Closing the Methane Gap in US Oil and Natural Gas Production Emissions Inventories: Article No. 4715

Jeffrey Rutherford, Evan Sherwin, Arvind Ravikumar, Garvin Heath, Jacob Englander, Daniel Cooley, David Lyon, Mark Omara, Quinn Langfitt, Adam Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus Citations


Methane (CH4) emissions from oil and natural gas (O&NG) systems are an important contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. In the United States, recent synthesis studies of field measurements of CH4 emissions at different spatial scales are ~1.5–2× greater compared to official greenhouse gas inventory (GHGI) estimates, with the production-segment as the dominant contributor to this divergence. Based on an updated synthesis of measurements from component-level field studies, we develop a new inventory-based model for CH4 emissions, for the production-segment only, that agrees within error with recent syntheses of site-level field studies and allows for isolation of equipment-level contributions. We find that unintentional emissions from liquid storage tanks and other equipment leaks are the largest contributors to divergence with the GHGI. If our proposed method were adopted in the United States and other jurisdictions, inventory estimates could better guide CH4 mitigation policy priorities.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A50-78164


  • bottom-up
  • greenhouse gas
  • inventory
  • upstream


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