Industry research group awards funding to CSU, partners for reconciling methane emissions discrepancies

oil rig

Adapted from a news release by the Collaboratory to Advance Methane Science

The Collaboratory to Advance Methane Science, an industry-led research consortium, has awarded funding to Colorado State University for a new project titledIn-depth Investigation of Top-Down and Bottom-Up Reconciliation: Data, Methods, and Quality Control.”

The project is led by Daniel Zimmerle, director of the CSU Energy Institute’s Methane Emissions Program; and Kenneth Davis and Natasha Miles from Pennsylvania State University.

The project will merge expertise from CSU’s Energy Institute and Methane Emissions Technology Evaluation Center, alongside Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science to improve understanding of methane emissions uncertainties, enable comparisons, and increase the accuracy of emissions estimation models in oil and gas production basins.

Top-down vs. bottom-up approaches

Methane emissions are commonly estimated using either a top-down or bottom-up method. Top-down methodologies use long- or short-duration emissions data from aircraft, satellite, and tower-based networks of methane sensors to estimate the frequency and duration of leaks. When compared to bottom-up estimates, which calculate emissions using emission factors and asset inventories, a discrepancy is regularly observed likely due to the inability of these methods to represent the temporal aspect of leaks.

By conducting thorough investigations into top-down and bottom-up methodologies, the project team hopes to bring the industry closer to reconciling the gap found between these estimation types.

With additional modeling support from the Environmental Defense Fund, the team will perform a series of modeling experiments using EDF Permian Basin data combined with a detailed data set from the Denver-Julesburg basin developed during another project with CSU and the University of Wyoming. By comparing these results to data from aerial surveys, satellites, and tower-based network technologies, the team hopes to uncover and address the factors responsible for the expected disagreement. Project deliverables also include recommendations for additional data likely to improve top down-bottom up reconciliation and tested methods for high quality comparisons.

About the Collaboratory to Advance Methane Science

CAMS is an industry-led collaborative research consortium that advances methane-related science to better understand methane emissions from the oil and gas activities and provide actionable industry solutions. The collaboration is administered by GTI Energy and consists of members from Chevron, Cheniere, ExxonMobil, Pioneer, Sempra LNG, and Williams. Together they fund scientific studies addressing methane emissions from all sectors along the natural gas value chain, from production to end use. Studies focus on detection, measurement and quantification of methane emissions with the goal of finding opportunities for emissions reduction.

About GTI Energy

GTI Energy is a leading research and training organization focused on developing, scaling, and deploying energy transition solutions and provides administrative support to CAMS.