In “Chasing Methane,” the loss of methane in hydraulic fracturing is reported by the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration to be 6 to 12% of the methane recovered—10 or 20 times that measured at the wellhead (C&EN, Sept. 30, 2013, page 24). Can I assume that NOAA got its numbers from atmospheric analyses? If so, one has to ask whether the disruption of shale releases far more methane from the explosive disturbance of the shale than is measured at the wellhead.
This great discrepancy should cry out for prompt resolution. If the amount released is that high, aren’t we kidding ourselves about the viability of fracking? If NOAA’s number is in the ballpark, that would tell us that burning gas from fracking is worse than using coal, that it is not environmentally justified, and that fracking is itself an unacceptable source of global warming.
Please tell me I’m wrong.
Victor J. Reilly