Aircraft measurements were able to cover about 100 times more locations than previous research on the ground. Flying over active wells and pipelines in part of the New Mexico basin, the plane discovered 1,985 methane over 15 months.
In addition to detecting higher levels of methane leaks than expected, the research also identified several places that emit mega. Only about 5% of the feathers discovered by the plane were responsible for more than half of the measured emissions.
Findings contributions calls to tighten methane regulations for oil and gas producers. At the time of collecting these data, from 2018 to 2020, oil production was growing rapidly, and regulations in this area were looser than today. New Mexico has recently passed legislation prohibition of routine burning of excess natural gas. Stronger federal policies are still needed to reduce emissions in other oil-producing states, such as Texas, he says. Jon Goldsteinsenior policy director at the Environmental Protection Fund.
In any case, new discoveries show how comprehensive research can shed light on methane emissions, which are often poorly understood even in large oil and gas basins such as Perm. As governments continue to target emissions, identifying problem areas can be a useful first step.