The orphan well burden

Matt Zborowski Staff Writer Amid the many issues that are debated, exaggerated, and understated relating to oil and gas drilling and production, the prevalence of unplugged and abandoned, or "orphaned" wells is one that until recently had been largely overlooked. In addition to the unsightliness of decades-old equipment that's often left behind at the site of the old wells looms the possibility that many of them could pose a threat to the environment or to public safety. Scientific America in 2011 estimated—with emphasis on estimated—that as many as 12 million wells may have been drilled in the US over the past 150 years. No one truly knows how many of those holes exist because,...

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