Scientific References

Peer Reviewed Literature: Mobile measurement of methane and hydrogen sulfide at natural gas production site fence lines in the Texas Barnett Shale

Authors Eapi, G.R., Sabnis, M.S., and Sattler, M.L.
Presented at
Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 64(8), p. 927-944, 2014, doi:10.1080/10962247.2014.907098


Production of natural gas from shale formations is bringing drilling and production operations to regions of the United States that have seen little or no similar activity in the past, which has generated considerable interest in potential environmental impacts. This study focused on the Barnett Shale Fort Worth Basin in Texas, which saw the number of gas-producing wells grow from 726 in 2001 to 15,870 in 2011. This study aimed to measure fence line concentrations of methane and hydrogen sulfide at natural gas production sites (wells, liquid storage tanks, and associated equipment) in the four core counties of the Barnett Shale (Denton, Johnson, Tarrant, and Wise). A mobile measurement survey was conducted in the vicinity of 4788 wells near 401 lease sites, representing 35% of gas production volume, 31% of wells, and 38% of condensate production volume in the four-county core area. Methane and hydrogen sulfide concentrations were measured using a Picarro G2204 cavity ring-down spectrometer (CRDS). Since the research team did not have access to lease site interiors, measurements were made by driving on roads on the exterior of the lease sites. Over 150 hr of data were collected from March to July 2012. During two sets of drive-by measurements, it was found that 66 sites (16.5%) had methane concentrations >3 parts per million (ppm) just beyond the fence line. Thirty-two lease sites (8.0%) had hydrogen sulfide concentrations >4.7 parts per billion (ppb) (odor recognition threshold) just beyond the fence line. Measured concentrations generally did not correlate well with site characteristics (natural gas production volume, number of wells, or condensate production). t tests showed that for two counties, methane concentrations for dry sites were higher than those for wet sites. Follow-up study is recommended to provide more information at sites identified with high levels of methane and hydrogen sulfide.