Oil & Gas Development in the Barnett Shale, the
Contribution to Air Emissions in the Fort Worth Area, and The Availability of Cost-Effective Emissions Control Options
I began work in 2008 to develop an air emissions inventory for the oil and gas activity in the Barnett Shale area around the City of Fort Worth. This area has become a huge source of natural gas production, with significant quantities of liquid condensate and crude oil also being produced. The activity in the area includes production (drilling, etc.), processing, compression, and transport of large quantities of natural gas, and the storage of liquid condensate in numerous tanks.
The use of natural gas has significant advantages to the use of coal for electricity generation, including lower emissions of sulfur, mercury, and greenhouse gases. However, the production, processing, compression, and transport of the gas can result in significant quantities of air emissions.
There is a common misconception that all the natural gas being produced in the Barnett Shale is “clean” gas or "dry gas", with no potential impact to the environment. However, the official records from the Texas Railroad Commission demonstrate that oil/gas activity in the approximately 20 counties of the Barnett Shale area produces hundreds of thousands of barrels of condensate liquid and crude oil, which are stored in thousands of above-ground tanks that vent to the atmosphere. These quantities are reported by the oil/gas producers themselves to the RRC. The production (upstream) and processing and transport (midstream) parts of the natural gas sector can have very large environmental impacts.
In May 2007, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved the latest round of revisions to the clean air plan for the D-FW metro area. On the day the commissioners approved the plan, testimony was given which indicated that the emissions inventory in the plan was likely underestimating emissions from the oil/gas sector in the Fort Worth area, perhaps by a factor of 10 or more. Nonetheless, the commissioners approved the plan.
Motivated by the revelations in May 2007, I began discussions with the Austin office of the Environmental Defense Fund, and they retained me to work on an emissions inventory for oil/gas sources in the Barnett Shale. The goal was to provide an independent and accurate inventory of emissions from the oil and gas sector, since it appeared that the inventories being used by state and federal regulators pre-May 2007 were seriously in error.
In addition to quantifying emissions, I was able to identify a number of emissions control options that would not only reduce emissions, but these approaches would also result in increased revenue to producers by decreasing the amount of hydrocarbons vented to the atmosphere. These cost-effective options have short pay-back periods, after which the increase in revenue pays for the initial pollution control investment.
Below are links to the emissions inventory report that I released in January 2009, along with associated documents written by me and others.
Al Armendariz, Emissions Inventory Report, January 28, 2009 - "Emissions from Natural Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Area and Opportunities for Cost-Effective Improvements."
EDF Press Release, February 10, 2009 - "Report Finds Barnett Shale Emissions Contributing to DFW Smog Recommendations for cost-effective controls could improve Metroplex air quality."
Some of the media coverage of the report:
Fort Worth Business Press
Dallas Morning News
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
and many others...
Industry lobbyists rebuttal #1, plus my rebuttal to their rebuttal.
Industry lobbyists rebuttal #2.
: TCEQ Data Report in April 2009 Supports Accuracy of SMU/EDF Emissions Inventory.
-- Statement by Al Armendariz on new TCEQ data, May 27, 2009
-- TCEQ Data Report, by Kevin Cauble, Manager IEAS/AQD/CEO, TCEQ, 4/9/2009
-- TCEQ Data Report, with summary page added by me.
-- media coverage in the FW Star-Telegram and wire services.
You can review additional information about what I do here:
TEACHING RESEARCH CLEAN AIR COMMUNITY SERVICE
and a pdf version of my CV is here.
Prof. Al Armendariz
Southern Methodist University
P.O. Box 750340
Dallas, TX 75275-0340
Department of Environmental and Civil Engineering
SMU Lyle School of Engineering SMU
The contents of this Web page are the sole responsibility of
Professor Al Armendariz and do not necessarily represent
the opinions or policies of Southern Methodist University.
The administrator of this Web page is Professor Al Armendariz
who may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-365-8370.