The Gulf of Mexico is Awash in 27,000 Abandoned Wells

An example of an abandoned well.

An example of an abandoned oil well.

File this under: it could get much, much worse, or it’s so bad that we finally want to fix it, once and for all. Your thoughts are welcome. Jeff Donn and Mitch Weiss write in the AP via Google News:

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 — eveb 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.

Read More: AP via Google News

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  • grandma caesar

    “one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history”. yeah, like in “the top one”. it's blowin' and goin' right now, check the live feeds. if they try to cap it, it blows out thru the gulf floor. there are some things we can do to our planet that we can't fix.

  • http://www.atmcash.com Michelle

    The free market will take care of this, I'm sure. The coastal wetlands most willing to absorb that slowly leaking oil will surely take on that oil, with full knowledge of the upside and downside risks.

  • Radixoptimystic

    how is that possible?!

  • Ted Sumrall

    I would not list this as a primary concern. The fact that as much oil and gas was removed as possible prior to capping the well limits the amount which will escape. This plus the hydrostatic pressure of the ocean water would mitigate any leakage of “failing wells”. What is a bigger concern is the economic Armegeddon we face as a society because of our almost complete reliance on oil which I hope (someday soon) will be as impractical as whale oil.

  • Ted Sumrall

    I would not list this as a primary concern. The fact that as much oil and gas was removed as possible prior to capping the well limits the amount which will escape. This plus the hydrostatic pressure of the ocean water would mitigate any leakage of “failing wells”. What is a bigger concern is the economic Armegeddon we face as a society because of our almost complete reliance on oil which I hope (someday soon) will be as impractical as whale oil.