Measurements of methane emissions from natural gas gathering facilities and processing plants: measurement results

Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Mar 3;49(5):3219-27. doi: 10.1021/es5052809. Epub 2015 Feb 10.


Facility-level methane emissions were measured at 114 gathering facilities and 16 processing plants in the United States natural gas system. At gathering facilities, the measured methane emission rates ranged from 0.7 to 700 kg per hour (kg/h) (0.6 to 600 standard cubic feet per minute (scfm)). Normalized emissions (as a % of total methane throughput) were less than 1% for 85 gathering facilities and 19 had normalized emissions less than 0.1%. The range of methane emissions rates for processing plants was 3 to 600 kg/h (3 to 524 scfm), corresponding to normalized methane emissions rates <1% in all cases. The distributions of methane emissions, particularly for gathering facilities, are skewed. For example, 30% of gathering facilities contribute 80% of the total emissions. Normalized emissions rates are negatively correlated with facility throughput. The variation in methane emissions also appears driven by differences between inlet and outlet pressure, as well as venting and leaking equipment. Substantial venting from liquids storage tanks was observed at 20% of gathering facilities. Emissions rates at these facilities were, on average, around four times the rates observed at similar facilities without substantial venting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants / analysis*
  • Environmental Monitoring / statistics & numerical data*
  • Extraction and Processing Industry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Methane / analysis*
  • Natural Gas*
  • United States


  • Air Pollutants
  • Natural Gas
  • Methane