Phantom emissions from the Gulf of Mexico: oil & gas pollutes 2 times more than it claims

Research that exposed the phantom emissions appeared on Pnas

(sustainabilityenvironment.com) – Offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico pollute twice as much as they officially state. This is revealed by a study based on real measurements of carbon dioxide and methane near installations, the first to accurately quantify phantom emissions and identify those responsible.

The real data of ghost emissions

To collect this data, the researchers carried out aerial surveys near the platforms and compared them with data on CO2 and CH4 reported in national inventories. Not all sites deviate from the declared volumes of greenhouse gases. The main responsible for phantom emissions are the large multiplatform complexes more dated and close to the coast, which collect oil and gas from small production platforms. The samples carried out by the researchers showed that they emit more methane than expected, due to the use of venting and leaks from tanks and other equipment.

The results of the study, which appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are important for the approval of new fossil infrastructure in the area. In fact, the ok to new offshore platforms is bound to an environmental impact assessment, which could consider the new data. So far, in fact, the basic criterion is carbon intensity, but the assessment often relies on old and partial data, so that often methane is not even taken into account.

We presented the climate impact of oil and gas production as a carbon intensity based on observation,” explains Alan Gorchov Negron, a researcher at the University of Michigan and the first author of the study. “This metric reflects a snapshot of climate impacts in real time and offers a simple way to integrate the growing number of field surveys of emissions from fossil fuel production into a consistent metric”.

In recent days, the Biden administration has auctioned new permits for the exploitation of gas and oil on federal lands (and backdrops), contrary to its promises in the election campaign. The area open to drilling is right in the Gulf of Mexico and covers an area of almost 6,500 km2.

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