A new study highlights the environmental hazard of wells that are excavated to obtain natural gas, which are very often overshadowed, in terms of environmental damage, compared to oil wells.
According to research conducted by scientists led by Mark Zondlo, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Princeton University, the wells used to extract natural gas from the subsoil lose massive amounts of methane. Methane gas is a known and powerful greenhouse gas. The researchers came to this conclusion by studying the emissions of natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale area, a basin that goes from West Virginia to the state of New York on the Atlantic coast.
In the study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, scientists say that “10% of the wells represent over three-quarters of gas leaked into the atmosphere as a by-product of extraction.” This is the same effect, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, of what can be had with an average use of 500,000 cars, or 2% of the entire American automobile fleet, which therefore makes us think.
Gas leaks in the air can result from various factors, such as valves opening involuntarily or intentionally to relieve the well pressure. And given that natural gas is mainly composed of methane, one of the most powerful known greenhouse gases, even a minimal loss represents serious damage if it has continued over time. And this without calculating that a loss of methane still represents an economic loss as a completely wasted natural gas.