Comparing Facility-Level Methane Emission Rate Estimates at Natural Gas Gathering and Boosting Stations

Garvin Heath, Timothy Vaughn, Clay Bell, Tara Yacovitch, Joseph Roscioli, Scott Herndon, Stephen Conley, Stefan Schwietzke, Gabrielle Petron, Daniel Zimmerle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus Citations


Coordinated dual-tracer, aircraft-based, and direct component-level measurements were made at midstream natural gas gathering and boosting stations in the Fayetteville shale (Arkansas, USA). On-site component-level measurements were combined with engineering estimates to generate comprehensive facility-level methane emission rate estimates (“study on-site estimates (SOE)”) comparable to tracer and aircraft measurements. Combustion slip (unburned fuel entrained in compressor engine exhaust), which was calculated based on 111 recent measurements of representative compressor engines, accounts for an estimated 75% of cumulative SOEs at gathering stations included in comparisons. Measured methane emissions from regenerator vents on glycol dehydrator units were substantially larger than predicted by modelling software; the contribution of dehydrator regenerator vents to the cumulative SOE would increase from 1% to 10% if based on direct measurements. Concurrent measurements at 14 normally-operating facilities show relative agreement between tracer and SOE, but indicate that tracer measurements estimate lower emissions (regression of tracer to SOE = 0.91 (95% CI = 0.83–0.99), R 2 = 0.89). Tracer and SOE 95% confidence intervals overlap at 11/14 facilities. Contemporaneous measurements at six facilities suggest that aircraft measurements estimate higher emissions than SOE. Aircraft and study on-site estimate 95% confidence intervals overlap at 3/6 facilities. The average facility level emission rate (FLER) estimated by tracer measurements in this study is 17–73% higher than a prior national study by Marchese et al.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number71
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-70688


  • Boosting
  • Climate change
  • Fayetteville
  • Gathering
  • Methane emissions
  • Natural gas


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