Case Study - Oil & Gas Well Closure & Reclamation

Updated: Mar 18, 2021

There are over 450,000 oil and gas wells within Alberta, Canada dating back from the present back to the 1940s. As these wells finish production or are sold to other companies, they can present a risk to wildlife, the environment and people through leaks, contamination and other issues. The Federal and Provincial governments partnered to create a well closure and reclamation program to remove and seal the well, remediate any contamination and reclaim the area back to its original state.

We were approached to perform an analysis of 1880 wells within the client’s area to determine which ones posed the highest risk and should be targeted for closure. We gathered data related to:

  • Rivers and waterways in the region

  • Critical species and wildlife at risk

  • Well data, locations and status

  • Protected areas (historic, cultural, paleontological, etc.)

  • Buildings in the area, etc.

The ARTEMIS computer simulation was used to conduct a multivariate analysis of the multiple risks at play in the area and we identified the 150 riskiest wells according to the client’s priorities. We then prepared a report that identified each of the wells and why each well was selected.

Key learnings were as follows:

  • Due to the downturn in the energy market in Canada, many companies are financially at risk for bankruptcy, so some of their wells were prioritized for closure. It is easier to close and reclaim wells with an active company than through a receiver or when a company is bankrupt.

  • Older wells present a higher risk to all client priorities because of contamination, leaks, older construction techniques, lack of inspections, deteriorating bores, etc.

  • There are many oil wells that are located in or near (within 100m) of critical waterways, and several sour gas wells that are located near communities. Sour gas (Hydrogen Sulphide) can kill people, even in small quantities.

The client is now using this information to begin closure and reclamation of wells on their priority list.

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