Hovan Discusses Efforts to Address Orphaned and Abandoned Oil/Gas Wells

Posted on 11/6/2018 10:47:40 AM

Geoscience faculty member Steve Hovan served on a panel with colleagues from industry (David Ochs) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (Seth Palepko) to discuss ongoing efforts to address orphaned and abandoned oil/gas wells and create opportunities for collaboration.

Pennsylvania has a long history of energy development since the first oil well was drilled near Oil City nearly 150 years ago. Much of the early drilling activity occurred prior to the modern era of environmental regulations, leaving behind a large number of “legacy wells.” Some estimates suggest that several hundred thousand legacy wells may exist in the state, with little information about their location and/or closure status.

IUP has recently teamed with SAFER-PA and the state DEP to create easy access to the PA Oil and Gas inventory database and encourage citizen stakeholders to help identify the location and condition of unknown or undocumented abandoned oil/gas wells. We have developed a mobile phone app called WELLMapper that displays the location of active/plugged/abandoned/orphaned wells that are currently listed with the PA-DEP.

If users want to submit unknown wells or report environmental concerns from existing wells, WELLMapper allows them to submit a “pending well” to be examined by IUP faculty and students then forwarded to the DEP for inclusion into their database. A free version of WELLMapper can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play.