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Nat Gas Drilling Emissions Increase, Reporting Requirements Expand

Natural gas drilling industry emissions have increased along with operations activity, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Environment Protection.

The state requires drilling companies to report data to the DEP under Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act.

The inventory represents 2013 emissions from Marcellus Shale natural gas production and processing operations as well as compressor stations that receive gas from coal gas and conventional oil and gas well sites.

In 2013, the number of well sites included in the emissions inventory increased by 18.3 percent. The number of midstream facilities that submitted data increased by 8.2 percent.

The 2013 data shows the following difference from 2012 levels:

  • sulfur dioxide: 57 percent increase
  • volatile organic compounds: 19 percent increase
  • particulate matter: 12 percent increase
  • nitrogen oxides: 8 percent increase
  • methane: 13 percent decrease
  • carbon monoxide: 10 percent decrease

Acting DEP secretary John Quigley says the increase in emissions was not unexpected because the industry is growing.

The DEP began collecting emissions data from owners and operators of unconventional natural gas sources in 2011. For 2012, the agency expanded the data reporting requirement to include mid-stream compressor stations that support the conventional natural gas industry. The DEP again expanded the reporting requirements in 2013 to include data from mid-stream compressor stations that support coal-bed methane formations.

In addition to compressor stations, other sources and activities of natural gas operations that the DEP identified as part of the inventory include dehydration units; drill rigs; fugitives, such as connectors, flanges, pump lines, pump seals and valves; heaters; pneumatic controllers and pumps; stationary engines; tanks, pressurized vessels and impoundments; venting and blow down systems; well heads and well completions.

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