Development of Top-down Hydrocarbon Emission from Oil and Gas Production in the Uintah Basin

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  • Principal Investigators: Seth Lyman (Utah State University), John C. Lin (University of Utah)
  • Study Period: July 1, 2021 – June 30, 2023.
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $106,095
  • DAQ Contact: Lexie Wilson (

In this project, we are proposing to use a method known as top-down emission estimation to refine Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) emissions from oil and gas production (O&G) based on long-term surface level measurements of methane (CH4) and hydrocarbons in the Uintah Basin (UB). The objective of this project is to improve the Utah Division of Air Quality (UDAQ)’s bottom-up Uintah Basin Emission Inventory (UBEI), which is critical information for developing a regulatory model for the State Implementation Plan (SIP) to attain the ozone (O3) standard. This project will be conducted as a collaboration of Utah State University (USU) and University of Utah (UoU).

Emissions of CH4 in the UB will be estimated using the Stochastic Time-Inverted Lagrangian Transport (STILT) model, then VOC emissions will be estimated based on CH4/VOC-species ratios. Here we make use of the near surface long-term observations of CH4 in the UB, coupled with VOC observations, to scale up the VOC emissions to the Basin level and probe multi-year shifts in VOC emissions. Finally, top-down emissions, as derived with this method, will be utilized in a photochemical model and evaluated for ozone performance. Our proposed project would address one of the goals and priorities defined in the RFP: (IV) Emission Inventory Improvements. The project leverages long-term measurements of CH4 by UoU and VOC by USU from stationary stations and from recent USU’s mobile canister samplings in the UB.

Image: WRF zoom-in of 1.33km-domain with black circles
indicating monitoring stations used for model performance evaluation