Skip to main content

Study finds low methane emissions from natural gas collection and processing facilities


Carlton Carroll | 202.682.8114 | carrollc@api.org


WASHINGTON, February 10, 2015 – The vast majority of natural gas collection and processing facilities have methane leak rates of less than 1 percent, according to a major field study led by Colorado State University that examined 114 gathering facilities and 16 processing plants across 13 states.

“The industry has every incentive to reduce emissions and sell more natural gas to consumers,” said API Senior Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman. “We’re making remarkable progress reducing emissions, and this progress will continue as operators detect and seal leaks – including leaks from the few high emitting sites identified in the study. Burdensome new regulations would only interfere with our progress reducing emissions and jeopardize production of the clean-burning natural gas that has helped drive U.S. carbon emissions to near 20-year lows.”

Of 130 facilities the study examined, 101 had methane loss rates below 1 percent, according to the study.

Methane emissions from oil and gas production declined by 38 percent from 2005 to 2012, and methane emissions from hydraulically fractured natural gas wells have plummeted 73 percent since 2011, according to EPA data.

A major field study by the University of Texas and sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund and natural gas producers in 2014 found that methane emissions from development and production of natural gas are down 10 percent from what the same research team found a year earlier and now represent only 0.38 percent of production.

“EPA’s own analysis shows that new methane regulations announced by the Obama administration are unnecessary in view of the dramatic progress the oil and natural gas industry is already making in reducing emissions,” Feldman said. “New regulations on methane emissions may score positive headlines and political points, but they may also undermine President Obama’s overall climate goals, as well as job-creating energy development. Regulatory policy should be based on science, not politics.”

API is the only national trade association representing all facets of the oil and natural gas industry, which supports 9.8 million U.S. jobs and 8 percent of the U.S. economy. API’s more than 625 members include large integrated companies, as well as exploration and production, refining, marketing, pipeline, and marine businesses, and service and supply firms. They provide most of the nation’s energy and are backed by a growing grassroots movement of more than 25 million Americans.