Abandoned Wells can be 'Super-Emitters' of Greenhouse Gas

Dec. 9, 2014

A team of Princeton University researchers, including Denise Mauzerall (AOS Associated Faculty) has uncovered a previously unknown, and possibly substantial, source of the greenhouse gas methane to the Earth's atmosphere. After testing a sample of abandoned oil and natural gas wells in northwestern Pennsylvania, the researchers found that many of the old wells leaked substantial quantities of methane. Because there are so many abandoned wells nationwide (a recent study from Stanford University concluded there were roughly 3 million abandoned wells in the United States) the researchers believe the overall contribution of leaking wells could be significant. The paper was published Dec. 8 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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