Quantifying NOx Emissions from U.S. Oil and Gas Production Regions Using...

Dix, B., C. B. Francoeur, M. Li, R. Serrano-Calvo, P. Levelt, J. P. Veefkind, B. McDonald, and J. A. de Gouw (2022), Quantifying NOx Emissions from U.S. Oil and Gas Production Regions Using TROPOMI NO2, Anal. Chem., 403, 403−414, doi:10.1021/acsearthspacechem.1c00387.

The production of crude oil and natural gas is associated with emissions of air pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx = NO + NO2) and volatile organic compounds, which are precursors for the formation of ground-level ozone. Knowledge of these emissions is critical to the understanding and mitigation of local air quality. NOx emissions from oil and gas production activities are not well described in commonly used emission inventories, and discrepancies of several factors have been found in the past. Here we present an easy and computationally efficient method to quantify NOx emissions from satellite NO2 observations that can be applied to evaluate common emission inventories and provide timely input for chemistry transport models. Using NO2 columns from the TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument (TROPOMI), we calculated annually averaged NOx emissions from the divergence of NO2 column fluxes for six oil and gas production regions in the United States. Derived NOx emissions for the years 2018 to 2020 range between 4.8 and 81.1 t/day, and observed trends over time are consistent with changes in industrial activity. To evaluate the method, we compared our results with the fuel-based oil and gas NOx inventory (FOG) and performed sensitivity studies using model output from the Weather Research Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF-Chem). We found that annually averaged NOx emissions from oil and gas production activities can in most cases be calculated within an uncertainty of 50%, while simultaneously derived emission maps show the spatial distribution of NOx emissions with a high level of detail. For future use, this method can easily be applied globally.

PDF of Publication: 
Download from publisher's website.
Research Program: 
Atmospheric Composition
Atmospheric Composition Modeling and Analysis Program (ACMAP)