Methane emissions around Red Deer 15 times higher than reported

The reported methane emissions from operations nearby Red Deer in November, 2016 were 15 times less than the actual emissions. According to a study published in Elementa on March 22, accuracy of methane leak reporting requires regular inspections of oil and gas facilities. 

After monitoring 60 production sites in central Alberta, the researchers compared the actual methane emissions with the reported values submitted to the Alberta Energy Regulator. All emissions from the 60 sites were 15 times higher than the levels reported. In addition, 60% of the sites reported they had no methane emissions even though the researchers detected emissions originating from those sites. 

The Globe and Mail reported on March 22 that this study "is the latest in a series of research efforts to document significantly higher methane emissions than are being reported to the Alberta Energy Regulator."

Accuracy in methane leak reporting is the first step to reducing methane emissions. 

"The study, funded by the U.S.-based Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), concluded that the producers must regularly inspect their facilities if methane emissions are going to be properly tracked and reduced – a requirement that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) argues would be overly burdensome."

Location of oil and gas operations surrounding Red Deer that were monitored for methane emissions. From  Methane emissions from oil and gas production sites in Alberta, Canada 

Location of oil and gas operations surrounding Red Deer that were monitored for methane emissions. From Methane emissions from oil and gas production sites in Alberta, Canada 

Jeff Wiehler