Gathering Pipeline Methane Emissions in Fayetteville Shale Pipelines and Scoping Guidelines for Future Pipeline Measurement Campaigns

Garvin Heath, Daniel Zimmerle, Cody Pickering, Clay Bell, Dag Nummedal, Gabrielle Petron, Timothy Vaughn

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16 Scopus Citations


Gathering pipelines, which transport gas from well pads to downstream processing, are a sector of the natural gas supply chain for which little measured methane emissions data are available. This study performed leak detection and measurement on 96 km of gathering pipeline and the associated 56 pigging facilities and 39 block valves. The study found one underground leak accounting for 83% (4.0 kg CH 4 /hr) of total measured emissions. Methane emissions for the 4684 km of gathering pipeline in the study area were estimated at 402 kg CH 4 /hr [95 to 1065 kg CH 4 /hr, 95% CI], or 1% [0.2% to 2.6%] of all methane emissions measured during a prior aircraft study of the same area. Emissions estimated by this study fall within the uncertainty range of emissions estimated using emission factors from EPA’s 2015 Greenhouse Inventory and study activity estimates. While EPA’s current inventory is based upon emission factors from distribution mains measured in the 1990s, this study indicates that using emission factors from more recent distribution studies could significantly underestimate emissions from gathering pipelines. To guide broader studies of pipeline emissions, we also estimate the fraction of the pipeline length within a basin that must be measured to constrain uncertainty of pipeline emissions estimates to within 1% of total basin emissions. The study provides both substantial insight into the mix of emission sources and guidance for future gathering pipeline studies, but since measurements were made in a single basin, the results are not sufficiently representative to provide methane emission factors at the regional or national level.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number70
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-70687


  • Emissions
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Methane
  • Natural gas
  • Pipelines


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