Satellite Discovery of Anomalously Large Methane Point Sources From Oil/Gas Production

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Abstract

Rapid identification of anomalous methane sources in oil/gas fields could enable corrective action to fight climate change. The GHGSat-D satellite instrument measuring atmospheric methane with 50-meter spatial resolution was launched in 2016 to demonstrate space-based monitoring of methane point sources. Here we report the GHGSat-D discovery of an anomalously large, persistent methane source (10–43 metric tons per hour, detected in over 50% of observations) at a gas compressor station in Central Asia, together with additional sources (4–32 metric tons per hour) nearby. The TROPOMI satellite instrument confirms the magnitude of these large emissions going back to at least November 2017. We estimate that these sources released 142 ± 34 metric kilotons of methane to the atmosphere from February 2018 through January 2019, comparable to the 4-month total emission from the well-documented Aliso Canyon blowout.

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Varon, D. J., McKeever, J., Jervis, D., Maasakkers, J. D., Pandey, S., Houweling, S., … Jacob, D. J. (2019). Satellite Discovery of Anomalously Large Methane Point Sources From Oil/Gas Production. Geophysical Research Letters, 46(22), 13507–13516. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL083798

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