Title: Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Evaluation of selected hydrocarbons in the ambient air of three basins in the United States by means of diffusive sampling measurements
Publisher: Publications Office of the European Union
Publication Year: 2018
JRC N°: JRC108917
ISBN: 978-92-79-86560-2
ISSN: 1831-9424
Other Identifiers: EUR 29244 EN
OP KJ-NA-29244-EN-N
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC108917
DOI: 10.2760/818914
Type: EUR - Scientific and Technical Research Reports
Abstract: The impact of emissions associated with the extraction of crude oil and natural gas upon air quality in the United States (US) is widely recognised to have an impact on climate change, human health and ground-level ozone formation. A number of measurement approaches are being applied to evaluate the environmental impact of the oil and gas (O&G) sector, including satellite, airborne and ground-based platforms. Measurement based studies, in particular those that estimate flux rates, are critical for the validation of emission inventories that often under-report actual emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOC) from the O&G sector. On-going research projects in the US are investigating the consistency of emission rates from O&G emission sources associated with extraction, transmission and distribution activities. The leakage rates of methane, as related to production levels, in the US for O&G developments varies from less than 1% (e.g. Upper Green River Basin, Wyoming) to over 6% (Uintah Basin, Utah). European research and policy approaches can learn from efforts in the US that are improving the accuracy of reporting emissions from O&G sources, enhancing our understanding of air quality impacts, and reducing emissions through regulatory controls. The Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission performed a diffusive sampling project, with the collaboration of the University of Wyoming, in conjunction with the SONGNEX (Studying the Atmospheric Effects of Changing Energy Use in the US at the Nexus of Air Quality and Climate Change) project led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The SONGNEX project is an airborne measurement campaign supported by a number of associated ground based studies. The applicability of the Pocket Diffusive (PoD) sampler, for measurement of VOC (C4-C10), heavy hydrocarbons and volatile polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in areas heavily influenced by O&G development, is evaluated. Three sampling surveys were performed to assess three basins (Upper Green River, Uintah and North Platte) characterised by different management regimes, meteorology and hydrocarbon products. This first extensive field deployment of the PoD sampler demonstrates the effectiveness of the sampler for time-integrated measurements of targeted pollutants over wide spatial areas. The ambient air at these basins reveal different compositional profiles of hydrocarbons (C4-C10). Analysis of aromatics supports a finding of relatively elevated levels in the Pinedale Anticline (Upper Green River). From an evaluation of the behaviour of alkanes, it is evident that there is a relatively high leakage rate in the Uintah Basin. Heavy hydrocarbons (C11-C22) and PAHs are measured at relatively low levels. Despite low concentrations, analysis of these compounds improves the accuracy of source identification. A comparison of ground based PoD data and airborne SONGNEX data showed good agreement for commonly reported VOCs. The utility of the PoD sampler for analysis of emission sources was enhanced with reporting of a wide range of compounds. Spatial Positive Matrix Factorization analysis showed the possibility of using PoD samplers for differentiating emission sources, characterizing different areas and estimating the relative contribution of different emission sources.
JRC Directorate:Energy, Transport and Climate

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