Despite regulations, gas wells leak, especially as they get older

Despite regulations, gas wells leak, especially as they get older by Nick Teti, April 1, 2012, Coshocton Tribune
One in 20 wells will leak immediately, and the numbers rise dramatically as wells age, said Cornell University Professor Dr. Anthony Ingraffea. …  According to an article titled “Shale Gas — A business plan very much in the red,” by Professor Marc Durand, a geologist at the University of Quebec, all the hundreds of thousands of wells drilled in the North American Shale will deteriorate. They are lying in brine 70 times saltier than sea water that has been laced with a host of chemicals. Thousands of miles of horizontally drilled well casings and the surrounding cement are compromised by having been shot through with holes from the perforating gun used in the fracking process. Steel corrodes, cement shrinks and cracks: nothing lasts forever. The wells are designed for a working life of three to five years, the time it takes to harvest the gas while it flows at a fast enough rate to be profitable. Twenty to 50 years after they cease production, many of the wells will have eroded enough to provide a highway between the shale layer and the surface. Here’s the kicker: Fracking only gets the 20 percent of the gas that has seeped into the spaces that naturally occur in the shale. The remaining 80 percent is within the rock itself, and it will continue to slowly leach out into a shale formation that has been opened by fracking fluid, said Durand. What will be the effect of hundreds of thousands of deteriorating wells trickling methane and toxins into our air, land and water for thousands of years? The gas industry doesn’t ask this question because once it has the gas, it pumps some cement down the hole and it falls to the taxpayers to find the long-term answer. Durand makes the point that the costs to a community of dealing with methane migration over time will far exceed the income generated during the brief boom. [Emphasis added]

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