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Temporarily Abandoned Oil Wells May Be Quietly Poisoning...

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Temporarily Abandoned Oil Wells May Be Quietly Poisoning...

Postby skynet » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:48 am

How bad can the situation in the Gulf get?

"Temporarily Abandoned" Oil Wells May Be Quietly Poisoning Gulf

An AP investigation finds that as many as 27,000 oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico have been "temporarily abandoned" for decades—the oldest dates back to the 1940s—and without government oversight or permanent plugs, could potentially be leaking. Temporarily abandoned wells are plugged with cement and steel casings—which deteriorate over time—and to boot, geologists warn that wells can repressurize, "much like a dormant volcano can awaken." According to the investigation, more than half of the 50,000 wells drilled in the Gulf have been abandoned—23,500 of them permanently, and the rest "temporarily." BP alone has temporarily abandoned more than 600 wells. While companies must present plans to permanently seal a well within a year of temporarily abandoning it, the AP found that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (up until recently known as the U.S. Minerals Management Service) routinely failed to check up on wells, which allowed companies to use the "provision to keep the wells in limbo indefinitely." "No one looks methodically for leaks, which can't easily be detected from the surface," the AP says, "and no one in government or industry goes underwater to inspect, either." The main reason companies temporarily abandon wells is financial: The AP finds that "It would cost the industry at least $3 billion to permanently plug the 10,500 now-active wells and the 3,500 temporarily abandoned ones in the Gulf." Under current regulations, there's no way of telling how many wells are leaking: Not only are regulators not checking up on abandoned wells, but there's no data available for how many wells have been reactivated.;contentBody
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