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COVID-19 impact on the oil and gas industry emissions: a case study of methane and nitrogen dioxide in the Permian basin
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  • Raquel Serrano-Calvo,
  • Pepijn Veefkind,
  • Barbara Klara Dix,
  • Joost A de Gouw,
  • Pieternel F Levelt
Raquel Serrano-Calvo
Delft University of Technology, Dept. Geoscience and Civil Engineering

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Pepijn Veefkind
Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute
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Barbara Klara Dix
University of Colorado Boulder
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Joost A de Gouw
University of Colorado Boulder
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Pieternel F Levelt
National Center for Atmospheric Research
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COVID-19 caused an historic collapse in fossil fuel demand, a general decline in economic activity and hydrocarbon price volatility. This resulted in an unprecedent scenario to evaluate the contribution of the oil and gas industry (O&G) to methane (CH4) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions in the Permian basin (U.S.), currently the second largest hydrocarbon-bearing area on Earth. TROPOMI (Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument), on board the Sentinel-5P satellite, has captured the impact of the oil and gas industry during the COVID-19 lockdown. Production and drilling declined (13 % and 68 % respectively) during the lockdown, causing a generalized drop (~30 %) of NO2emissions derived using the divergence method in comparison with 2019. NO2 tropospheric columns were less impacted with a smaller decrease (~4 %) across the basins. On the other hand, the impact of the lockdown in methane (increase of 0.1 % to 0.3 % across the basins) was not as evident as in the NO2, because of the large background cause by the long lifetime (12 years), the variability of the meteorology, and the limited temporal sampling due to the strict thresholds of the retrieval algorithm. This study demonstrates that the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on NO2 and CH4emissions was not only present in urban areas but also in vast O&G production regions, which shows the potential of TROPOMI to assess future pollution mitigation strategies for this industry.