Gulf Coast oil and gas expansion will generate half a billion annual tons of emissions in U.S.: report

Houston—Total annual emissions for oil, gas and petrochemical operations in Texas and Louisiana will add the equivalent of 131 coal-fired power plants in emissions, researchers estimate.

More than half a billion tons of additional greenhouse gas emissions per year — equivalent to 8 percent of total U.S. emissions — may be generated by new oil, gas and petrochemical facilities in Texas and Louisiana, University of Texas researchers estimate.

New petrochemical plants, liquefied natural gas export terminals and refineries being built along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana are likely to contribute to a significant increase in emissions in the coming decade, the new paper by University of Texas researchers found. Total annual emissions of recently built and planned regional oil and gas infrastructure may reach 541 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030, which is roughly the equivalent to adding 131 coal-fired power plants, researchers estimate.

Researchers analyzed projected upstream oil and gas production expansions as well as recently built and expected midstream and downstream facilities. Using data from emissions permits, facility capacities and emissions factors, the researchers projected the expected greenhouse emissions at each facility.

Downstream facilities, such as petrochemical plants and refineries, are likely to contribute the most to the expected rise in emissions in Texas and Louisiana, researchers found, representing about 46 percent of the projected increase, while upstream facilities are expected to contribute 31 percent, and Midstream facilities 22 percent.

Much of the increase in downstream emissions can be attributed to the rise in petrochemical facilities, which are expected to contribute 138 million tons of additional greenhouse gases in Texas each year.

Earlier this month, researchers at the Environmental Integrity Project completed a similar assessment, estimating that emissions from 157 planned oil and gas plants in the U.S. would result in 227 million additional tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

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