Spatially Explicit Methane Emissions from Petroleum Production and the Natural Gas System in California

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Journal Article




We present a new, spatially resolved inventory of methane (CH4) emissions based on US-EPA emission factors and publically available activity data for 2010 California petroleum production and natural gas production, processing, transmission, and distribution. Compared to official California bottom-up inventories, our initial estimates are 3 to 7 times higher for the petroleum and natural gas production sectors but similar for the natural gas transmission and distribution sectors. Evidence from published "top-down" atmospheric measurement campaigns within Southern California supports our initial emission estimates from production and processing but indicates emission estimates from transmission and distribution are low by a factor of approximately 2. To provide emission maps with more accurate total emissions we scale the spatially resolved inventory by sector-specific results from a Southern California aircraft measurement campaign to all of California. Assuming uncertainties are determined by the uncertainties estimated in the top-down study, our estimated state total CH4 emissions are 541 ± 144 Gg yr–1 (as compared with 210.7 Gg yr–1 in California's current official inventory), where the majority of our reported uncertainty is derived from transmission and distribution. We note uncertainties relative to the mean for a given region are likely larger than that for the State total, emphasizing the need for additional measurements in undersampled regions.


Environmental Science & Technology



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