Constraining well integrity and propensity for fugitive gas migration in surficial soils at onshore decommissioned oil and gas well sites in England

Paula Sofia Gonzalez Samano, Aaron Graham Cahill, Roger Timmis, Andreas Busch

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Abstract

Petroleum resource development generates a legacy of energy wells that must be decommissioned effectively as we transition towards NetZero. Unfortunately, some decommissioned wells (DWs) can suffer integrity failure resulting in release of fugitive natural gas into the surrounding soils and atmosphere. After decommissioning there are typically no ongoing assessments to confirm well integrity, meaning integrity status remains uncertain into the future. Furthermore, factors affecting fugitive natural gas migration in surficial soils around DWs are poorly recognized, inferring integrity assessment and monitoring strategies are lacking. To better understand the integrity status of DWs, identify soil properties controlling fugitive gas migration and help develop more effective monitoring and detection methodologies, we undertook field investigations at six DWs in England involving surficial CH4 measurements, sub-surface soil-gas and sediment sampling and dynamic flux-chamber measurements. We found no evidence of integrity failure at any site. However, the composition and structure of soils in which examined DWs are embedded suggest fugitive gas migration to surface may be severely limited; potentially mitigating methane emissions while making integrity assessment at the surface challenging. Overall, the integrity status of DWs in England is poorly constrained and we show surficial soil properties must be characterised and considered to effectively constrain the fate of fugitive gas and in order to design effective field assessment and monitoring methods.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103712
JournalInternational Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control
Volume119
Early online date4 Jun 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • Abandoned wells
  • Decommissioning
  • Environment
  • Fugitive gas
  • Gas migration
  • Greenhouse-gases
  • Methane
  • Well integrity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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