Could old oil wells threaten new carbon storage wells?


After more than a century of oil and gas companies pumping carbon out of Louisiana, officials have ambitious plans to essentially do the opposite—inject carbon back into the ground to help curb climate change, Verite reports.

But many of the new wells will sit near the old ones, raising concerns that harmful levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and tainted well water may escape from the increasingly porous ground. CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas that displaces air and can make breathing difficult. At high concentrations, it can cause suffocation.

“It’s not a question of whether these things are going to leak,” says Abel Russ, an attorney with the Environmental Integrity Project, a watchdog organization based in Washington, D.C. “It’s a question of how much is acceptable and how much is going to be happening.”

Louisiana has the highest number of planned carbon storage wells in the country—about one-third of the nearly 200 wells undergoing permit approval across the country would be located in the Bayou State, according to a Verite analysis.

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