Up to 900,000 Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Pollute Pennsylvania’s Air

by Duane Nichols on June 22, 2014

Abandoned Wells Often Not Obvious

Princeton University Study: Up to 900,000 Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Pollute Pennsylvania’s Air

From an Article by Brandon Baker, EcoWatch.com, June 19, 2014

Pennsylvania already has a fracking problem groups struggle to inspire politicians to address. Now, a Princeton University study shows that hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil wells are adding to the state’s pollution.

CO2, Methane, and Brine Leakage through Subsurface Pathways: Exploring Modeling, Measurement and Policy Options is a first-of-its-kind study from Mary Kang that describes how abandoned oil wells serve as leakage pathways for carbon dioxide, methane, brine and more.

Based on records, Kang estimates that between 280,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells account for 4 to 13 percent of the PA state’s methane emissions.

Three of the 19 wells measured by the team are considered high emitters. Leakage was found in both plugged and unplugged wells.

“Existing well abandonment regulations in Pennsylvania do not appear to be effective in controlling methane emissions from AOG [abandoned oil and gas] wells,” Kang writes in her abstract.

“As a mitigation strategy, inclusion of gases emitted from AOG wells in Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard may be valuable for both promoting capture and possible use of the gas as well as for reporting and monitoring of these wells.”

[P.S.  There are over 50,000 wells in West Virginia, a number well beyond the capability of the WV-DEP to inspect, monitor, or regulate in an environmentally satisfactory manner. The WV Legislature has been unable to improve the State law for oil and gas wells because of the strong industry lobby and lack of leadership from the Governor.  Federal regulations have similarly been constrained by the strong industry lobby and existing loopholes.  Concerned citizens must speak up and be heard in Charleston, Harrisburg, and in Washington, DC.]

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

S. Thomas Bond June 22, 2014 at 9:16 pm

That’s one heck of a situation in Pennsylvania. I’m afraid the legislature will say, “There isn’t anything we can do about it now.”

That has been the response to effects of coal mining. A similar study in West Virginia would doubtless show the same thing here, and my observation is that you can smell your way along many old gas installations, too.

It goes to support my long standing complaint that the extraction industries have externalized costs all through history, to get energy. We really need clean energy in the very near future. Unfortunately the bears in the hydrocarbon burning industry are still very strong.


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