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Northeastern B.C. Gas Wells Report Less Than Half Their Methane Emissions

Gerry Dincher/Wikimedia Commons

Fugitive methane emissions from gas wells in northeastern B.C. are being under-reported by a factor of 2.5, with both active and inactive wells revealing significant leakage, according to new research by the David Suzuki Foundation and St. Francis Xavier University.

“Of the 178 sites investigated,” DSF reports, “on average 35% of inactive wells exhibit measurable and, in some cases, significant methane leakage,” while “more than 85% of actively producing gas wells vent methane gas directly into the environment daily.”

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That leakage is a severe problem, said DSF Science and Policy Director Ian Bruce, “especially as our governments consider expanding the export of fracked and natural gas via the LNG industry.”

And yet “industry pressure will result in watered-down regulations when we desperately need strong leadership and strict enforcement from our federal and provincial governments,” Bruce warned, echoing earlier warnings [2] by other Canadian climate hawks. “Given how large the industry’s methane pollution footprint is, action is needed more than ever.”

The study calls for regulations that require quarterly leak detection and repair, as well as transparent reporting of all emissions. It recommends that all infrastructure that currently vents gas be replaced “with non-emitting devices”, and that industry be required to “provide adequate resources for on-the-ground monitoring” and “prioritize hiring locally-affected First Nations to support independent monitoring”.

DSF also urges British Columbia to hold the industry financially accountable by applying its carbon tax to all methane emissions. That move, said lead researcher and DSF policy advisor John Werring, would end up “forcing them to pay for their massive contributions to [Canada’s] overall greenhouse gas emissions, or preventing them altogether.”