New algorithm cuts cost, pollution during gas extraction

New York, June 5 (IANS) While extracting natural gas, minimising the environmental consequences above-ground is now possible at a reasonable expense by a newly found algorithm, scientists have said.

Extracting gas from shale rock causes environmental disturbances below and above the ground in the form of fragile habitats, eroding soil and degrading freshwater systems.

Environmental consequences above the ground are possible to minimise but at a cost to the developers.

A study, which appeared in Conservation Biology, found that on average, for a 20 percent increase in costs, developers could reduce surface-level environmental impacts by more than a third with a new algorithm to plan the construction of well pads, access roads and pipelines.

The algorithm in the study plans infrastructure much the way developers do, adhering to regulations and developer practices keeping in mind the environment as a primary goal.

While the study found that developers could reduce environmental impacts at a relatively small cost, the results were dependent on the attributes of the site. Some impacts were easier and therefore less costly to avoid than others.

“The types of impacts and developers’ ability to avoid them changes from site to site and this means forcing all developers to adhere to a uniform standard like we see in many places today could be unnecessarily restrictive,” said the study’s lead author Austin Milt.

“Other, more flexible alternatives exist that could reduce environmental impacts across developers for the same or less cost,” Milt added.



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