Kara Bressler, 2019, Computer Science

Natural gas has been promoted as a cleaner alternative to coal. However, methane leakage from the oil and gas supply chain may undermine this fuel’s relative climate advantages and more studies are needed to evaluate the extent of the problem. This summer, I worked with a research team measuring and analyzing methane leakage from oil and gas wells in West Virginia. This work was done in comparison to past measurement in Pennsylvania. While in the field, my colleagues and I collected methane samples, later analyzing the samples using a gas chromatograph. As an independent project, I collected data on oil and gas infrastructure, including locations of pipelines and pipeline junctions, by walking lines and mapping locations of leaks. I then worked to determine the number of pipeline leaks per unit length of piping in West Virginia and created a visual map of the organization of gathering pipeline (pipeline connecting wellheads to larger transmission piping). I am currently co-writing a paper with my research team using the data we collected this summer.