Environmental Research Letters | VOL. 15
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Emissions in the stream: estimating the greenhouse gas impacts of an oil and gas boom

Publication Date Jan 14, 2020

Abstract

The Shale Revolution has stimulated a large and rapid buildout of oil and gas infrastructure in the Gulf and Southwest regions of the United States (US), expected to unfold over decades. Therefore, it is critical to develop a clearer understanding of the scale and composition of the likely greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with this activity. We compile a detailed inventory of projected upstream oil and gas production expansions as well as recently and soon-to-be built midstream and downstream facilities within the region. Using data from emissions permits, emissions factors, and facility capacities, we estimate expected GHG emissions at the facility level for facilities that have recently been constructed or are soon to be constructed. Our central estimate suggests that the total annual emissions impact of the regional oil and gas infrastructure buildout may reach 541 million tons of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) by 2030, which is more than 8% of total US GHG emissions in 2017 and roughly equivalent to the emissions of 131 coal-fired power plants. A substantial fraction of the projected emissions come from petrochemical facilities (38%) and liquefied natural gas terminals (19%). Researchers have largely focused on upstream emissions such as fugitive methane (CH4) associated with new US production; our findings reveal the potentially greater prominence of midstream and downstream sources in the studied region.

Concepts

Greenhouse Gas Emissions United States Production Total United States Fugitive Methane Shale Revolution Upstream Emissions Gas Boom Downstream Facilities Petrochemical Facilities Gas Infrastructure

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