27,000 Abandoned Oil Wells Litter the Gulf of Mexico

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A staggering 27,000 abandoned oil wells litter the sea bed of the Gulf of Mexico and no one, not the oil industry or the Federal government, is checking to see if they are leaking, this according to an Associated Press investigation.

Ignored for decades, the oldest of these wells were abandoned in the late 1940s, raising the prospect that many deteriorating sealing jobs are already failing.

The AP investigation uncovered particular concern with 3,500 of the neglected wells — those characterized 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 even though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.

As a forceful reminder of the potential harm, the well beneath BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig was being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment when it exploded April 20th, killing eleven workers and leading to the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

BP alone has abandoned about 600 such wells in the Gulf, according to government data.

This entry was posted in Big Oil, Corporate America, Corporate Greed, Environment, Gulf Oil Spill, News and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to 27,000 Abandoned Oil Wells Litter the Gulf of Mexico

  1. Idaho Librul says:

    If one good thing came out of the horrible, lethal BP oil rig explosion and subsequent environmental disaster it is this: the American people were forced to learn more about Big Oil, and the power Big Oil has over the Federal government and the citizens of this nation.

    Before Deepwater Horizon, I think most of us just went to the gas station, filled up or put in $15 dollars and drove away. Not giving two thoughts to the very industry holding sway over this country.

    Now we’re wiser and more informed. I appreciate the coverage you have devoted here to the Gulf oil disaster, Christopher. Keep up the good work.

  2. Harry says:

    27,000 abandoned oil wells in the Gulf? Unreal.

  3. Woodcliffe says:

    This is really shocking stuff.

    I’m just wondering? Would the Gulf of Mexico be eligible for Super Fund clean up monies? 27,000 oil wells will take billions to clear away and many years.

    The Feds could bill the oil companies who left this mess behind. If they don’t reimburse the Feds, the Feds can keep them in court for a decade until they write the check.

  4. fran says:

    When I first heard rumblings about the EPA & the Coast Guard being in cahoots w big oil, I had my doubts. But with the latest media ban (must stay 65 feet away from workers, boom & boats & for picture taking)….. and the EPA letting BP dump all the chemical dispersant they want, it’s pretty clear they too are tainted, as much as the Minerals services branch was. What hope do we have if the EPA & the Coast Guard have no teeth to regulate BP or big oil in general???

    Have you looked at the gusher cam lately?
    The whole blowout preventer looks like it is swaying, as well as the containment cap bobbling around. Now there is talk of hooking it up directly to a tanker…. but I suspect there is something they are not telling us. Something is failing- thus the need for a new method. The whole thing looks very shaky & I’m not just talking about the blowout preventer & cap.

  5. bradfrmphnx says:

    You don’t even want to know how many oil wells there are in the world, and how much oil they are leaching into the groundwater. I’m no expert but I have read where the amount of oil spilled on land dwarfs the amounts ever spilled in our oceans. This oil gets washed into the oceans by our watersheds, and also goes into our groundwater. I just think we need to stay focused on alternative energy sources, and getting away from our carbon based fuels addiction altogether.

  6. Francois Moller says:

    Just one example of how greed is messing up the planet. I find this truly disgusting behavior by the super-filthy-obscenely-rich criminals of the planet, that are running or owning these multinational evil companies. They have no conscience, no morals or common decency, nothing else matters only profit is the main driver of their pathetic lives!

  7. Pingback: BP News

  8. Curt says:


  9. DMason says:

    I had no idea there were 27,000 abandoned oil wells in the Gulf. But if you figure we’ve been drilling for oil in the area since the 1930’s, I guess the numbers add up. It’s as though we want to kill all life there. All in the name of US economic supremacy.

  10. mipolitico says:

    It still amazes me the depth of ignorance so many (throwing myself in there) find ourselves in when it comes to these enviromental/energy issues. I’m a Sierra Club member and die hard politico, yet I had never heard of the abandoned oil well issue. Ever.

    I think I just assumed that oil companies cleaned up after themselves. It sounds crazy, typing that sentence now.

  11. Randy Arroyo says:

    So basically the Gulf of Mexico has been treated like a garbage dump site by Big Oil for the past 65+ years and no one knew about it until now. Americans, myself included, had better wake the hell up and hold these bastards accountable. I’m writing the White House about this.

  12. chlost says:

    That diagram with all of those yellow dots almost completely obscuring the blue water is quite effective. I had no idea that there were that many oil wells, let alone those that are abandoned. We have a lot to learn.

  13. Joe in Colorado says:

    In these economic times, I don’t see where the money would come from to clean up the abandoned wells. The oil companies have been bought by other oil companies, some are out of business and the Big Boys will draw a line in the sand and refuse to use even a small percentage of the billions to make their environment whole again. I wouldn’t hold my breath the Obama administration will ask them to do it either. He’s too right-of-center when it comes to business to push them.

  14. retahyajyajav says:

    This is truly beyond comprehension.

  15. distributorcap says:

    why does this not surprise me

    i wonder what the rich republicans will say when they have no seafood or fish or beaches to swim in

    they will blame the poor and minorities of course!

  16. mauigirl says:


  17. D BROWN says:

    “being sealed with cement” I don’t think so. The heavy mud that was holding the pressure in the well was being taken out before that top valve was in. BP was told not too. Gas blow past the mud burned and could not be shut off. The driling ship was sunk by the fire boats filling it with water.

  18. D BROWN says:


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