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Monitoring Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations – How Metrology Can Help
by Dr. Michelle Bailey, Dr. William Collins, Dr. Raymond Orbach, Dr. Sébastien Biraud, Dr. Ian Coddington, Dr. David DiCarlo, Dr. Jeff Peischl, Mrs./Ms. Anuradha Radhakrishnan, Dr. David Schimel


Reducing anthropogenic methane emissions has become a focal point of global efforts to combat climate change. Its strong global warming potential and relatively short atmospheric lifetime, compared to carbon dioxide, suggest mitigating methane emissions should be a key target in strategies aimed at slowing or reversing temperature increases from human-generated greenhouse gases. To validate the efficacy of mitigation efforts across sectors, there is a critical need for accurate measurement and monitoring tools. Current estimates indicate nearly 30% of anthropogenic methane is contributed by the fossil-fuel sector. Efforts to quantify emissions from oil and gas operations has led to 1) the adoption of improved technologies for leak detection and repair, 2) a better understanding of the distribution of emissions across components, sites, and processes, and 3) discussion on regulatory needs to verify emissions reduction. Data also shows that a small portion of methane sources contribute a significant fraction of the total emissions. A recent report issued by the American Physical Society and Optica highlights the current capabilities and limitations of methane emissions monitoring during fossil fuel production [1]. The study reviews existing ground-, aircraft-, and space-based sensing capabilities along with emerging technologies and discusses the role each sensing modality plays in capturing sporadic leaks from infrastructure or flaring. Several scientific and technological advances are identified that would considerably improve our ability to monitor methane emissions and locate the major sources. The research recommendations outlined in the report are targeted to the scientific community-at-large, but many challenges are prime to be addressed through metrology. For example, the need for improved high-resolution spectroscopic databases for methane is critical for accurate remote sensing retrievals. Further, advancing measurement technologies to quantify carbon isotopes and monitor key co-emitters (e.g., ethane) are necessary for accurate source apportionment. This submission will address the key findings of the joint report and highlight how the metrology community can play a key role in overcoming some of the most pressing measurement challenges. 1. Collins, W., Orbach, R., et al. Monitoring Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Operations, A Science Policy Report issued by the American Physical Society and Optica: Washington, D.C., May 2022.

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Topic : Theme 2: State of play in integrated approaches for advanced GHG emission estimates and the way forward to operational services.
Reference : T2-B2

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