More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells waiting to leak in Gulf of Mexico

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13 Responses to “More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells waiting to leak in Gulf of Mexico”

  1. Burningsol says:

    …. hold on…. the room is spinning. You mean they aren’t giving a crap about the environment? WOW! Yeah.. could have guessed that one.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, this seems like a huge vulnerability in national security.

  3. anansi133 says:

    …and whoever bothers to check in on any of these wells is going to be charged with cleaning them up, so don’t count on a survey any time soon.

    It’s bad luck to look behind the refrigerator, it means you’re going to have to clean up behind there.

  4. sunnygarden says:

    It is unlikely that many would be leaking given that wells are only abandoned once reservoir pressure becomes insufficient to produce a well. And even after this, more oil is usually extracted using artificial drivers like gas re-injection, or gas lift. So at the point of abandonment it would take a pretty big change in reservoir conditions to cause a leak. In theory though I guess it is possible that some sort of geological change could cause this, and perhaps the seals could also lose integrity as they age, so it would probably be a good idea to have some sort of maintenance / checking program where abandoned wells are randomly inspected for leaks.

    • Anonymous says:

      Close, but not always the case. Operators abandon wells when they are no longer profitable. So, when a formation stops producing valuable oil or gas, the operator has the well plugged and leaves. Unfortunately, the field may still have plenty of pressure and plenty of non-valuable fluids remaining and thus a potential for leakage.

      The anonymous poster above is also partially correct. An ‘abandoned’ well is supposed to be properly plugged by filling it with concrete (its more complicated than that). However, these things are tough to regulate when pluggers are trying to eek out every penny when the inspection team isn’t looking.

    • Anonymous says:

      The article mentions that reservoirs can repressurize without any dramatic geological changes. I would guess that the pocket might be refilled by seepage from surrounding strata?

  5. robgotabingbang says:

    Oh yeah, this should end well. Nothing to see here, folks. Hey, how ’bout the Lebron James, huh?

  6. mdh says:

    where the Minerals Management Service regulates, there is strict supervision of the plugging process.

    i think we’ve all read all about that chapter in MMS history.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This statistic is meaningless! An abandoned well is one that has been permanently plugged with cement and fully sealed. Abandoned wells are not wells that the owner has “walked away from”. In some states, those are called orphan wells. On the Outer Continental Shelf, where the Minerals Management Service regulates, there is strict supervision of the plugging process. In shallower water, the states regulate the condition of wells. Again, the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama have very strict supervision of the abandonment process.

    In no way are those wells in danger of leaking. Pennsylvania is full of plugged and abandoned wells dating from the 1880s and there isn’t a huge outcry over environmental problems from old abandoned wells. They simply aren’t a problem.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Fascinating. If a well ruptures in Pennsylvania, what are the chances of the oil drifting to Kentucky, killing all the wildlife and destroying the economy in its path?

  8. abstract_reg says:

    On the other hand, if no one checks on them maybe we should take one over and use it to host extralegal websites, and pirate radio stations.

    • mdh says:

      wells, not platforms. The platforms move on once a well is proven insuffiecient to meet the investment in it (this is different from being proven non-productive)

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