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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Abandoned Wells Leak Powerful Greenhouse Gas

Old oil and gas wells are adding methane to the atmosphere in Pennsylvania, spurring global warming

There are 300,000 to 500,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania, and some of them might be leaking significant quantities of the potent greenhouse gas methane, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
That abandoned wells may leak methane—which is 86 times as bad for the climate as CO2 on a 20-year time scale—has so far flown under the radar of regulators and industry. Emissions from such wells are not included in most government databases of the oil and gas sector.
"There definitely are leaky abandoned oil and gas wells out there, and we should really consider including them in greenhouse gas inventories," said Mary Kang, a researcher currently at Stanford University who did the study during graduate school at Princeton University.
Abandoned wells are ones that are no longer in production.
Doing a rough calculation, the researchers found that abandoned wells in Pennsylvania may have contributed 4 to 7 percent of the total man-made methane emissions from all sectors (agriculture, wastes, oil and gas, and others) in 2010...Read more