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A recent study by Cornell University has found that newer and unconventional natural gas wells leak methane at a greater rate than older and traditional ones. The study was based on inspections of more than 75,000 wells in Pennsylvania over the past 14 years.
The inspection reports indicate that leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation. The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the study on June 30.
The report indicates that older wells (those drilled before the 2009 fracking boom) leaked at a rate near 1%. Newer wells (those drilled after 2009) had a leak rate of about 2%. Unconventional wells had a failure rate of about 6%. Moreover, the leak rate was nearly 10% for horizontal wells drilled before 2010.
The study states:
About 40 percent of the oil and gas wells in parts of the Marcellus shale region will probably be leaking methane into the groundwater or into the atmosphere…. This study shows up to a 2.7-fold higher risk for unconventional wells — relative to conventional wells — drilled since 2009.
The researchers indicated that they did not know the size of the leaks and did not know the causes, although they did speculate that it could be because corners are being cut as fracking booms.
To read Cliff Weathers’ complete article in Alternet, click here.