27,000 Abandoned Oils Wells In Gulf Of Mexico
Potential environmental time bombs in the form of 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells are lurking in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico. Obama “Ass To Kick” Transcript. Over half of the 50,000 wells which have been drilled in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico have been abandoned, with 23,500 of them considered permanently sealed.
As many as 3,500 of the wells are considered “temporarily abandoned.” The oldest of the abandoned wells investigated by the AP date back to the 1940s. Wells are abandoned by oil companies when they are considered to no longer be profitable, or when the potential for the amount of oil to be drawn from the well is not as high as the company may have initially believed.
The standard procedure for plugging a well to be abandoned permanently by an oil company involves cutting riser piping 15 feet beneath the seabed, filling the well with heavy liquid, often referred to as drilling mud, to prevent the flow of oil and capping the well with cement plugs which can be up to 200 feet in length. Several factors can cause abandoned wells to leak or fail, including erosion or aging in the cement used to plug the wells and repressurization of wells due to changes in geological conditions. Erosion in well casing or other areas of the well structure can allow oil and gas to escape to the surface. This can occur gradually or in a sudden catastrophic blowout.
Many oil companies get around this by classifying their wells as “temporarily abandoned,” so they can plug the wells in a less thorough and expensive process. companies can leave their wells in a kind of legal limbo for years. They can do so knowing they will face no repercussion from governmental regulating industries.
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