Abandoned oil and gas wells are contributing to climate change

Abandoned oil and gas wells can contribute to climate change. When abandoned and left unplugged, wells can emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Methane is estimated to have a global warming potential over 80 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame.

Abandoned oil and gas wells can emit methane in a number of ways. For example, methane can migrate through the wellbore and escape into the atmosphere, or it can leak from the surface equipment and infrastructure associated with the well. In some cases, methane can be generated by microorganisms in the subsurface that break down organic matter in the wellbore.

The exact amount of methane emitted from abandoned oil and gas wells is difficult to estimate, as it depends on a number of factors, such as the age and condition of the wells, the type of reservoir, and the depth of the wells. Studies, however, suggest that abandoned oil and gas wells are a significant source of methane emissions, particularly in areas with a high density of wells.

Proper plugging and MONITORING of abandoned oil and gas wells is important in reducing methane emissions from leaking old wells and mitigating their contribution to climate change.

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