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View Diary: Our future is going up in flames (49 comments)

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  •  It's not easy to do (1+ / 0-)
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    for context, there is 9% leakage in fields specifically designed for NG extraction

    Considering that methane (the major component of NG) is a 20-fold more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 (the combustion product of CH4) - if the leakage rate is > 5% it is actually good for the environment to simply burn the fugitive NG than to try to capture it.

    So I suspect that burning the methane in the Bakken is better than trying to capture and sell it if the ultimate concern is global climate change.

    Which of course doesn't address the bigger issue of extracting this oil in the first place (which is measurably worse than the Alberta Tar Sands, for context).

    •  Thanks for that link----very interesting (1+ / 0-)
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      read.  It still bothers me that the leakage rate for NG is simply accepted (or so it seems to be).  I'm new to this---so please excuse my dumb questions---but I can't see why the leakage rate of NG, whether it's in the extracting of the NG itself OR what is leaked via fracking for tar sands oil, is tolerated.  Engineers who design the processes can't do a better job so as to reduce further or eliminate the NG leaking?!  I sometimes think that those involved in energy extraction/mining are some of the least moral people on the face of the earth.  

      "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more." - from the prophet Jeremiah

      by 3goldens on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 02:50:28 PM PDT

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      •  It seems to simply be difficult to capture (2+ / 0-)
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        3goldens, Odysseus

        and distribute natural gas without "leakage"

        For example, in one example (maybe the only one that is "well studied"):

        Natural gas is escaping from more than 3,300 leaks in ­Boston’s underground pipelines, according to a new ­Boston University study that underscores the explosion risk and environmental damage from aging infrastructure ­under city sidewalks and streets.
        That's a lot of leaks!

        I'm too lazy to look it up right now, but the figures I've seen to fix these leaks is enormous (e.g, $3.7 billion? maybe $37 billion - which would be the case over a larger geographical region, for sure).

        I wouldn't doubt that the Bakken producers don't want to open this barrel of worms and are just opting to flare off the NG.

        Which, btw, has been an accepted strategy for a century or more in the western oilfields .. . .

        •  Traditions can still be insane. (1+ / 0-)
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          Which, btw, has been an accepted strategy for a century or more in the western oilfields ....
          They have to capture it to some degree in order to flare it in the first place.

          It just doesn't seem like it would be that hard to drop (even a farily large) pressure tank in the ground and capture it instead.

          And the right of way for the oil pipelines is already established.  How hard can it be to put in a second NG pipeline right beside it?

          -7.75 -4.67

          "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

          There are no Christians in foxholes.

          by Odysseus on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:05:45 AM PDT

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      •  Don't blame the engineers (2+ / 0-)
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        Paul Ferguson, JeffW

        Natural gas almost always comes out of the ground sour, which means there's appreciable amounts of H2S and other contaminants.  So you have to build a processing plant near the site and then a pipeline.  The corporations don't want to spend the time and money to do that.

        The fact that fracked wells don't last all that long may also have something to do with it.

        •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
          Natural gas almost always comes out of the ground sour
          This isn't a correct assessment of this problem.

          Most sour gas is associated with conventional oil and natural gas drilling into hydrocarbon reservoirs.   In order for hydrogen sulfide to accumulate in gas underground, a transport mechanism is necessary with generation of hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan in petroleum liquids which migrate to gas pockets in porous strata in conventional oil and gas production.

          In tight formations, such separation and transfers in nature in the underground don't exist since the coefficient of gaseous diffusivity will be very low in a tight sands or oil shale formation.    I'd expect that shale gas as field gas will generally have significantly less hydrogen sulfide contained in it than would typically occur from most conventional oil and gas produced field gas.

    •  That effort was not a direct measurement (0+ / 0-)

      of the emissions rates of methane from individual natural gas exploration and production sites.

      The air quality dispersion models used to back-determine emission rates are not methods of exact determination of individual point source emission rates.   Any such model exercise may produce results which significantly differ from actual reality because the model assumptions about atmospheric stability class are not capable of an accurate determination of actual atmospheric stability over a, for example, a 100 km air modeling grid.

      As a result, this is an emission calculation depending on the vagaries of the the atmospheric dispersion modeling and many simplifying assumptions about how emissions would be proportioned for modeling purposes.

      What these series of papers is not are direct measurement of emissions from all emission and process units from each natural gas exploration and development site in the geographic domain selected.  

      Because these are back-calculated emission results from atmospheric dispersion models and not direct emission measuresment, you need to realize the limitations of the model predictions in accurately determining emissions.

      •  Because of your first sentence (0+ / 0-)

        I suspect that the method used was MUCH more representative than if they had been trying to monitor individual sites (which could vary considerably from moment to moment and from well to well).

        Plus this is a rather rural area where there is probably very little background leakage from aging infrastructure (such as is the case in Boston - where it has been measured - and probably most other cities where it hasn't been).

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