National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Thousands of abandoned wells dot ocean floor

 |  NCR Today

There is no need to comment on this story. The facts speak for themselves, and they are saying DANGER!

Gulf awash in 27,000 abandoned wells

By JEFF DONN and MITCH WEISS, Associated Press Writers (AP National Investigative Team)

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."

Order a gift subscription to NCR, and we'll throw in a little something extra for you. Learn more

Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells .. [are] routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. ...

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 ...

There's ample reason for worry about all permanently and temporarily abandoned wells — history shows that at least on land, they often leak. ... Despite the likelihood of leaks large and small, though, abandoned wells are typically not inspected by industry or government.

... That means no one really knows how many abandoned wells are leaking — and how badly.

Read the full report.


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.