• By STEPHANIE JOYCE • FEB 9, 2016

living on top of forgotten oil and gas wells


When a well stops producing commercial quantities of oil and gas, companies ‘abandon’ it by placing cement plugs inside the wellbore, to stop the flow of gas and fluids. The industry considers that the end of the life of a well. . . .[the] conventional wisdom—that a well is dead once it is plugged with cement—means there’s no systematic monitoring for leaks of any of the millions of abandoned wells in the U.S. Colorado alone has more than 35,000 abandoned wells; Wyoming, more than 50,000. . . . Unless a well starts leaking fluids or a house blows up, the assumption is that everything is fine. But recent work by Jackson’s research group challenges that idea.

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