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Damn Satellite Part 3, Super-emitters and Ultra-emitters

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John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant, Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

  • Member since 2013
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  • Apr 5, 2022

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In the Part 2 of this series, we identified several methane super-emitters in the Permian Basin oil fields in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. The Permian super-emitters have now been located with better precision at the completion of a multi-year aerial survey, and additional surveys have been performed via multiple satellites.

The other news is that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started a process to define new methane emission rules for oil and gas producers.

Also, an international consortium has identified a new class of methane Ultra-emitters.

Part 3 reports on all of the above new information.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Apr 5, 2022

I've heard some pitching that this emitted methane can be captured and used for dispatchable energy needs (e.g., cryptocurrency mining) and thus make those energy uses 'net zero' since they are simply making use of  methane that was already being emitted. I think that's shortsighted because it's still providing value to the natural gas chain-- but is that a more likely outcome because of positive market forces rather than trying to force these emitters to pay more to plug the emissions without getting value from them? 

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Apr 6, 2022

The emissions in this paper are mainly from oil and gas extraction, and mostly due to leaks and inefficient flaring. I'm not aware of any economically viable process to capture atmospheric methane, so the best fixes for these are to fix the leaks and flaring.

Other sources of atmospheric methane mainly come from agriculture, forestry, and natural degradation of organic material. The first two can be mitigated, by collecting and processing the material that causes them, and using anaerobic fermentation or pyrolysis to manufacture biomethane. My most reasonable post where I cover this is "Reasonable Transition," section 4, linked below.


John Benson's picture
John Benson on Apr 15, 2022

Methane emissions jumped by record amount in 2021, NOAA says

...NOAA said that atmospheric methane measured jumped 17 parts per billion (ppb) in 2021, the largest amount since systematic measurements began in 1983. The increase during 2020 was 15.3 ppb.

Go through the link below for more information:


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