Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Chemical Engineering

Reader in Energy Systems



+44 (0)20 7594 9300a.hawkes




Ms Quasirat Hasnat +44 (0)20 7594 7250




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BibTex format

author = {Balcombe, P and Brandon, NP and Hawkes, AD},
doi = {10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.11.223},
journal = {Journal of Cleaner Production},
pages = {2019--2032},
title = {Characterising the distribution of methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural gas supply chain},
url = {},
volume = {172},
year = {2017}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Methane and CO2 emissions from the natural gas supply chain have been shown to vary widely butthere is little understanding about the distribution of emissions across supply chain routes,processes, regions and operational practises. This study defines the distribution of total methaneand CO2 emissions from the natural gas supply chain, identifying the contribution from each stageand quantifying the effect of key parameters on emissions. The study uses recent high-resolutionemissions measurements with estimates of parameter distributions to build a probabilistic emissionsmodel for a variety of technological supply chain scenarios. The distribution of emissions resemblesa log-log-logistic distribution for most supply chain scenarios, indicating an extremely heavy tailedskew: median estimates which represent typical facilities are modest at 18 – 24 g CO2 eq./ MJ HHV,but mean estimates which account for the heavy tail are 22 – 107 g CO2 eq./ MJ HHV. To place thesevalues into context, emissions associated with natural gas combustion (e.g. for heat) areapproximately 55 g CO2/ MJ HHV. Thus, some supply chain scenarios are major contributors to totalgreenhouse gas emissions from natural gas. For methane-only emissions, median estimates are 0.8 –2.2% of total methane production, with mean emissions of 1.6 - 5.5%. The heavy tail distribution isthe signature of the disproportionately large emitting equipment known as super-emitters, whichappear at all stages of the supply chain. The study analyses the impact of different technologicaloptions and identifies a set of best technological option (BTO) scenarios. This suggests thatemissions-minimising technology can reduce supply chain emissions significantly, with this studyestimating median emissions of 0.9% of production. However, even with the emissions-minimisingtechnologies, evidence suggests that the influence of the super-emitters remains. Therefore,emissions-minimising technology is only part of the soluti
AU - Balcombe,P
AU - Brandon,NP
AU - Hawkes,AD
DO - 10.1016/j.jclepro.2017.11.223
EP - 2032
PY - 2017///
SN - 0959-6526
SP - 2019
TI - Characterising the distribution of methane and carbon dioxide emissions from the natural gas supply chain
T2 - Journal of Cleaner Production
UR -
UR -
VL - 172
ER -