A main concern surrounding (shale) gas production and exploitation is the leakage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. High leakage rates have been observed outside of Europe but the representativeness of these observations for Europe is unknown. To facilitate the monitoring of methane leakage from a future shale gas industry in Europe we developed potential production scenarios for ten major shale gas plays and identified a suitable tracer in (shale) gas to distinguish oil and gas related emissions from other methane sources. To distinguish gas leakage from other methane sources we propose ethane, a known tracer for leakage from oil and gas production but absent in emissions from other important methane sources in Europe. Ethane contents for the ten plays are estimated from a European gas composition database and shale gas composition and reservoir data from the US, resulting in three different classes of ethane to methane ratios in the raw gas (0.015, 0.04 and 0.1). The ethane content classes have a relation with the average thermal maturity, a basic shale gas reservoir characteristic, which is known for all ten European shale gas plays. By assuming different production scenarios in addition to a range of possible gas leakage rates, we estimate potential ethane tracer release by shale gas play. Ethane emissions are estimated by play following a low, medium or high gas production scenario in combination with leakage rates ranging from 0.2%–10% based on observed leakage rates in the US.
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Visschedijk, A. J. H., Denier van der Gon, H. A. C., Doornenbal, H. C., & Cremonese, L. (2018). Methane and ethane emission scenarios for potential shale gas production in Europe. Advances in geosciences: ADGEO, 45, 125-131. doi:10.5194/adgeo-45-125-2018.
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