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Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Methane Emissions: Uncovering the Whole Picture

March 28, 2018

In mid-February, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released a study estimating that methane emissions from active Pennsylvania oil and gas wells were five times higher than previously estimated. This estimate came from analyzing the results of 16 peer-reviewed studies. About half of the estimated methane emissions came from conventional gas wells, which leak about 23% of their volume. While unconventional (fracked) gas wells leak a smaller percentage of their gas (about 3%), their higher overall gas volume makes the amount of gas released by each type of well roughly equal. EDF’s data included integral infrastructure such as compressors, produced water tanks, and flares. While the Pennsylvania DEP has released emissions regulations for new unconventional wells and related infrastructure, promised regulations for existing oil and gas infrastructure have not been released.