Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New study first to predict which oil and gas wells are leaking methane

21.12.2018

Each year brings new research showing that oil and natural gas wells leak significant amounts of the potent greenhouse gas methane.

A new study just published in the journal Environmental Geosciences is the first to offer a profile of which wells are the most likely culprits.


A new study to published in Environmental Geosciences is the first to offer a profile of which oil and natural wells are most likely to be leaking methane. Research published in June in Science estimated that natural gas wells are leaking 13 million metric tons of methane each year, 60 percent higher that EPA estimates.

Credit: Gerry Dincher

The research, conducted by George Pinder of the University of Vermont and James Montague, a former doctoral student at the university, is based on a study of 38,391 natural gas and oil wells in Alberta, Canada.

Companies in that province are required to test wells at the time they begin operating, to determine if they have failed and are leaking methane, and to keep careful records of each well's construction characteristics.

The study used a machine learning algorithm to correlate wells that leaked and those that didn't with a set of 16 characteristics.

The analysis yielded a cluster of traits that was predictive of whether a well would fail and leak, highlighted by three:

  • wells that deviated from a vertical drill line;
  • older wells, drilled before modern drilling practices were put in place; and
  • wells with greater circumferences, whose larger casings required larger volumes of cement that increased the likelihood of voids.

For a subset of 4,024 wells for which the algorithm had access to more complete information, including the fluid properties of the oil or natural gas being mined, the researchers were able to identify leaking wells with 87 percent accuracy.

For a larger sample of 28,534 wells, where the fluid property was not known and taken into account, 62 percent of leaking wells were identified accurately.

"The big picture," Pinder said of the study's findings, "is that we can now have tool that could help us much more efficiently identify leaking wells. Given that methane is such a significant contributor to global warming, this is powerful information that should be put to use."

"Provincial and state regulatory agencies never have enough inspectors or financial resources to locate, let alone repair, leaking wells," said A. R. Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Cornell and an expert in oil and natural gas well design and construction, who was not involved in the study.

"The methodology created by this research will be invaluable to those agencies because they can now focus inspections on wells most likely to be leaking now or to leak in the future."

The findings also shed light on how new wells should be designed and constructed to minimize the chance that they will leak, Pinder said.

About 12.5 percent of the wells in the Alberta database were leaking at the time they were to become operational. More research is needed to look at methane leaks over time as wells age, said Montague, the study's lead author.

"The failure rate is likely to underestimate the number of wells that will eventually fail and leak, given the clear possibility that they will degrade with age," he said.

Research published in June in Science estimated that natural gas wells are leaking 13 million metric tons of methane each year, 60 percent higher that EPA estimates, offsetting much of the climate benefits of burning natural gas instead of coal.

Methane is a highly potent greenhouse gas, with more than 90 times the climate warming impact of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released.

Under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed reducing the monitoring of oil and natural gas wells for methane leaks and has created a variety of exemptions for regulation.

Media Contact

Jeff Wakefield
jeffrey.wakefield@uvm.edu
802-578-8830

 @uvmvermont

http://www.uvm.edu 

Jeff Wakefield | EurekAlert!

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Deep Brain Stimulation Provides Sustained Relief for Severe Depression
19.03.2019 | Universitätsklinikum Freiburg

nachricht AI study of risk factors in type 1 diabetes
06.03.2019 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The taming of the light screw

DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.

The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...

Im Focus: Magnetic micro-boats

Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.

The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...

Im Focus: Self-healing coating made of corn starch makes small scratches disappear through heat

Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.

Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...

Im Focus: Stellar cartography

The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...

Im Focus: Heading towards a tsunami of light

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.

"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

International Modelica Conference with 330 visitors from 21 countries at OTH Regensburg

11.03.2019 | Event News

Selection Completed: 580 Young Scientists from 88 Countries at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

01.03.2019 | Event News

LightMAT 2019 – 3rd International Conference on Light Materials – Science and Technology

28.02.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack

22.03.2019 | Life Sciences

Open source software helps researchers extract key insights from huge sensor datasets

22.03.2019 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>