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Friday, August 17, 2012

Orphaned/Abandoned Wells Pose Challenge, Risk

Orphaned/Abandoned Wells Pose Challenge, Risk

abandonedwellA Water Quality Work Group that gathers regularly in Potter County to coordinate many efforts geared toward protection of the county’s water resources focused in on the many dozen of abandoned and orphaned gas and oil wells in the county – many of them uncharted. These wells, many of which were drilled more than a half-century ago, have been described as “ticking time bombs.” As their casing corrodes and as nearby drilling activity picks up, they have the potential to pose serious pollution risks unless they are located and retired.

 However, finding them is a big challenge and capping/retiring them could cost upwards of $250,000 each. The state has established a fund to pay for capping of abandoned and orphaned wells, but the demand for funds far exceeds the available money. Energy companies looking to drill into nearby acreage to tap shale gas have been retiring abandoned wells to protect their own assets. Work group members decided to confer with local watershed protection organizations and the Triple Divide Watershed Coalition to determine how they might work together to establish a better inventory of the abandoned and orphaned wells.

Members also discussed the shortcomings of state regulatory policies covering private water sources. Pennsylvania is one of just two states that have no standards for water well construction. Public education is the key to that issue and many others involving water quality, members agreed. They discussed the possibility of scheduling a “WaterBlitz” next spring, patterned after the successful “BioBlitz” held at the Austin Dam Memorial Park in 2009.

6 comments :

Anonymous said...

Abandoned Wells are myths invented by democrats

Anonymous said...

im guessing you are just trying to get a good conversation started here, but if that is what you truely think, come to my property, ill lower you down for an inspection, and then,,,,,,,,,,,come back and let me know.

Anonymous said...

Thank you to SOMEBODY for drawing attention to this 800-pound gorilla who has parked his arse in our collective living room and has assumed we were just ignoring his presence. It's about time! Ostriches bury their heads in the sand but I thought we humans had a little more on the ball than that.

Anonymous said...

I'm really happy to hear that the water quality work group has shown an interest in the abandoned wells.

Potter County's abandoned wells are ridiculously underestimated.
Potter has thousands of lost, orphan and abandoned oil and gas wells...not "many dozens."
They are scattered throughout the county.
Some unplugged wells are located near public water sources, in streams, others near active well sites.

Re: "Energy companies looking to drill into nearby acreage to tap shale gas have been retiring abandoned wells to protect their own assets"
Operators are allowed to drill and frack in the vicinity of unplugged wells and they do.Taking place in accordance with current regulations.
Operators plug the wells that they are REQUIRED TO PLUG.
The required setback/ distance from active wellsites is a ridicules Effing joke.

The only way to prevent drilling and fracking from continuing to take place in areas that are known to have unplugged wells is to change the regulations or ban fracking.

Re: “capping/retiring them could cost upwards of $250,000 each.” … A single Well in Pennsylvania has cost over 3 million to plug.

The good news is; Abandonment laws have changed, the DEP's risk of inheriting abandoned wells is much lower.
Currently lease holders can be held responsible for plugging while operators are at risk of losing their ridiculously low plugging bond.

Anonymous said...

To the "expert" at 11:50, you sound like a person whose reporting of "facts" is tainted just a wee bit by personal opinion or even bias. That doesn't help your cause, which is a worthy one.
The report of $250,000 appears to reasonably represent the average cost. You imply the well that cost $3 million to plug is typical.
You state definitively of "thousands" of abandoned gas wells. As the Weekend Update guy on Saturday Night Live would say, "Really?!?!?" To prove your point why don't you take a Potter County map and put 2,000 dots (at a minimum) on it showing, in your infinite wisdom and exhaustive research, where these "thousands" are. (Also, there are "many dozens" in thousands I believe.)
The report that there are many dozens suggests to me that there are a lot of them but they are not as well-documented in any public records as the expert comment writer on here will be providing with the 2,000 or more verified wells. Not doubting your facts; just asking for proof. Please send your map to Jim as a PDF and I bet he'll show it.
My husband has a saying that I always bear in mind when I read comments like yours. It starts with "figures don't lie ..."
Your cause seems worthy enough. I also like the comment about the 800 pound gorilla. This seems like a really big problem and, like you, I am pleased to see that it is getting some attention.
But please, oh please, for the sake of such a good cause, stick to the facts and don't exhibit your lack of objectivity so openly on a public forum.
Other than that, I enjoyed your post. I'm probably as worried, or more worried, than you are. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I dont know what you all are worried about. Shell and DEP told us it was all safe, there is nothing to be afraid of. Sign here....