Emissions from domestic oil and natural gas operations are 60% higher than earlier estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to research compiled by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
In a collaborative study led by 19 co-authors from 15 institutions, published Thursday in the journal Science, new research covers more than five years of data on methane emissions.

The new work indicates the current leak rate from U.S. oil and gas systems is 2.3%, compared to the EPA inventory estimate of 1.4%.

“Although the percentages seem small, the volume represents enough natural gas to fuel 10 million homes, and the lost gas is estimated to be valued at $2 billion,” EDF officials said.

EDF will be promoting initiatives to curb methane emissions globally at the World Gas Conference (WGC) in Washington, DC, June 25-29. The environmental organization is urging a 45% reduction of oil and gas methane emissions by 2025.

“Companies have the ability to lead through operational best practices, comprehensive methane programs,target setting, technology innovation and pilot projects, along with constructively engaging with the regulatory process,” said EDF Senior Vice President Mark Brownstein.

BP plc, for example, set its first quantitative methane targets in April, while ExxonMobil Corp. in May committed to cut its emissions and flared gas volumes from its onshore-focused subsidiary XTO Energy.

In addition, Royal Dutch Shell plc, Qatar Petroleum “and a host of other producers have committed to continuously reduce methane emissions across the natural gas supply chain,” EDF noted.

The findings include data from more than 400 well pads in six basins and scores of midstream facilities from component measurements and aerial surveys covering large swaths of U.S. energy infrastructure.

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