Integrity failures at oil and gas wells are a common but poorly constrained source of methane emissions. As of 2014, Pennsylvania requires operators of oil and gas wells to report gas losses, both fugitive and process, from all active and unplugged abandoned wells. In this study, we analyze 589,175 operator reports.
We find that lower-bound reported annual methane emissions averaged 22.1 Gg (−16.9, +19.5) between 2014 and 2018 from 62,483 wells, an average of only 47% of the statewide well inventory for those years. Extrapolating to the 2019 oil and gas well inventory yields well average emissions of 55.6 Gg CH4. These emissions are not currently included in the state’s oil and gas emission inventory.
We assess compliance in reporting among operators and note anomalies in reporting and apparent workarounds to reduce reported emissions. Suggestions for improving the accuracy and reliability in reporting and reducing emissions are offered.