PA DEP Report – Virtually No Methane Migration from Shale Wells

The Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) released the results of it’s industry-leading program to monitor oil and gas wells for methane (and oil and brine) migration–that is, for anything would impact groundwater. The Mechanical Integrity Assessment Program, as it’s called, is “the most rigorous routine well integrity assessment program to protect groundwater in the United States,” requiring quarterly inspections by operators of their wells. The DEP is in the process of releasing the results of those reports for the past four years–from 2014-2017. They’ve just released results for 2014 (full copy below). What did the DEP find? “[L]ess than 1 percent of operator observations indicated the types of integrity problems, such as gas outside surface casing, that could allow gas to move beyond the well footprint.” In other words, there is virtually no methane migration happening from shale (and conventional) natural gas wells because of good well casings and regular checks. It is hard to overstate how important these findings are. The DEP’s own evidence disproves wild claims that methane is migrating from shale wells everywhere, claims made by anti-fossil fuel radicals and a colluding media (see examples from StateImpact Pennsylvania). Below is the good news that there is virtually no methane migration happening in PA from Marcellus Shale wells…

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