Offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico release much more methane pollution than operations on land, a study published in Environmental Research Letters finds. Permian Basin oil and gas drilling operations have a “methane loss rate” (a calculation of methane pollution relative to reported extraction) of about 4%, but the academic, NGO, and NASA researchers’ survey of 150 shallow water oil and gas platforms in the Gulf of Mexico revealed loss rates between 23% and 66%.
Methane, the primary ingredient in what the industry calls “natural gas” traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 over a 20 year timeframe. Offshore oil and gas operations account for about 30% of global extraction but monitoring of their pollution has been limited, largely due to their remote location. The Biden administration has promised to cut methane pollution by 30% by 2030, the main target of its highly-touted Global Methane Pledge. (E&E $, Reuters)