Out of use oil and gas wells have proved to be an important source of greenhouse gases and there are so many of them that are scattered here and there in different parts of United States, UK, Australia, etc. Ceasing the leaks from these well is a herculean task that costs huge amount for government. However, a simple solution to this was recently given by a team of scientists working from Stanford and Princeton universities; they identified particular attributes of these wells giving governments a chance to schedule and prioritize the repair tasks. According to researchers, a large part of these emissions can be eliminated which will eventually minimize the costs leaving behind non-hazardous environmental friendly wells alone.
A professor of civil and environmental engineering and environmental studies at the Princeton University, Michael A. Celia, says, “The most effective focuses on the highest-emitting wells. Using our findings, states can apply their resources where it will make the greatest difference.” For this purpose, the team mainly focused on the wells that are located in western Pennsylvania, the area has one of the oldest histories of gas and oil operations in the United States. But they claim that their findings are applicable across all oil and gas well across the nation. The research also revealed that the number of wells that were tracked by the regulators is way lower than the actual number of abandoned wells; some of these even go back to the 18th century.
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, has registered some 31, 676 abandoned oil wells but the new research shows that the original number differs somewhere between 470, 000 – 750, 000 wells. A previous research conducted by Princeton University researchers also revealed that most of these abandoned wells are huge source of methane. The wells in Pennsylvania alone accounted for some 5 – 8 percent methane gas emission in state. But they also discovered that the number of wells emitting major part of this gas was very small. This fact inspired their latest research where the team set to find those particular features that made one specific well release more gas then several others. These wells account to be just 10 percent of total figure and takes responsibility for about 90 percent of emissions.
One of the lead authors of this paper, Mary Kang, likes to add, “We wanted to know that what caused the high emissions, and if the data could help prioritize wells for remediation. In addition to chemical markers, our samples and data base analysis showed that physical traits can tell a lot about the wells.”
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