Field assistant Makz Werring places an inflatable balloon on the vent pipe of a well suspended in 2010l to measure the flow of gas. Pressure and volume of methane being vented is enough to quickly inflate the condom
Photo Credit: John Werring

New study finds much higher methane release from oil and gas fracking

The environmental “footprint” of fracking and the oil and gas industry is about to change dramatically, and not for the better.

A new study by the environmental group David Suzuki Foundation and St Francis Xavier University, shows about 50 percent of wells are either leaking or deliberately venting, methane which is an extremely potent greenhouse gas.

Ian Bruce is the Director of Science and Policy at the David Suzuki Foundation, a non-profit environmental and conservation group.

Listen
Ian Bruce, Director of Science and Policy, David Suzuki Foundation ©  DSF

A study of a variety of about 1600 oil and fracked gas sites in north-eastern British Columbia says methane emissions are two-and-a half times greater than what the industry has been estimating and reporting.

The study was published in the science journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physic under the title, “Mobile measurement of methane emissions from natural gas developments in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada”  (HERE)

This research is the first ground-based measurement of methane emissions ever conducted in Canada. Scientists travelled more than 8,000 kilometres using vehicle-mounted gas-detection instruments (a sniffer truck), covering more than 1,600 well pads and facilities in B.C.’s Montney formation

Active oil well that appears to have suffered a blow out. The ground around the wellhead is soaked with oil and wellhead and attached pipes are wrapped in plastic sheathing
Active oil well that appears to have suffered a blow out. The ground around the wellhead is soaked with oil and wellhead and attached pipes are wrapped in plastic sheathing © John Werring

Equivalent to 4.5 million tonnes of coal, or two million more cars

The fact that the methane emissions are so much higher than currently reported is important as methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

According to the Suzuki Foundation, the study shows that B.C.’s Montney region alone leaks more than 111,800 tonnes of methane into the air every year. This is the climate pollution equivalent of burning more than 4.5 million tonnes of coal or putting more than two million cars on the road.

Montney formation oil and gas field in Alberta and northeastern British Columbia © 7genergy.com

The group Environmental Defence also released a report this week showing that Alberta’s methane emissions are also much higher than is being reported.

Bruce says that based on the new standard of a 20-year time frame, methane is some 84 times more potent than C02.

Using the latest technology the researchers visited a variety of wells, either still operating, suspended, or capped and abandoned.

Bruce says in some cases they detected leaks, while in others there was simply venting of methane.Easy fix-the technology exists

While he says this is a very significant source of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, the technology already exists to vastly reduce these types of emissions.

Some of the vehicle-based detection and analysis equipment used to measure methane leakage from a variety of oil and gas sites. © David Risk (PhD) Flux Lab,, St Francis Xavier University

What’s lacking is regulation and inspection.

He says he hopes this report will spur governments at both the federal and provincial levels, to see the gravity of the situation and quickly act to create and enforce stricter rules.

David Suzuki Foundation- website-press release

DAVID SUZUKI FOUNDATION video

Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Economy, Environment, International, Science and Technology, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*