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Environmental group says that Permian super emitters have spewed 110,000 tonnes of methane
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Environmental group says that Permian super emitters have spewed 110,000 tonnes of methane

A new environmental report shows that more than 300 oil and gas facilities located in the Permian basin of West Texas have released more methane per year for the past three years.

The Environmental Defense Fund discovered that 30 pipelines, oil and natural gas wells, compressor stations, and processing facilities had leaked approximately 110,230 tons of methane every year since 2019. This is equivalent to the amount of air pollution from half a million passenger cars. According to the organization, sealing leaks from these super-emitters could save the oil industry $26 millions a year.

Riley Duren, CEO of Carbon Mapper, and a researcher scientist at the University of Arizona said that the emissions report highlights the need to have more transparent and comprehensive methane monitoring. EDF began to partner with Carbon Mapper in 2019 and with NASA, the energy nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, and the University of Arizona to fly helicopters over West Texas with infrared camera to determine the extent of methane leakage.

Duren stated that the methane emissions from just a handful methane-producing regions in the top oil-and gas-producing countries illustrates the potential for significant near-term progress towards the U.S.’s methane reduction targets.

Investors, environmental groups, and regulators are pressing the oil and gas industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is in response to growing concerns about climate change. Oil companies and regulators are focusing on reducing methane emissions, which is a powerful greenhouse gas that can cause global warming by 84 times greater than carbon dioxide.

A trade group representing the industry, Texas Oil and Gas Association, did not immediately respond when we asked for comment.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposes new regulations that require oil and gas companies find and fix methane omissions at facilities constructed before 2015. This regulation is part an international effort to reduce methane emission by 30% by 2030. The EPA welcomes public comments until the end this month.

Oil companies have stated that they are working to reduce carbon emission by using drones to detect and locate leaks and installing less vulnerable pneumatic equipment. Exxon Mobil, America’s largest oil company, announced recently that it would use two-dozen satellites to detect methane leaking from the Permian Basin. This massive oil field extends into southeastern New Mexico.

EDF and Carbon Mapper still claimed that nearly 1,100 oil- and gas facilities have persistently leaked methane in the past three year. These facilities contribute approximately half of the methane emissions to the oilfields, even though they are a fraction of the Permian’s many oil and gas facilities.

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