August 11, 2013

Natural Gas - Bridge or Gangplank?

Satellite view of gas wells dotting Utah’s Uinta Basin (via CIRES)
A NY Times op-ed written by Cornell civil engineering professor highlights the problem of methane leaks from natural gas wells. 

Industry studies show that 5% of all new well casings fail and leak methane immediately upon completion and those rates increase dramatically as the wells get older with 50% of all well casings failed and leaking after 35 years again according to industry studies. 

A new report has found 6.2% to 11.7% methane leakage from a Utah natural gas drilling site. Natural gas drilling and extraction with those leakage rates means that natural gas is far worse than coal for GHG emissions.

A Boston Globe article highlights the work done by Boston University professor Nathan Phillips, that the leaks that are occurring in our local pipelines here in the Boston area can also have a significant effect on climate change.

Natural gas is worse for the climate than coal if we don't fix these leaks. [Boston Globe]

Upper panel: Yellow light shafts showing 3,300-plus natural gas leaks
with methane concentration (ppm) along Boston’s 785 miles of road, in red.
Lower panel: Leaks around Beacon Hill and the Massachusetts statehouse
with methane concentration (ppm). Images courtesy of Nathan Phillips

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