HKS Affiliated Authors

Additional Authors:

  • Daniel Jacob
  • Robert Stowe


May 31, 2023, Paper: "We use 2019 TROPOMI satellite observations of atmospheric methane in an analytical inversion to quantify methane emissions from the Middle East and North Africa at up to ∼25 km × 25 km resolution, using spatially allocated national United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reports as prior estimates for the fuel sector. Our resulting best estimate of anthropogenic emissions for the region is 35 % higher than the prior bottom-up inventories (+103 % for gas, +53 % for waste, +49 % for livestock, −14 % for oil) with large variability across countries. Oil and gas account for 38 % of total anthropogenic emissions in the region. TROPOMI observations can effectively optimize and separate national emissions by sector for most of the 23 countries in the region, with 6 countries accounting for most of total anthropogenic emissions including Iran (5.3 (5.0–5.5) Tg a−1; best estimate and uncertainty range), Turkmenistan (4.4 (2.8–5.1) Tg a−1), Saudi Arabia (4.3 (2.4–6.0) Tg a−1), Algeria (3.5 (2.4–4.4) Tg a−1), Egypt (3.4 (2.5–4.0) Tg a−1), and Turkey (3.0 (2.0–4.1) Tg a−1). Most oil–gas emissions are from the production (upstream) subsector, but Iran, Turkmenistan, and Saudi Arabia have large gas emissions from transmission and distribution subsectors. We identify a high number of annual oil–gas emission hotspots in Turkmenistan, Algeria, and Oman and offshore in the Persian Gulf. We show that oil–gas methane emissions for individual countries are not related to production, invalidating a basic premise in the construction of activity-based bottom-up inventories. Instead, local infrastructure and management practices appear to be key drivers of oil–gas emissions, emphasizing the need for including top-down information from atmospheric observations in the construction of oil–gas emission inventories. We examined the methane intensity, defined as the upstream oil–gas emission per unit of methane gas produced, as a measure of the potential for decreasing emissions from the oil–gas sector and using as reference the 0.2 % target set by the industry. We find that the methane intensity in most countries is considerably higher than this target, reflecting leaky infrastructure combined with deliberate venting or incomplete flaring of gas. However, we also find that Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar meet the industry target and thus show that the target is achievable through the capture of associated gas, modern infrastructure, and the concentration of operations. Decreasing methane intensities across the Middle East and North Africa to 0.2 % would achieve a 90 % decrease in oil–gas upstream emissions and a 26 % decrease in total anthropogenic methane emissions in the region, making a significant contribution toward the Global Methane Pledge." Read Via EGU