The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), a national laboratory of the US Department of Energy, recently announced that it will support a new research consortium focused on undocumented orphan wells.
Undocumented orphan wells were drilled before enactment of environmental laws and are not documented on public maps, or records have been lost.
Over five years, the consortium will identify orphan wells and determine their full environmental impact. He will also develop and test technologies and processes in the field and deploy the technology at scale.
NETL has completed projects in northwestern Pennsylvania, Oklahoma and other areas that have located abandoned wells and measured their methane emissions.
At Oil Creek State Park near Titusville, Pennsylvania, researchers used drones and airborne magnetic surveys to detect the unique magnetic signatures of steel well casings. They also used LiDAR technology to identify topographic anomalies caused by the wellhead collapse.
There are hundreds of thousands of undocumented orphan oil and natural gas wells in the United States, according to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).
The consortium includes representatives from NETL, four other national laboratories, the IOGCC and the US Department of the Interior.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Act provided $30 million to establish the consortium.