Drones to locate and map abandoned wells in New York

19 February 2021

Drone technology is to be deployed in New York to locate aging and abandoned oil and gas wells that release fugitive emissions (methane) into the environment. Such abandoned wells reportedly release methane emissions due to cracks that develop thanks to fluctuating temperatures or pressures.

The joint initiative between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will see an investment of up to USD $400,000 (£299,739) in custom-built drone equipment and instrumentation that will be used to detect abandoned oil and gas wells primarily in Central and Western New York. It is estimated that thousands of such wells lie undetected, potentially emitting significant amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

Representing almost 10% of New York annual greenhouse gas emissions, methane reduction is a vital piece of the state’s policies to address the risks from climate change.