Throughout Pennsylvania’s historic oil and gas region an unknown number of wells exist. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) officials estimate there have been between 350,000 and 500,000 wells drilled since 1859. Many of these have been lost, abandoned long before operators were required to document well locations; however thousands of these wells have been fairly well documented.
Early United States Geological Survey (USGS) ‘farmline’ maps are maps that identify oil and gas well locations. The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), The Library of Congress, libraries and historical societies have many records on legacy wells and farmline maps. Many wells have been fairly well documented in USGS survey reports and USGS topography maps. Thousands of legacy well locations are identified in these records, yet a large number of these records have not been reconciled with the PADEP oil and gas well data base.
The DEP Office of Oil and Gas Management abandoned and orphan well database contains location information on only a small fraction of Pennsylvania’s legacy oil and gas wells.
Unplugged wells may and often do act as pathways which allow natural gas and fluids to migrate between formations or travel up the wellbore and contaminate the aquifer, soil and surface water. Many of these wells have been venting natural gas and contaminants into the atmosphere and environment for decades.
Lost, orphan and abandoned wells pose physical and environmental danger, and when new development takes place nearby; the danger is significantly heightened.
There have been numerous cases of natural gas migration associated with abandoned wells. Many have been investigated by the PADEP and include contaminated aquifers, exploded homes, property loss, injuries and fatalities.
Present day operators are not required to plug the abandoned wells left behind by past operators.
Some operators voluntarily plug them, but many operators do not.
Industry experts have recommended changes to regulations, suggesting PADEP officials update the current O&G regulations; to require operators to identify and plug legacy oil and gas wells located in the vicinity of proposed unconventional wells, their lateral bores and fracture zones before drilling and hydraulic fracturing takes place nearby.
There is no mechanism in place to notify public water source providers, municipal officials, planning commissions, oil and gas operators and emergency management officials of legacy well locations, while new wells are being drilled and hydraulically fractured nearby.
Over the years a large number of wells have had their wellheads, surface casings and other related infrastructure removed. This makes the task of locating lost and abandoned wells difficult and costly. Minimal effort has been made to accomplish this.
In areas of Pennsylvania, which are highly concentrated with legacy wells, communities have been developed over legacy oil and gas fields as permits to drill new unconventional shale gas wells are authorized.
These issues are large problem for officials to tackle and as new leases are signed and unconventional gas well permits are authorized; regulations have not changed.
Pennsylvania officials have failed to provide solutions. That is why I am asking you to sign this petition asking for a moratorium on shale gas exploration in the Historic oil and gas regions of Pennsylvania
It's time for the Corbett administration and PADEP oil and gas regulators to implement a moratorium on Shale gas exploration in the historic oil and gas regions until a plan is in place to address the woefully incomplete PADEP oil and gas well database.
A moratorium is needed until a mechanism is in place to share this information with public water source providers, oil and gas well operators, emergency management officials, planning commissions and municipal officials.
A moratorium is needed on Shale gas development in the historic oil and gas region until the advice industry experts and advisers gave to the PADEP is followed.
Regulations need to be put in place to minimize these environmental, public health and safety risks by requiring operators to identify and plug abandoned wells in the vicinity of proposed wells, lateral wellbores and fracture zones.
What you can do:
Sign our petition and tell Gov. Corbett , and PADEP officials : Stop drilling and fracking among unplugged wells!
Tell Pennsylvania officials to suspend all drilling and fracking among the lost and abandoned oil and gas wells in the historic oil and gas regions of Pennsylvania until the proper regulations are in place!