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Improved characterization of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain



Ramon A. Alvarez, Daniel Zavala-Araiza, David R. Lyon, David T. Allen, Zachary R. Barkley, Adam R. Brandt, Kenneth J. Davis, Scott C. Herndon, Daniel J. Jacob, Anna Karion, Eric A. Kort, Brian K. Lamb, Thomas Lauvaux, Joannes D. Maasakkers, Anthony J. Marchese, Mark Omara, Stephen W. Pacala, Jeff Peischl, Allen L. Robinson, Paul B. Shepson, Colm Sweeney, Amy Townsend-Small, Steven C. Wofsy, Daniel Zimmerle, Steven P. Hamburg


The contribution of the U.S. oil and natural gas supply chain to global methane emissions - an important factor in climate warming - was estimated using ground-based measurements and validated with region-wide aircraft measurements in areas accounting for 30% of U.S. gas production. Results using both methods are corroborative, but are systematically and significantly higher than inventory estimates, likely because existing inventory methods miss emissions released during abnormal operating conditions. Our estimate of 2015 supply chain methane emissions is 14 ± 2 Tg y-1, equivalent to 2.4% of gross gas production. These supply chain emissions are 70% higher than the U.S. EPA inventory estimate, and over a 20-year time horizon cause roughly the same radiative forcing as CO2 from natural gas combustion (33% over 100 years).
Science Magazine


Alvarez, R. , Zavala-Araiza, D. , Lyon, D. , Allen, D. , Barkley, Z. , Brandt, A. , Davis, K. , Herndon, S. , Jacob, D. , Karion, A. , Kort, E. , Lamb, B. , Lauvaux, T. , Maasakkers, J. , Marchese, A. , Omara, M. , Pacala, S. , Peischl, J. , Robinson, A. , Shepson, P. , Sweeney, C. , Townsend-Small, A. , Wofsy, S. , Zimmerle, D. and Hamburg, S. (2018), Improved characterization of methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain, Science Magazine, [online],, (Accessed April 12, 2024)
Created June 20, 2018, Updated October 12, 2021