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Small Number of Permian Oil and Gas Sites Are Releasing Large Amounts of Methane

Climate
Small Number of Permian Oil and Gas Sites Are Releasing Large Amounts of Methane
Oil is extracted from oil wells in the Permian Basin in Midland, Texas on May 3, 2018. Benjamin Lowy / Getty Images

A relatively tiny number of Permian oil and gas sites are responsible for a wildly disproportionate amount of methane pollution, a new study from Methane Source Finder found.


The research, a joint project of NASA, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University, revealed just 123 of the 60,000 sites (0.205%) surveyed in the month-long study accounted for 29% of the region's methane pollution — largely from leaks that are typically easy to repair.

Methane traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20 year period, and the research echoes an analysis of EPA data released last week that found the 195 smallest U.S. oil and gas extractors were responsible for 22% of total emissions, despite only accounting for 9% of production.

The Trump administration weakened methane leak detection and repair requirements in its final months and the Senate, though not the House, has taken action to reinstate the Obama-era protections.

For a deeper dive:

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