Climate Change

More methane? Meh!

Offshore oil and gas platforms release more methane than previously estimated, University of Michigan, April 2020:

Offshore energy-producing platforms in U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico are emitting twice as much methane, a greenhouse gas, than previously thought, according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

Researchers conducted a first-of-its-kind pilot-study sampling air over offshore oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. Their findings suggest the federal government’s calculations are too low.

…Until now, only a handful of measurements of offshore platforms have been made, and no aircraft studies of methane emissions in normal operation had been conducted. Each year the EPA issues its U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory, but its numbers for offshore emissions are not produced via direct sampling…

The last sentence in the block quote does not surprise me. Industry and captive regulators have always taken the position that fugitive emissions do not exist if they are unmeasured.

It is a certainty that Canada and its western provinces are emitting more dangerous methane—roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide—than governments report.

We can all hope the coronavirus emergency will soon end but climate change is a present and existential emergency.

Without radical change, a future generation will ask, “Why did people fail to act on climate change when almost every climate scientist sounded alarms.

In British Columbia and other western provinces, we will soon be working to reshape the economy. Now is a perfect time to commit to reduced production of fossil fuels and move vigorously toward a clean energy economy.

Instead of public relations campaigns, we need action. Real action.


April 22 Addition

Following the University of Michigan examination of emissions in the Gulf of Mexico comes miserable news from Harvard researchers.

Fracking wells in the US are leaking loads of planet-warming methane, NewScientist, April 22, 2020:

Satellites have revealed the fracking heartland of the US is leaking a powerful greenhouse gas at a record-breaking rate.

The methane escaping from the oil and gas wells of the Permian basin, which straddles Texas and New Mexico, has the potential to warm the atmosphere by almost as much as the carbon dioxide released by all homes in the US annually…

The leakage rate is more than twice that assumed by the US Environmental Protection Agency…

“Any emission rate greater than 1 per cent or so is significant in terms of the greenhouse gas consequences of using natural gas. And at 3.5 per cent or 3.7 per cent, natural gas is far worse for the climate than is coal,” says Robert Howarth at Cornell University in New York…

This past week, Americans learned that much of the money allocated to assist small businesses was snapped up by endowment-rich institutions, large public companies, and nation-wide business chains.

There’s a connection to the way the fossil fuel industry operates.

The corporate raison d’être is profitability and there is no shortage of immoral business managers who will cut every corner and make any move to achieve or exceed profit targets. Doing so may be the difference between cashing a bonus cheque or looking for a new job.

Minimizing methane leaks is costly work. In a deregulated resource industry, companies proceed with little oversight.

British Columbians can be certain there is no difference in the way corporations conduct themselves in this province. The present government has as much interest in regulating gas producers as the previous one. That interest level is near zero.


I’ve been following work of Dr. Robert Howarth of Cornell University for almost a decade. You’ll find reference to his work on emissions HERE.

Categories: Climate Change, Energy

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3 replies »

  1. And they were blaming all that methane on cows. I think the cows ought to launch a deformation law suite.

    that picture was very interesting.

    We have a glut of oil on the market, its in tankers drifting off shore all over the world. Cap it. We may never need this much oil again. One, people may not want to travel because of the risks and the ongoing virus incidents. Two, people may decide they need to pay down their debt. three, many families which have two wage earners may only have one when this is over and go to one vehicles and of course less flying. Once flying resumes, and social distancing remains in effect the cost of flights may be much higher than they were, result, less people flying here and there.

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  2. In BC since 2008 we have had to pay carbon tax on things like gasoline, natural gas etc. The idea is to encourage us to use less fossil fuels.

    Yet somehow the idea of exporting massive amounts of GHG-emitting LNG, coal and diluted bitumen from BC at the same time is seen by some as ok.

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    • The carbon tax was a camouflage, in reality Gordon Campbell had to make up revenues lost \with the generous tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthy.

      It was never a true Carbon Tax, rather a shakedown of the dwindling middle class and the poor.

      Like

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