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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inactive Oil & Gas Wells in the Gulf of Mexico To Be Removed

The Bureau of Ocean Energy that morphed from the Minerals Management Service has ordered Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas operators to plug wells that been inactive for the past five years. Production platforms and pipelines must be decommissioned if they are not being used for exploration or production, even under an active lease.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior Department, more than 3,000 inactive wells and about 650 production platforms need to be dismantled and removed in the Gulf of Mexico. This "idle iron," inactive wells and platforms that litter the gulf, poses hazards to shipping and run some of the greatest risks of leaks and accidents during storms. Although the Interior Federal regulations require idle structures to be decommissioned - a process that involves scrapping iron and steel platforms and pipelines or turning them into artificial reefs - within one year of the lease's expiration date. The regulations are rarely enforced.

Operators believe that inactive wells could become economically viable again depending on oil prices. The Minerals Management Service has been unable to inspect the thousands of sites in the gulf.

Hercules Offshore and Seahawk Drilling are two companies involved in dismantling platforms. (Wash Post, 9/15/2010)

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