A Year of Passive Hydrocarbon Monitoring Next to an Eagle Ford Well Site
The recent boom in unconventional oil and gas development in the Texas Eagle Ford shale area has led to an increase in hydrocarbons in the atmosphere. Emissions from production sites include hazardous air pollutants, such as benzene, which is a known carcinogen. Since such pollutants are a potential threat to health and the environment at a local and regional level, it is important to look at near-site exposure levels, and how weather plays a role in the dispersion of hydrocarbons from their source in order to assess the emission’s effects on surrounding areas. For this purpose, passive hydrocarbon sampling devices (Radiello samplers) were stationed adjacent to an oil and gas production site with an occasional flare. These samplers were used to monitor emission exposure on a private property in the far eastern Eagle Ford. Selected hydrocarbons were analyzed using thermal desorption and gas chromatography with flame ionization detection. Hydrocarbon data was analyzed in conjunction with local weather data from a regional station to identify trends. The data shows that changes in benzene levels were correlated with changes in season. Wind patterns shift from a majority of southerly winds in the summer to northerly winds in the winter, and the oil and gas site is situated north of the private property being monitored. It can be suggested from this evidence that hydrocarbon emissions from the site have a greater impact on off-site exposure when winds from the site are flowing towards those living downwind.