Old Conventional Wells in PA Causing Problems for New Shale Wells

Lost BoysPennsylvania state officials estimate there are as many as 200,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the state–the vast majority of them conventional wells drilled over 50 years ago. Most of them are not mapped or known. Some of them are hazards for shale drillers who stumble across them when drilling new wells. If you drill horizontally and clip an old/abandoned well, it becomes like an elevator pumping fluids and gas to the surface. Not good. Everyone is committed to finding and marking and capping these old wells. In March, MDN highlighted the issue (see Who Pays for Abandoned O&G Wells in PA?). Now Bloomberg is shining a light on abandoned oil wells–across the country but particularly in PA. Bloomberg calls them “lost wells”–which makes us think of the Lost Boys in Peter Pan. But it’s no laughing matter. Abandoned wells are a nuisance at a minimum, and can be dangerous when drilling a shale well. The Bloomberg article says the PA Attorney General, Kathleen Kane (herself under indictment for felonies and in danger of being dragged out of office) is reviewing rules that will require shale drillers to document abandoned wells within 1,000 feet of new shale drill sites…

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