estimates, according to a new study published today in the journal Science.
The report says U.S. industry operations emit 13 million metric tons of methane each year, indicating a leak rate of 2.3 percent. That compares with EPA’s estimate of 1.4 percent, according to the study, which the Environmental Defense Fund coordinated with co-authors from 15 institutions.
If accurate, the amount leaked represents about $2 billion annually in lost gas, or enough to fuel 10 million homes.
The findings include measurements at hundreds of well pads in six basins and scores of gathering and processing facilities, plus extensive aerial surveys of infrastructure, said EDF chief scientist and study co-author Steven Hamburg. The final report combines new data with an underlying investigation conducted over five years by researchers from 40 institutions. Fifty oil and gas companies cooperated, providing site access and technical advice.