A tiny patch of the southwestern U.S. produces the nation’s highest concentrations of methane, the potent greenhouse gas that President Barack Obama has vowed to tackle as part of his assault on climate-change pollution, Bloomberg said Oct. 9.
The hot spot near the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah accounts for almost 10% of all methane from natural gas in the U.S., researchers said in a paper published that day by the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The area, about half the size of Connecticut, is a major source of gas harvested from coal mines, according to a NASA statement announcing the study.
The gas measured in the study comes from leaks in processing equipment. Environmental groups have pushed Obama to regulate methane leaks as drilling using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has boomed. Eric Kort, the paper’s lead researcher, said it’s a mistake to focus only on fracking rather than existing industries.
The results indicate “that emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting are greater than inventoried,” Kort, an atmospheric researcher at the University of Michigan, said in the statement. “There’s been so much attention on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but we need to consider the industry as a whole.”
Natural gas is about 98% methane, according to NASA, which assisted in the study. While less long-lived than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, methane is about 25x more potent in trapping heat.
The study, based on satellite data, found the 2,500-square mile (6,500-square kilometer) hot spot produced about 590,000 tonnes of methane annually from 2003 to 2009, according to the NASA statement. That is more than triple previous estimates of emissions from the area, highlighting the need for better monitoring, the researchers said.
Cairn Oil & Gas will drill about 300 development/injection wells and construct 205 well pads to increase production from the Barmer fields.
Drillers cut nine oil rigs in the week to March 22, bringing the total count down to 824, the lowest since April 2018, Baker Hughes, a GE company (NYSE: BHGE), said in its weekly report.
The independent U.S. energy producer aims to take a final investment decision on the $20 billion project in the coming months, having signed up long-term buyers for its LNG.