Research ArticleENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES

Quantifying methane emissions from the largest oil-producing basin in the United States from space

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Science Advances  22 Apr 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 17, eaaz5120
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz5120
  • Fig. 1 Satellite observations of the Permian methane anomaly.

    TROPOMI satellite data derived elevation-corrected column methane mixing ratio for (A) the conterminous United States and (B) the Permian Basin containing the Delaware and Midland sub-basins. White shading represents missing data. Purple boundary in (A) indicates the study domain encompassing the Permian Basin. Methane averages are computed from monthly means of TROPOMI measurements during May 2018 and March 2019.

  • Fig. 2 Oil and gas production in the Permian Basin.

    (A and C) Time series of annual O/G production in black and the corresponding fractions of total U.S. production in blue [data from the Drilling Productivity Report by EIA (13)]. (B and D) Spatial distribution of oil and gas production for 2018 [data from Enverus Drillinginfo (50)]. Oil production includes both crude and condensate production. Gas production represents gross (before processing) gas production.

  • Fig. 3 Satellite observations of gas flaring radiant heat and NO2 tropospheric column density over the Permian Basin.

    (A) Gas flaring radiant heat is the annual average of 2018 measured by the VIIRS satellite instrument, and (B) NO2 tropospheric column density is the 3-month average (June, July, and August of 2018) measured by the TROPOMI instrument, indicating colocated hot spots over the Delaware and Midland sub-basins.

  • Fig. 4 Methane emission quantification for the Permian Basin.

    (A) Annual methane emissions from the Permian Basin from two prior emission inventories (EIBU and EIME), and TROPOMI satellite data–based atmospheric inversion and a mass balance method. The breakdown for Delaware, Midland, and non-O/G sources is shown in pink, red, and white for EIBU, EIME, and atmospheric inversion, respectively. The estimate for the Permian Basin is compared with total emissions from 11 U.S. basins reported in literature (7, 24, 25) (table S1). (B) Leakage rates for the Permian Basin and two sub-basins, in comparison with the average leakage reported for the entire United States (7).

  • Fig. 5 Spatial distribution of methane emission rates in the Permian Basin.

    (A) Bottom-up emission inventory EIBU extrapolated from EPA greenhouse gas inventory data (prior). (B) TROPOMI observation–derived emissions using Bayesian atmospheric inverse modeling (posterior). The prior and posterior basin-total emissions, indicated on top of the figure, are computed over the area enclosed by the solid blue boundary, with contributions from two sub-basins, the Delaware (left of the dashed line) and Midland (right of the dashed line).

Supplementary Materials

  • Supplementary Materials

    Quantifying methane emissions from the largest oil-producing basin in the United States from space

    Yuzhong Zhang, Ritesh Gautam, Sudhanshu Pandey, Mark Omara, Joannes D. Maasakkers, Pankaj Sadavarte, David Lyon, Hannah Nesser, Melissa P. Sulprizio, Daniel J. Varon, Ruixiong Zhang, Sander Houweling, Daniel Zavala-Araiza, Ramon A. Alvarez, Alba Lorente, Steven P. Hamburg, Ilse Aben, Daniel J. Jacob

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    • Texts S1 to S4
    • Figs. S1 to S9
    • Tables S1 and S2
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