ReFINE methane emissions study


The Onshore Energy Services Group has responded to the report published earlier this week by ReFINE, which examined methane emissions at decommissioned onshore gas wells, saying the report is further evidence that the UK onshore petroleum industry is safe.


Simon Talbot, a founder member of the Onshore Energy Services Group and managing director of Ground-Gas Solutions, says the results are welcomed as they demonstrate that the UK industry is operated to a high standard, with well sites returned to an agricultural land use with no lasting impact.

“The results indicate that 70% of sites studied showed no evidence of methane emissions in the soil above decommissioned wells. Of the 30% that were found to have methane concentrations higher than neighbouring ‘control’ fields, these were generally at concentrations close to naturally occurring background levels and are considered negligible.”

Opponents of shale gas extraction in the UK have seized on the ReFINE report as evidence of leaking wells and associated fugitive methane emissions. Doug Parr, Chief Scientist at Greenpeace, told the BBC the findings are a worry given the levels of methane leakage uncovered in the study.

“If even an industry-funded study suggests that 30% of conventional wells appear to be leaking, it raises serious questions over the long-term impact of the extensive development of unconventional gas in the UK which is clearly the government’s plan,” he said.

But Simon Talbot disagrees.

“Such statements are misrepresenting the science. The clearest conclusion from the ReFINE report is that UK wells are generally decommissioned to a high standard that limits any fugitive methane emissions to levels consistent with background concentrations.”