Jump to content

Gulf Awash in 27, 000 Abandoned Wells


ShyWriter
 Share

Recommended Posts

Gulf Awash in 27, 000 Abandoned Wells

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: July 7, 2010

Filed at 12:46 a.m. ET

More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades. No one -- not industry, not government -- is checking to see if they are leaking, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing.

The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells -- those characterized in federal government records as ''temporarily abandoned.''

Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s -- even though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.

As a forceful reminder of the potential harm, the well beneath BP's Deepwater Horizon rig was being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment when it blew April 20, leading to one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation's history. BP alone has abandoned about 600 wells in the Gulf, according to government data.

There's ample reason for worry about all permanently and temporarily abandoned wells -- history shows that at least on land, they often leak. Wells are sealed underwater much as they are on land. And wells on land and in water face similar risk of failure. Plus, records reviewed by the AP show that some offshore wells have failed.

Asked in multiple requests over several weeks how often abandoned wells have failed, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Tuesday -- as this story was being released -- that it has had to deal with leaks at abandoned wells in shallow state waters of Louisiana and Texas. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement -- which oversees wells in federal waters -- also acknowledged Tuesday that it has dealt with ''a few'' failed abandoned wells farther out in the Gulf. But the information was released only through the public affairs offices and neither agency provided experts for follow-up.

( Story continued on the New York Times )

~Shy

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
Back to top
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

This site uses cookies - We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.