Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Federal Oil and Gas Leases: Opportunities Exist to Capture Vented and Flared Natural Gas, Which Would Increase Royalty Payments and Reduce Greenhouse

This Government Accountability Office report (GAO-11-34), dated October 29, 2010, finds that data collected by Interior to track venting and flaring on federal leases likely underestimate venting and flaring because they do not account for all sources of lost gas.

For onshore federal leases, operators reported to Interior that about 0.13 percent of produced gas was vented or flared. Estimates from EPA and the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP) showed volumes as high as 30 times higher. Similarly, for offshore federal leases, operators reported that 0.5 percent of the natural gas produced was vented and flared, while data from an Interior offshore air quality study showed that volume to be about 1.4 percent, and estimates from EPA showed it to be about 2.3 percent.

GAO found that the volumes operators reported to Interior do not fully account for some ongoing losses such as the emissions from gas dehydration equipment or from thousands of valves—key sources in the EPA, WRAP, and Interior offshore air quality studies.

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