A generation ago, ‘climate change’ was a foreign term in Nepal and there was very little understanding or awareness of it in the media and in society. This saddened Bindu Bhandari, and it made her think about Nepal’s position as one of the most vulnerable countries to the global impact.
“When I started working on climate in 2014, I was an undergraduate student, and still didn’t know about these issues. I became concerned that the real victims of climate change don’t know much about it and have few ways to adapt to it,” says Bhandari, who currently works as climate program associate at Climate Interactive.
A student of veterinary science, Bhandari began to see the linkages between climate change and what she was studying: “We are in the frontlines of climate change. But that does not mean that we are simply victims. It’s also an opportunity.”
Venting is the direct release of methane gas to the atmosphere. Venting occurs at a number of points in the oil and gas development process (well completion; well maintenance; pipeline maintenance; tank maintenance; etc.).
During oil and gas development, huge quantities of gas may vent to the atmosphere. For example, during well completion, after a well is fracked, the wellbore and surrounding formation must be cleaned out. The solids and fluids from the well go into pits, while the gases are allowed to escape into the atmosphere, or they are burned off (flared). It has been estimated that a single well in Wyoming’s Jonah field will emit 115 tons of VOCs, and 4 tons of hazardous air pollutants such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene and hexanes. If the gas is flared, rather than vented, the emissions of VOCs and HAPs are reduced to 29 and 1 ton, respectively; but flaring of completion gases also results in the release more than a ton of nitrogen oxides, and almost half a ton of carbon monoxide per well.
The primary component of natural gas is methane, which is odorless when it comes directly out of the gas well. At gas processing facilities, chemical odorants such as mercaptans are added to methane, so that consumers are able to smell it in the event of a gas leak. In addition to methane, natural gas typically contains other hydrocarbons such as ethane, propane, butane, and pentanes. Raw natural gas may also contain water vapor, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), carbon dioxide, helium, nitrogen, and other compounds. If the concentration of H2S in the gas is high enough, there may also be a “rotten egg” odor associated with the gas.
Flareless ‘Green’ Completions
In flareless or green completions the gas that comes to the surface is separated from fluids and solids using a series of heavy-duty separators (sometimes referred to as “flowback units”). The water is discharged to tanks to be reused, the sand is sent to a reserve pit, and the gas is either cycled back through the well bore, or sent to a pipeline to be sold rather than vented or flared.
Designing policy for climate change requires analyses which integrate the interrelationship between the economy and environment, including: the immense risks and impacts on distribution across and within generations; the many failures, limitations or absences of key markets; and the limitations on government, both in offsetting these failures and distributional impacts.
Much of the standard economic modelling, including Integrated Assessment Models, does not embody key aspects of these essentials.
We identify fundamental flaws in both the descriptive and normative methodologies commonly used to assess climate policy, showing systematic biases, with costs of climate action overestimated and benefits underestimated. We provide an alternative methodology by which the social cost of carbon may be calculated, one which embraces the essential elements we have identified.