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Old drillings emit tons of methane in the North Sea

Somewhere between 3,000 and 17,000 tons of methane gas leak every year from abandoned wells in the North Sea, according to a new study. Large volumes escape into the atmosphere.

Photo: ROV KIEL6000, GEOMAR

Climate calculations from the North Sea might be far worse than first anticipated. A new study, published in Environmental Science and Technology, describes calculations showing that unused wells in the North Sea could leak between 3,000 and 17,000 tons of methane into the sea every year. These leaks are not monitored by any authorities or included in the climate calculations from any North Sea countries.

"We estimate that gas leakage around boreholes could constitute one of the main sources of methane in the North Sea," says Lisa Vielstädte from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research, the first author of the study.

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