Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fugitive Methane Problem Overstated?

A study by scientists from the University of Texas and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that methane leaks from natural gas wells are not as large as previously suspected.  The researchers took direct measurements from several hundred wells and found "fugitive" methane levels approximately 20% lower than the EPA previously suspected and well below numbers trotted out by environmental groups opposed to gas drilling.

While the study is not exhaustive and it focused more on the upstream side of the business, it nevertheless represents a credible data point that favors the gas industry.  As we've noted before, fugitive methane is a real problem (as opposed to hydraulic fracturing, which is a widely exaggerated suspected problem), but it is one that is addressable through better practices and improved equipment.

While this new study will excite the pro-gas folks, it isn't likely to change many opponents' minds.  And the battles will rage on.

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