Methane Emissions from Abandoned Conventional Oil Wells in Ohio's Wayne National Forest

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Jacob Hoschouer Amy Townsend-Small


By Jacob Hoschouer, Environmental Studies

Advisor: Amy Townsend-Small

Presentation ID: AM_ATRIUM07

Abstract: Abandoned conventional oil wells (ACOWs) are a possible source of fugitive methane (CH4) and volatile organic carbon (VOC) emissions due to leaks in their infrastructure. CH4 has a greater global warming potential when compared to carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. Previous work has shown that unplugged wells in the Appalachian basin are likely the largest emitters in the United States among this source, as this is the oldest oil and gas drilling region on Earth. There are an unknown number of ACOWs in eastern Ohio. Our study area encompassed the Athens, Ironton and Marietta sections of the Wayne National Forest. These ACOWs drill dates range from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, provided that the information is listed in the well permits. Some wells were made with wooden well casings while others had broken well casing infrastructure. To find natural gas (NG) leaks, abandoned wells were screened using a Gas Rover around the well casings, fittings or valves. CH4 fluxes were measured using a Hi-Flow Sampler and VOC fluxes were calculated using canister samples taken from the outlet of the Hi-Flow Sampler. We found emission rates of all gases followed a skewed distribution where a few sites were responsible for most of the emissions. We also conducted follow-up testing over two years on one well which was previously measured and found to be the highest emitting abandoned well in the United States.

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AM Poster Session -- Atrium -- Sustainability & Biodiversity