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Natural Gas STAR Program

Primary Sources of Methane Emissions

Methane emissions occur in all sectors of the natural gas industry, from production, through processing and transmission, to distribution. They primarily result from normal operations, routine maintenance, fugitive leaks, and system upsets.

As gas moves through the system, emissions occur through intentional venting and unintentional leaks. Venting can occur through equipment design or operational practices, such as the continuous bleed of gas from pneumatic devices (that control gas flows, levels, temperatures, and pressures in the equipment), or venting from well completions during production. In addition to vented emissions, methane losses can occur from leaks (also referred to as fugitive emissions) in all parts of the infrastructure, from connections between pipes and vessels, to valves and equipment.

Methane emissions can also occur from the oil industry as result of:

  • Field production operations:  Venting of associated gas from oil wells and storage tanks
  • Production-related equipment:  Gas dehydrators, pig traps and pneumatic devices