Search form

Home > News > Abandoned Wells Can Be 'Super-Emitters' of Greenhouse Gas

Abandoned Wells Can Be 'Super-Emitters' of Greenhouse Gas

December 9th, 2014
Alana Miller (left), a Princeton senior majoring in civil and environmental engineering, and Mary Kang, then a doctoral researcher in civil and environmental engineering at Princeton, conduct research that found abandoned oil and gas wells emit methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Kang, now at Stanford University, is the lead author of a recent journal article describing the findings. (Photo courtesy of Robert Jackson, Stanford University)

Princeton University researchers have 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 researchers said their findings identify a need to make measurements across a wide variety of regions in Pennsylvania but also in other states with a long history of oil and gas development such as California and Texas.

"The research indicates that this is a source of methane that should not be ignored," said Michael Celia, the Theodore Shelton Pitney Professor of Environmental Studies and professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton. "We need to determine how significant it is on a wider basis."

Read full story here.

© 2017 The Trustees of Princeton University. Back to Top
The Office of Undergraduate Research resides within the Office of the Dean of the College

Contact Us | Calendar | Website Feedback

Back to Top