CASPER, Wyo. —University of Wyoming “Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute” (EORI) research has found that abandoned and unplugged oil and gas wells in Wyoming “are likely responsible for less than 1 percent of reported methane emissions from the state’s oil and gas operations,” UW said in an April 9 release.
“Sampling conducted at 10 such ‘orphan’ wells in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin showed emission of minute amounts of methane, averaging 651 milligrams per hour,” UW said of the research. “By comparison, the average dairy cow emits 11,900 milligrams per hour.”
“Based upon that data and other considerations, the researchers calculated that the approximately 1,900 abandoned and unplugged wells in the state emit a total of 3.83 metric tons of methane per year. That’s less than 1 percent of reported methane emissions from all Wyoming oil and gas operations in the most recent National Emissions Inventory conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency.”
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UW said that the researchers did not consider the 18,000 plugged well in the state in their study.
“EORI’s study, results of which may be found here, was conducted by Jeffrey Nivitanont, Dana Caulton, Shane Murphy and Matt Burkhart, of UW’s Department of Atmospheric Science, along with EORI researchers Eric Robertson and Graeme Finley,” UW said.
UW says that because methane has a higher potential to impact global warming than carbon dioxide, the issue of methane emissions from abandoned wells “has gained prominence in recent years.”
“‘Fugitive’ methane emissions are a byproduct of normal oil and gas production, but wells can emit methane after production ends,” UW said. “When oil and gas companies retire wells, they typically include proper abatement procedures to prevent further emissions. However, with the boom and bust of the oil and gas industry in the past decade, an increase in bankruptcy filings by companies has resulted in a rise in orphan wells.”
This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.