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CO2, Methane, and Brine Leakage Through Subsurface Pathways: Exploring Modeling, Measurement, and Policy Options

Subsurface pathways, such as abandoned oil and gas wells and faults, can serve as leakage pathways for CO2 , methane, brine, and other fluids. These pathways allow fluids from deep subsurface formations to migrate into shallow groundwater aquifers or to the atmosphere.
Between 200,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells in the state of Pennsylvania likely account for four to seven per cent of estimated man-made methane emissions in that jurisdiction. Methane leaks from plugged wells, which were properly sealed with cement at the time of their abandonment, were just as high as rates from unplugged wells. Obviously, cement seals in active and abandoned wells crack, shrink and fracture over time, allowing methane to leak and find the path of least resistance, such as natural fractures.

Bibliography:
Mary Kang
CO2, Methane, and Brine Leakage Through Subsurface Pathways: Exploring Modeling, Measurement, and Policy OptionsA Dissertation Presented to the Faculty of Princeton University in Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Princeton University, June 2014
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See also:
Andrew Nikiforuk, Abandoned Oil Wells Spouting Significant Levels of Methane: Study.
The Tyee, Jun 14, 2014
Bobby McGill, Thousands of fracking wells in Pennsylvania ‘may be leaking methane’. The Guardian, Jun 20, 2014

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