Millions of abandoned oil wells in the U.S. are leaking methane

Discussion in 'Environmental Discussion' started by Tideland Prius, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Millions of abandoned oil wells in the U.S. are leaking methane | Autoblog
     
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  2. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    US leaks estimated there as 281 kilotons methane per year, Autoblog says EPA says it could be 3 times higher. While not trying to minimize those numbers, I note they are less than 1% of global anthropogenic methane release.

    Methane leaks at almost every step of fossil hydrocarbon collection and transfer. I consider it incompletely 'costed' into hydrocarbon use overall. Other recent studies, some mentioned around here, show it is not terribly expensive to count it better. Costing it better requires political will for lack of a better term.

    Connected issues of hydrogen sulfide and groundwater quality are harder to get a broad handle on. I'm personally fascinated by loss of helium from wells, which occurs whether they are in production or leakily capped. Only where it is intentionally captured is it not lost. It may be 0.1% of the gas phase. Future helium may be priced at much more than $5 per liter. If so, folks might wish to have captured more of the loss.
     
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk Senior Member

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    Would the helium end up at the atmosphere's "ceiling", with some detrimental effect? Or it's a drop in the bucket?
     
  4. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    Helium once it "escapes" is essentially impossible to capture economically. And eventually it does get sucked into space. More like it floats above the atmospheric protection to where it gets left behind as the Earth hurdles towards its eventual black hole doom.

    I am always so saddened by the release of helium everywhere. We are using it as party decorations.
     
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  5. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    Aren't they still dumping that national stockpile, through the helium privatization act or whatever?
     
  6. iplug

    iplug Senior Member

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    Thanks for posting. Important topic that has not received much coverage. The U.S. is an important part of the problem, but kudos to them and Canada for capturing and reporting this data as it is. Need several important other heavy weight countries to join and much progress all around must still be made.

    As the article notes:

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year recommended that U.N. member countries start tracking and publishing the amount of methane leaching from their abandoned oil and gas wells after scientists started flagging it as a global warming risk. So far, the United States and Canada are the only nations to do so.

    ...The governments of Russia, Saudi Arabia, and China — which round out the top five world oil-and-gas producers — did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on their abandoned wells and have not published reports on the wells’ methane leakage.
     
  7. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    OIL is leaking out too......and contaminating underground water supplies.

    But the industry doesn't care.......and our current Government doesn't care either.

    The love of money is the root of all evil.
     
  8. ETC(SS)

    ETC(SS) The OTHER One Percenter.....

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    Millions?
    That sounds like......a lot.
     
  9. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    Not really. Every Jed Clampett out there that poked a hole in the ground and left it, adds up. Only recently have they been forced to cap certain wells after exploration or use and when those fail they rarely get checked. A lot of honour system going on.
     
  10. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    Without much actual honor.
     
  11. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Methane - What a shame. A perfectly good fossil-fuel, yet the industry doesn't seem to even want to address its potential very much.
    .
     
  12. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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  13. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    It effectively "evaporates" off the top of the atmosphere, into space.

    All gases do this, but the lighter ones (especially hydrogen atoms, from UV-split hydrogen and water molecules) go the fastest. The escape rate is a strong function of local gravity, temperature, and atomic or molecular mass of the gas:
    [​IMG]


    There are actually several escape mechanisms:
    Atmospheric escape - Wikipedia
     
    #13 fuzzy1, Jul 25, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
  14. tochatihu

    tochatihu Senior Member

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    Woe unto me for no longer having access to wiki. But big Earth earthquakes puff out outer-atmosphere stuff, high and solar activity does a take away thing.
     
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  15. KennyGS

    KennyGS Senior Member

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  16. bwilson4web

    bwilson4web BMW i3 and Model 3

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    And in some areas, the helium and possibly other noble gas losses.

    Bob Wilson
     
  17. sam spade 2

    sam spade 2 Senior Member

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    What ARE you talking about ??
    Methane IS natural gas.
    Which has recently replaced something like 70% of the coal usage and some of the oil too.
     
  18. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    He is talking about the HUGE amount of it that escapes to the atmosphere, naturally and artificially, without being burned as fuel. It has enormous climate change impact, far more so than the exhaust CO2 from burning it.
     
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  19. egg_salad

    egg_salad Active Member

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    My butt also leaks methane into the environment :)
     
  20. KennyGS

    KennyGS Senior Member

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    May want to lay off the egg salad for a while...
     
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