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IPEConnect | Fall 2022:
Orphan Wells: A Best Practices Approach


Dan Arthur, P.E., SPEC
President & Chief Engineer
ALL Consulting

Presentation Date: November 3, 2022

The presence of Orphaned Oil & Gas wells is a long known issues throughout the United States, especially consider the first well was built in 1859 by Edwin L. Drake in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Both orphan and other wells that may not have been properly plugged & abandoned yield potential environmental concerns, including impacts to surface water & groundwater as well as methane emissions. However, well drilling & completion practices have varied substantially since 1859! Moreover, equipment types, the presence of any type of regulations, evolution of all facets of how we build wells has changed substantially over the years. As such, locating wells (some have no casing or even wooden casings); assessing risks (e.g., re-entry, blow-out potential, etc.); designing plugging procedures; understanding variations in practices for different areas/time; and so on can be critical to successful, safe and economically prudent plugging of these wells.

This paper will provide a high-level summary of the many considerations related to dealing with Orphan and other wells that may require plugging or re-plugging.

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