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Environ Sci Technol. 2015 Jan 6;49(1):679-86. doi: 10.1021/es505376t. Epub 2014 Dec 23.

Uncertainty in regional-average petroleum GHG intensities: countering information gaps with targeted data gathering.

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Department of Energy Resources Engineering, Stanford University , Stanford, California 94305, United States.


Recent efforts to model crude oil production GHG emissions are challenged by a lack of data. Missing data can affect the accuracy of oil field carbon intensity (CI) estimates as well as the production-weighted CI of groups ("baskets") of crude oils. Here we use the OPGEE model to study the effect of incomplete information on the CI of crude baskets. We create two different 20 oil field baskets, one of which has typical emissions and one of which has elevated emissions. Dispersion of CI estimates is greatly reduced in baskets compared to single crudes (coefficient of variation = 0.2 for a typical basket when 50% of data is learned at random), and field-level inaccuracy (bias) is removed through compensating errors (bias of ∼ 5% in above case). If a basket has underlying characteristics significantly different than OPGEE defaults, systematic bias is introduced through use of defaults in place of missing data. Optimal data gathering strategies were found to focus on the largest 50% of fields, and on certain important parameters for each field. Users can avoid bias (reduced to <1 gCO2/MJ in our elevated emissions basket) through strategies that only require gathering ∼ 10-20% of input data.

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