• 4 minutes Pompeo: Aramco Attacks Are An "Act Of War" By Iran
  • 7 minutes Who Really Benefits From The "Iran Attacked Saudi Arabia" Narrative?
  • 11 minutes Trump Will Win In 2020
  • 15 minutes Experts review Saudi damage photos. Say Said is need to do a lot of explaining.
  • 1 min Ethanol is the SAVIOR of the Oil Industry, Convenience Store Industry, Automotive Supply Chain Industry and Much More!
  • 12 hours Saudi State-of-Art Defense System looking the wrong way. MBS must fire Defense Minister. Oh, MBS is Defense Minister. Forget about it.
  • 6 hours Let's shut down dissent like The Conversation in Australia
  • 2 hours One of the fire satellite pictures showed what look like the fire hit outside the main oil complex. Like it hit storage or pipeline facility. Not big deal.
  • 1 hour Trump Accidentally Discusses Technology Used In The Border Wall
  • 12 hours Hong Kong protesters appeal to Trump for support.
  • 5 hours Collateral Damage: Saudi Disruption Leaves Canada's Biggest Refinery Vulnerable
  • 20 hours Saudis Buying Oil From Iraq
  • 2 mins Famous Manufacturer of Anti-Ethanol Additives Proves Ethanol's Safety and Benefits
  • 2 hours Ethanol, the Perfect Home Remedy for A Saudi Oil Fever
  • 21 hours Donald Trump Proposes Harnessing Liberal Tears To Provide Clean Energy
  • 21 hours Saudis Confirm a Cruise Missile from Iranian Origin
  • 5 hours Iran in the world market
Alt Text

Is Libya Facing A New Oil Crisis?

Libya’s NOC condemned the setting…

Alt Text

Trade War Optimism Halts Oil Price Slump

Financial markets have received a…

Alt Text

Trump Clashes With California Over Fuel Regulations

The Trump administration is moving…

Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy

Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com

More Info

Premium Content

A New Oil Spill Disaster Waiting To Happen In The Gulf

The number of oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico that have been temporarily sealed is growing, according to a new investigation from the Associated Press.

Oil companies sometimes put temporary caps on oil wells if there is the possibility that they will return to use the well at some point in the future. But wells that have not been permanently sealed can suffer from corrosion, leaks, and potential ruptures, posing a safety and environmental risk.

After the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in 2010, the federal government tried to accelerate the permanent closure of wells that are sitting idle. But the AP finds that such an effort it is falling far short of its objective, with the number of temporary wells ballooning since then. Related: More Job Losses Coming to U.S. Shale

For example, the number of wells that have been placed under temporary seal for more than one year has grown by 25 percent since 2010, jumping from 2,855 to 3,576. In fact, those wells that have been sitting with temporary seals for longer than one year actually make up more than 86 percent of all temporarily sealed wells.

Worse yet, there are a handful of wells that have been under temporary seal since the 1950s, and at least 17 since the 1970s. Related: This Is Why Oil Markets Shouldn’t Worry About Iran’s Comeback

There are several reasons why companies might choose to close a well only temporarily. They may need to redesign a drilling operation to correct a problem, or they may simply want to wait until oil prices rise. But the proliferation of wells that have been under temporary seal for an extended period of time raises questions about the integrity of the wells themselves, which could cause oil to leak into the Gulf. It also points to loopholes in federal regulations – as long as companies say they have plans to reuse the wells, they do not have to permanently close them. Related: Oil Shipments by Rail Declining

Permanently sealing a well is a much more involved process that can ensure oil does not migrate up the well and pose a danger of leaking. But permanently closing wells also costs more than a temporary approach.

The federal government insists that it is making progress on its objectives, citing a lower backlog of temporary wells that it is targeting for permanent closure. Yet with the number of temporarily idled wells on the rise, the government’s ability to get a handle on the problem seems questionable.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Download The Free Oilprice App Today

Back to homepage



Leave a comment

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News
Download on the App Store Get it on Google Play