Emissions of Organic Compounds from Produced Water Ponds II: Evaluation of flux-chamber measurements with inverse-modeling techniques
In this study, we apply two different dispersion models to evaluate flux chamber measurements of emissions of 58 organic compounds, including C2-C11 hydrocarbons and methanol, ethanol, and isopropanol from oil and gas produced water ponds in the Uintah Basin. Field measurement campaigns using the flux chamber technique were performed at a limited number of produced water ponds in the Basin throughout 2013–2016. Inverse modeling results showed significantly higher emissions than were measured by the flux chamber. Discrepancies between the two methods vary across hydrocarbon compounds and are largest in alcohols due to their physical chemistries. This finding, in combination with findings in a related study using the WATER9 wastewater emission model, suggest the flux chamber technique may underestimate organic compound emissions, especially alcohols, due to its limited coverage of the pond area and alteration of environmental conditions, especially wind speed. Comparisons of inverse-model estimations with flux-chamber measurements varied significantly with the complexity of pond facilities and geometries. Both model results and flux chamber measurements suggest significant contributions from produced water ponds to total organic compound emission from oil and gas productions in the Basin.
Implications: This research is a component of an extensive study which showed significant amount of hydrocarbon emissions from produced water ponds in the Uintah Basin, Utah. Such findings have important meanings to air quality management agencies in developing control strategies for air pollution in oil and gas fields, especially for the Uintah Basin in which ozone pollutions frequently occurred in winter seasons.