Abandoned oil, gas wells major problem

The American Press

The existence of nearly 2,000 new “orphan” oil and gas wells since the oil price collapse four years ago continues to be a major problem for Louisiana state government. As the name implies, those are abandoned wells created after hard times in the industry.

Patrick Courreges, communications director for the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), told The Advocate, “We lost a lot of ground from 2014 on. It got real rough.”

“Not all the folks we orphan are bad operators and operate in bad faith,” he said. “A lot of them are good people who try to work within the rules and they just went broke.”

Courreges said Louisiana began its Oilfield Site Restoration program in 1993 in response to the 1980s oil bust. However, funding the necessary work continues to be difficult because of the more recent decline in oil prices.

Wilma Subra of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network said, “We definitely know there are wells that are causing severe environmental impacts that there aren’t enough resources to deal with. They’re leaking, they’re spilling, and they’re emitting.”

When the oil and gas operators fall out of compliance with state rules, DNR levies fines and suspends their production until they correct the problems. If they don’t comply or respond, the state “orphans” those wells and bans the company and its officers from operating in the state.

A state audit issued in 2014 found that a fee on oil and gas operators that funds restoration efforts to plug abandoned wells was insufficient to meet the needs. Fees have been increased and other changes have been made since then, but the number of those wells keeps increasing.

From 2014 to 2017, the state plugged an average of 105-orphaned wells per year, but during that same period the state added 413 newly orphaned wells per year. Finding contractors to plug the wells has also been difficult.

The major problem is finding the funds to plug the most environmentally unsafe wells. This orphaned well crisis is another result of the Legislature’s failure to enact tougher regulations on the oil and gas industry and to reform the state’s budget and tax systems.


This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Crystal Stevenson, John Guidroz, retired editor Jim Beam and retired staff writer Mike Jones

””

Section 28 Field, St. Martin Parish. This bid project consisted of the plugging and abandonment of 30 orphan wells and the removal of 3 facilities completed April 16, 2010.

Courtesy of dnr.louisiana.gov

SportsPlus

Crime

7/1: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

McNeese Sports

Southland welcomes two new members

Local News

Supreme Court rules ex-presidents have broad immunity, dimming chance of a pre-election Trump trial

Business

Names in the News: People shaping the future of Lake Area business

life

On Campus: SW La. students recognized for achievements

Local News

How will Louisiana’s new Ten Commandments classroom requirement be funded and enforced?

Local News

Biden meets with his family amid pressures to step down after debate

Local News

Donation celebrated by Second Harvest, but volunteers are still needed

Local News

Grand Avenue Gym: DeQuincy landmark fading fast, group fighting to save it says

Local News

Beryl becomes major hurricane forecast to bring life-threatening conditions to Caribbean

life

Fourth of July festivities in Jennings will kick off with Stars and Stripes Festival

Local News

Ceremony held at Fort Johnson for deploying troops

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Don’t expect new candidates

life

SW La. nightlife calendar: There’s always something to do

life

USAF Band of the West making Lake Charles stop

high-school Sports

Upgrades planned for Jerry Simmons football stadium in Jennings

Crime

Lafayette teen charged in Ernest Street fatal shooting

Crime

6/28: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Longhorns make quite a statement to the SEC

Local News

Bicyclist fatally struck after allegedly running stop sign

Local News

PHOTO GALLERY: Stitch Guillory sworn in as sheriff

Local News

Sheriff Guillory: ‘I am living MLK’s dream’

Local News

Supreme Court allows cities to enforce bans on homeless people sleeping outside

Local News

Work begins on new artificial reef off Cameron coast to provide habitat