Natural Gas Emissions From Well Completions Lower Than Previously Estimated

UT Methane Emissions Study Results
UT Methane Emissions Study Results

Natural gas emissions from well completions looks to be much less than previously thought by researchers and the EPA. As much as 50 times lower.

The University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund released a study that looked at methane emissions from onshore production sites. The study found emissions from well completions were 97% lower than national emissions estimates made by the EPA for 2011 and published in April.

My take from the study is that hydraulic fracturing has an immaterial impact on methane emissions.

The group took onsite measurements of emissions from 190 well sites sampled throughout U.S. producing regions. The findings weren't all positive, but overall they were less alarming than previous studies.

The major findings include:

  • Production emissions estimates based on the data are 10% lower than EPA production emissions reported in 2011
  • Methane emissions from well completions are as much as 97% lower than emissions estimated by the EPA
  • Pneumatic devices and equipment leaks are 70% and 50% higher than current EPA emissions estimates, respectively
  • An estimated 0.42% of gross gas production is lost through emissions (much lower than previous estimates as high as 8%)

Combined with other recent studies, the overall leakage of methane into the atmosphere could be less than 1.5%. That's much lower than a Cornell study that suggested volumes as high as 8%.

Watch for the industry to react by making improvements that decrease emissions from pneumatic devices and equipment.

You can view a full summary presentation at