HARC is developing a detailed particulate matter (PM) 2.5 emissions inventory for Harris County, Texas. PM is a type pollution composed of a complex mixture of extremely small particles. The size of particles is linked to their potential for causing health-related problems.
Analyzing Methane Emissions from Upstream Oil and Gas Production Operations
Methane is a prevalent greenhouse gas. According the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), methane accounted for nearly 90% of all US greenhouse gas emissions from human activities in 2011. Methane is emitted from natural and human sources such as industry, agriculture, and waste management activities.
Scientists at the EPA have collected field measurements of atmospheric methane and other environmental variables at a number of oil and gas facilities in Colorado, Texas, and Wyoming. EPA scientists have also calculated the emission estimates from natural gas production facilities using the methane concentrations they measured. HARC is working collaboratively with EPA to conduct additional analysis of the collected data.
The project is led by Dr. Birnur Guven, Research Scientist in Environmental Modeling in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund and EPA. The objectives of the research are to review EPA’s modeling approach, compile additional data regarding the sampled production sites, investigate the variability in estimated site emissions in relation to production levels, and compare estimated emissions to the results of other relevant studies.
HARC deployed a mobile laboratory equipped with a Geographical Positioning System (GPS) and a Proton Transfer Reaction-Mass Spectrometer (PTR-MS) to perform real time measurements of ambient concentrations of toxic volatile organic compounds in the vicinity of oil and gas sites located on a large private property in the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.
The phenomenon of wintertime smog at rural oil and gas sites in the Uinta Basin of Utah was the subject of the Uinta Basin Ozone Study (UBOS).
The oil and gas industry is adopting technologies for cleaner generators and the application of emission controls on diesel engines. Members of the industry are also switching from diesel engines to engines that operate on cleaner natural gas.