Webinar: Orphan and Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells in Pennsylvania (60 mins.)

  • August 25, 2020
  • 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
  • Webinar
  • 92



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Seth Pelepko, P.G., Environmental Program Manager

Division of Well Plugging and Subsurface Activities
Bureau of Oil & Gas Planning and Program Management
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Level:  Intermediate

Oil and gas development in Pennsylvania has been ongoing for over 160 years. While much of the recent dialog has focused on extraction from unconventional shale gas plays; significant, environmental and public safety concerns correspond to legacy oil and gas wells. An estimated 100,00 to 560,000 wells drilled historically in the commonwealth have not yet been identified and the decommissioning liability associated with these wells is estimated in billions of dollars.

Undocumented wells do not always present problems that are easy to observe, as mechanical integrity failures may occur deep below the surface. Wells have the potential to contribute to the degradation of water supplies and stray gas migration. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) plugging program has the legislative authority to decommission legacy wells when problems arise or are anticipated and there is no viable responsible party. Creating sustainable funding sources for this work, however, will likely require some combination of legislative attention and innovative thinking.

This webinar will address historical oil and gas development in the state, and the current scope of Pennsylvania’s legacy well liability.  Emerging issues relating to legacy well integrity will also be presented along with forecasts for different funding models. Finally, encroachment between commercial/residential development and legacy oil and gas infrastructure will be addressed.  The significance of findings is discussed in the context of environmental, public safety, and economic risk; with an emphasis on appropriate regional concerns.

About our instructor

Seth Pelepko currently serves as the Subsurface Activities Division Manager for DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management. He has worked in this capacity for over five years and has been with the Office of Oil and Gas Management for almost ten years. His areas of expertise include stray gas migration casework, gas and oil well integrity, and legacy well topics.  He received a B.S. degree in Earth Sciences in 1998 from the Pennsylvania State University and M.S. degree in Geology from the University of Delaware.  He has been a licensed professional geologist in Pennsylvania since 2004.  Mr. Pelepko will be providing an overview of legacy oil and gas well development in Pennsylvania with an emphasis on the current challenges faced by the agency regarding abandoned wells with no associated viable responsible party. Environmental, public safety, and funding liabilities will be discussed.

Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists
116 Forest Drive, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania 17011

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