Publication Details

Title : Life-Cycle Analysis of Shale gas and Natural Gas
Publication Date : December 31, 2011
Authors : C. Clark, J.Han, A. Burnham, J.B. Dunn, M.Q. Wang
Abstract : The technologies and practices that have enabled the recent boom in shale gas production have also brought attention to the environmental impacts of its use. Using the current state of knowledge of the recovery, processing, and distribution of shale gas and conventional natural gas, we have estimated up-to-date, life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, we have developed distribution functions for key parameters in each pathway to examine uncertainty and identify data gaps — such as methane emissions from shale gas well completions and conventional natural gas liquid unloadings — that need to be addressed further. Our base case results show that shale gas life-cycle emissions are 6% lower than those of conventional natural gas. However, the range in values for shale and conventional gas overlap, so there is a statistical uncertainty regarding whether shale gas emissions are indeed lower than conventional gas emissions. This life-cycle analysis provides insight into the critical stages in the natural gas industry where emissions occur and where opportunities exist to reduce the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas.

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