Global Methane Emissions Soar to Record High
Aircraft, drones and satellites show promise for monitoring methane from oil and gas wells. Jackson said, "I'm optimistic that, in the next five years, we'll make real progress in that area."
The nature of polyethylene pipes is that they are susceptible to fracturing if struck forcefully and can therefore emit large volumes of gas – particularly in the case of medium pressure pipelines. Minimising the possibility of interference damage is therefore an important component of a leakage reduction strategy (Carlarne C. et al, 2016). Other emission sources at the distribution stage can include metering and regulating stations and intentional venting during operations. In most countries, leaks in customer services and meters are dealt with as a priority due to safety considerations though where retail meter installations are located away from the property (as in many parts of the US) these can also be a cause of sustained leakage. The explosive property of methane means that gas leaks from distribution systems are attended to quickly, although this does not always mean the leaks are repaired quickly. Leaks are typically prioritized according to safety criteria and those that do not present a hazard are deferred or reprogrammed. This can result in venting to the atmosphere for prolonged periods (Larsen et al (2015).
Satellite data on methane concentration fields and profiles in the troposphere have helped to further resolve the uncertainties in the budgets.
Carlarne C. et al, 2016 The Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law, OUP, 2016.
Lamb et al 2015 Lamb, Brian K. et al. “Direct Measurements Show Decreasing Methane Emissions from Natural Gas Local Distribution Systems in the United States.” Environmental Science and Technology, published online, March 31, 2015.
Larsen et al (2015) “Untapped potential - Reducing Global Methane Emissions from Oil and Natural Gas Systems” Kate Larsen, Michael Delgado and Peter Marsters