Direct measurements of methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania

  • 9 December 2014

New research supported by the Climate Program Office's Atmospheric Chemistry, Carbon Cycle, & Climate (AC4) program was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on Dec. 8, 2014. The paper, "Direct measurements of methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania," focuses on a previously unmeasured but suspected source of greenhouse gas emissions: abandoned oil and gas wells.

Recent studies indicate that greenhouse gas emission inventories are likely missing methane emission sources. The scientists here conducted the first methane emission measurements from abandoned oil and gas wells and found substantial emissions, particularly from high-emitting abandoned wells. 


Researchers scaled methane emissions from their direct measurements of abandoned wells in Pennsylvania and calculate that they represent 4–7% of current total anthropogenic methane emissions in Pennsylvania. Millions of abandoned wells exist across  the country and some are likely to be high emitters.

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