Assessment of Methane Emissions from Shale Gas Production in China

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    This proposal requests support for research on the development and implementation of assessment methods to measure and characterize methane emissions from shale gas production in China. Original fugitive methane emission data will be collected and used to estimate emission rates from different operations in the production areas. A new methane inventory will be developed to fill the gaps in existing emissions datasets from the shale gas industry, to improve the understanding of controversies relating to the impact of shale gas production on global warming, and to provide a scientific basis for methane mitigation activities in China.

    China has the world’s largest shale gas reserve. Production has resulted in serious environmental concerns, particularly methane leakage. Methane (CH4) is a potent greenhouse gas (GHG) with a global warming potential 84–87 times greater than CO2 over a 20-year period. Methane emission occurs throughout the shale gas supply chain, and leakages from the oil and gas industry have driven global atmospheric concentrations of methane to record-high levels. Assessing whether the impacts of methane emissions from shale gas production outweigh the benefits of lower carbon emissions during shale gas combustion remains subject to intense debate, and the results remain highly controversial. This presents a challenge to the future development of shale gas resources, especially in China, which has committed to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. However, methane emissions data are unavailable due to a lack of regulations for methane monitoring and reporting in China—this is a critical obstacle in the development of mitigation strategies.

    This study aims to: (1) create a dataset of methane emissions from shale gas production in China by collecting original data in Sichuan Basin; (2) develop an inventory of methane emissions from the shale gas industry; and (3) assess the effects of shale gas development on global warming. Measurements will be conducted using a vehicle- mounted mobile monitoring instrument in the two largest shale gas fields, Fuling and Changning, which contribute more than 71% of the total shale gas production in China. Atmospheric methane concentrations will be measured to quantify emissions and estimate emission rates using an inverse Gaussian Dispersion Model.

    The PI has established connections with shale gas operators in the two production areas. In addition, we completed an initial field study and obtained preliminary data from Fuling in November 2020, on the basis of which we revised and improved the plan and methods in this re-submitted proposal.
    Effective start/end date1/01/23 → …


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