New Research Helps Locate Abandoned O&G Wells in PA

pnasIn March we highlighted the issue of abandoned oil and natural gas wells in Pennsylvania (see Who Pays for Abandoned O&G Wells in PA?). PA 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–the question is, how do you pay for it? The shale industry says it’s not fair to put the economic burden solely on the shoulders of the Marcellus industry. A new study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) by researchers at Stanford and Princeton says the number of abandoned PA wells is actually much higher–as many as 700,000! The paper is titled “Identification and characterization of high methane-emitting abandoned oil and gas wells” (full copy below). The researchers are motivated by global warming flummery–desiring to locate abandoned wells which emit varying amounts of methane into the atmosphere. Whatever. The useful thing about this research is that they have discovered a way of sniffing out abandoned wells and determining which ones are emitting the highest levels of methane. Our interest is in the ability to locate, map and avoid drilling through old wells–we welcome this research…

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