Well Abandonment – What is this all about?

oil reservoirDifferent groups of scientists and engineers go through long processes in trying to explore, locate, and identify oil reservoirs that are yet untapped underneath the earth, either on solid ground, or at the bottom of the sea. They then try to establish the best method possible that would allow them to drill, extract, and recover as much of the oil and gas deposited inside the reservoir. Once they are able to tap on the reserve for oil production, an oilfield facility is then built around the oil well where they extract and mine the fossil fuel deposited there.

The thing with oil wells is that no matter how rich they are in oil, there will come a point where they will dry out from the extraction being made by the oil company who has rights to extrude oil from that oil well site. However, when it dries out, the oil company cannot just simply abandon the oil well and leave as there are regulations that need to be followed when it comes to well abandonment and reclamation.

The regulations in well abandonment and reclamation should be strictly followed as failure to do so may have catastrophic impact not just with the environment, but also with the oil company as there are certain penalties involved should they illegally just abandon an oil well without any proper modifications being made to it. In Alberta, Canada, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) strictly regulates safe, efficient, orderly, and environmentally responsible development of hydrocarbon resources over the entirety of their life cycle. This includes the initial application and construction of the oil well, to its finality abandonment and reclamation. Regulation over reclamation and remediation activities on closure of energy resource development is under AER jurisdiction and assumes strict responsibility of its regulation.

Wells are abandoned due to different reasons. Of course, the most common reason is that the well is no longer able to produce oil and gas development and thus no longer makes it necessary to operate the facility handling the extraction and recovery from that oil well. Another reason is when an operator’s mineral lease expires.

Wells are abandoned following strict sets of requirements under well abandonment of the AERs Directives. The licensee of the well are required to make sure that the wells they leave will not pose any serious risk to the environment or that of the public once they permanently leave the well along with some of the structure of their facility that will be left behind. Under the requirements of the AER, any issues that will be found must be necessarily modified to ensure the directives are strictly followed. A group of licensed panel will perform inspections and once all necessary sets have been passed, only then will the licensee get the clearance on well abandonment.