University of Michigan

To use airborne and satellite measurements to monitor offshore energy production and natural gas flaring

  • Amount $1,422,772
  • City Ann Arbor, MI
  • Investigator Eric Kort
  • Year 2019
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Energy and Environment

Few rigorous studies have attempted to accurately measure greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from offshore oil and gas facilities or sites that flare natural gas. Similarly, it is also important to measure GHG emissions from onshore operations that flare natural gas, a common occurrence at shale fracking sites. Getting better estimates of GHG emissions from offshore oil and gas sites and natural gas flaring sites can have a marked effect on our understanding of actual emissions from these understudied domains of energy production. This grant funds a coordinated field campaign, led by Eric Kort at the University of Michigan, to rigorously measure emissions from offshore oil and gas production facilities and onshore natural gas flaring sites. The research team will estimate GHG emissions by combining and synthesizing remote sensing satellite data with direct observations collected from a series of aircraft flights over multiple oil and gas production sites. The study will target offshore production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico and off the California and Alaska coasts, and it will measure emissions at flaring sites in both west Texas and North DakotaŠ„s Bakken Shale. Remote sensing data will be pulled from a recently launched environmental monitoring satellite called TROPOMI, and by a new satellite to be launched by the Environmental Defense Fund. If successful, the project will deploy sensor technologies in novel ways, collect and integrate data across multiple scales, and break new scientific ground by making more detailed measurements of GHG emitting sites than had previously taken place.

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