A Machine Learning Approach to Methane Emissions Mitigation in the Oil and Gas Industry (Papers Track) Overall Best Paper

Jiayang Wang (Harrisburg University); Selvaprabu Nadarajah (University of Illinois at Chicago); Jingfan Wang (Stanford University); Arvind Ravikumar (Harrisburg University)

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Reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector is a key component of climate policy in the United States. Methane leaks across the supply chain are stochastic and intermittent, with a small number of sites (‘super-emitters’) responsible for a majority of emissions. Thus, cost-effective emissions reduction critically relies on effectively identifying the super-emitters from thousands of well-sites and millions of miles of pipelines. Conventional approaches such as walking surveys using optical gas imaging technology are slow and time-consuming. In addition, several variables contribute to the formation of leaks such as infrastructure age, production, weather conditions, and maintenance practices. Here, we develop a machine learning algorithm to predict high-emitting sites that can be prioritized for follow-up repair. Such prioritization can significantly reduce the cost of surveys and increase emissions reductions compared to conventional approaches. Our results show that the algorithm using logistic regression performs the best out of several algorithms. The model achieved a 70% accuracy rate with a 57% recall and a 66% balanced accuracy rate. Compared to the conventional approach, the machine learning model reduced the time to achieve a 50% emissions mitigation target by 42%. Correspondingly, the mitigation cost reduced from $85/t CO2e to $49/t CO2e.

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