Category: Uinta Basin Oil & Gas Current & Ongoing Studies

The Uinta Basin, a structural basin located in the remote northeastern corner of the state of Utah, is the main oil and gas development hub in the state. It has unique atmospheric chemistry regimes during the winter that create ozone concentrations that sometimes exceed those in the largest U.S. cities. The following studies have helped the Division of Air Quality better understand the complex atmospheric conditions of this region.

Current & Recently Completed Studies

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

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

Utah State University and the University of Utah will use a method known as top-down emission estimation to refine volatile organic compound emissions from oil and gas production based on long-term surface level measurements of methane and hydrocarbons in the Uintah Basin. The objective of this project is to improve the Utah Division of Air Quality (UDAQ) bottom-up Uintah Basin Emission Inventory (UBEI), which is critical information for developing a regulatory model for UDAQ’s State Implementation Plan to attain the 8-hour federal ozone standard.

  • Principal Investigators: Seth Lyman (Utah State University), John C. Lin (University of Utah)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $106,095
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Image: Observed ozone concentrations at Ouray and Vernal during January – March 2013. Time in MST.

Assessing Wintertime Ozone Prediction Sensitivity to Photochemical Mechanism

Ramboll and the Utah State University – Bingham Research Center (BRC) will conduct a study to thoroughly investigate wintertime ozone prediction sensitivity in the Uinta Basin among two current photochemical mechanisms using a consistent modeling platform. Recent air quality modeling conducted by BRC using different modeling systems indicates that the Regional Atmospheric Chemistry Mechanism (RACM) produces much higher ozone concentrations than the Carbon Bond (CB) mechanisms. Ramboll and the BRC will comprehensively test and understand RACM2 performance in simulating wintertime ozone in the Uinta Basin relative to the CB version 6 (CB6) mechanism currently implemented in the CAMx air quality model used by the Utah Division of Air Quality.

  • Principal Investigators: Greg Yarwood (Ramboll), Seth Lyman (Utah State University)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $98,048
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Emissions Reactive Organics

Emissions of Reactive Organics from Natural Gas-Fueled Engines

Utah State University scientists will improve estimates of the magnitude and composition of emissions from natural gas-fueled artificial lift engines in the Uinta Basin. Recent ambient air measurements have implicated natural gas-fueled engines as a large source of reactive organics, including formaldehyde, ethylene, propylene, and other compounds. The results from this project will allow Utah DAQ to better understand and model this source of ozone-forming pollution in the Uinta Basin and develop science-based, effective emissions reduction strategies for wintertime ozone.

  • Principal Investigators: Seth Lyman (USU), Huy Tran (USU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $117,300
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Improving Volatile Organic Compound Emission Estimates for the Uintah Basin

This study builds on last year’s effort to improve the speciation of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from oil and gas wells in the Uintah Basin. Better speciation profiles will yield a better emission inventory for the basin and will help focus emission reduction strategies.

  • Principal Investigators: Trang Tran, Huy Tran (USU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $140,000
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Model Map Graphic

Improving WRF/CMAQ Model Performance using Satellite Data Assimilation Technique for the Uintah Basin

This study will test if satellite observations of vegetation and land use can be used to improve photochemical model performance in the Uintah basin. An improved model will help inform emission reduction strategies and regulatory action.

  • Principal Investigators: Huy Tran, Trang Tran (USU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Research Grant: $38,392
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IR Camera

ULend Program

The ULend program is a collaborative approach for fixing compliance issues before they become a regulatory problem. The program focuses on small oil and gas producers who might not be able to afford the kind of expensive equipment that could help them identify and repair leaks early.

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VOC Emissions

Composition of Volatile Organic Compound Emissions From Oil and Gas Wells in the Uinta Basin

The Utah Division of Air Quality (UDAQ) is leading a new effort to improve estimates of the speciation of organic compound emissions from Uinta Basin oil and gas wells. Utah State University (USU) will work with UDAQ to collect and analyze pressurized gas and liquid samples from oil and gas well separators, as well as conduct data processing and analysis.

  • Principal Investigators: Seth Lyman, Trang Tran (USU)
  • Funded by Science for Solutions Grant: $30,358
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