Last month there was a scare about a second leaking Gulf of Mexico oil well. The government dismissed the rumours, saying the abandoned well had been leaking small amounts since 2004 (as if that was a relief).
Turns out there are 27,000 abandoned wells, which the government does not check for leaks, according to an AP investigation:
More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk in the hard rock beneath the Gulf of Mexico, an environmental minefield that has been ignored for decades…
The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells — those characterised in federal government records as “temporarily abandoned.”
Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s — eveb though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.
It’s another sign regulators were sleeping at the wheel and BP’s reckless practices were common practice.
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