Eliminating Methane Emissions From Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

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OPEN 2021
Littleton, Colorado
Project Term:
04/08/2022 - 04/07/2025

Critical Need:

Methane, a greenhouse gas, has 86 times greater impact on global warming than carbon dioxide (CO2) over 20 years. Methane emissions from abandoned wells contribute 404,000 metric tons of methane per year, which is equivalent to 24 million metric tons of CO2, which is more than the CO2 generated from all the power plants in New York State each year. Normally, several cement plugs are set in a well to prevent leakage. Cement has several downsides, including releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere during its production and being a poor barrier to migrating gas.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Foro Energy will use a downhole, high-power laser access tool to create geometric and surface area access in wells to set an alternative barrier material—a bismuth alloy plug (BiSN)—instead of cement. The proposed technology will be cost effective and reduce methane emissions as well as some CO2 by (1) abating oil and gas wells currently leaking methane, (2) providing more effective sealing for wells that will be abandoned in the future, (3) replacing the current use of cement and thereby eliminating greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere during production, and (4) using surface equipment with a reduced emissions footprint (e.g., eliminating a rig).

Potential Impact:

Foro Energy proposes to design, build, and demonstrate in the field a transformational platform that will significantly reduce and prevent methane emissions by more effectively and efficiently plugging leaking abandoned oil and gas wells.


It will cost the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars to retire and seal abandoned wells. The proposed technology will provide an efficient and cost-effective solution to this problem.


The proposed technology will mitigate methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas wells. 


Foro’s downhole tool technology and BiSN’s plug will save 35% over conventional methods to plug wells.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Olga Spahn
Project Contact:
Mr. Scott Marshall
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Project Contact Email:

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