Daniel Ma, 2017, Operations Research and Financial Engineering

Although methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas (AOG) wells constitute a significant percentage of total U.S. methane emissions, few attempts have been made to accurately quantify these emissions. Working with a team of other students, I took methane samples from AOG wells in western Pennsylvania. In order to accurately estimate methane emissions, we designed, constructed, and prepared containers to collect and store these gas samples. We also learned how to analyze gas samples via gas chromatography and how to quantify the methane emissions. As a side project, I examined scientific research and historical data in order to estimate the total number of AOG wells in Pennsylvania and the economic costs/benefits of various strategies for mitigating emissions. These estimates were necessary for accurately estimating statewide anthropogenic methane emissions and developing policy recommendations for mitigating AOG wells in Pennsylvania and the rest of the United States. This internship has strengthened my interest in sustainable energy and the economics of greenhouse gas mitigation. I will continue working on this project during the year and hope to pursue a similar topic for my independent work.