SEPA investigating gas leaks from ‘fracking company’ wells

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  Questions have once again been raised over unconventional gas company Dart Energy’s operations in Scotland after the Sunday Herald reported that the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, SEPA, is investigating reports of methane gas leaking from Dart’s wells at Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway.

Dart Energy took over Greenpark Energy in April 2012 and in doing so acquired the exploration and pilot wells which Greenpark Energy sunk at the Canonbie prospect in 2007 and 2008.

Greenpark also had permission to frack at the site but Dart Energy have strongly denied that they have any intention of using the controversial technique anywhere in Scotland.

Commenting a SEPA spokesman said:

“SEPA has recently become aware of information regarding the potential release of coal-bed methane wells in the Canonbie area.

“SEPA will shortly be carrying out investigations into this.”

Commenting on the SEPA investigation, Campaigns Co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth Scotland, Mary Church said

“If it turns out that methane gas is leaking from wells at Dart’s Canonbie project, then this is yet another nail in the coffin for the company’s coalbed methane plans in Scotland.

“Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that not only poses explosion and health risks, but also adds to the challenge of meeting our climate targets. We can’t afford to go down the route of risky unconventional gas and we don’t need too given Scotland’s abundant renewable energy potential. Scotland should ban coalbed methane and fracking projects.

“If SEPA’s investigation demonstrates the gas leak is linked to coalbed methane drilling, it will add to a catalogue of alarming leakage from unconventional gas fields in Australia and the USA.”

A spokesman for Dart Energy refuted the claims saying:

“We strongly deny that we have well integrity issues with any of our wells, nor is there danger of leaking natural gas.”

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and there have been calls in the USA, where the unconventional gas industry is more established than it is here, for leaks to be more closely monitored. EPA, the USA’s environment agency estimates that leakage is around 2.4%. This figure is however, based on a number of assumptions rather than direct measurement.

The World Resources Institute has recently published a large scale study of methane leakage which recommends that EPA develop much more comprehensive measurements of actual leakage.