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Well Abandonment in Alberta: FAQ for Oil & Gas Operators and Lenders



If you are a water, oil, or gas operator or lender, there will come a time when it is time to abandon a well.


There are currently more than 95,000 inactive wells across the province of Alberta, some of which may present serious risks to health, as well as ecological and geological stability. As the government tightens the rules on well abandonment, it is crucial that you know the rules.


The well abandonment process might seem daunting but doing it the right way is non-negotiable. Here’s what you should know to get started with the basics.


Why Do I Need to Know the Well Abandonment Guidelines?


Understanding the guidelines is essential to ensure compliance and minimize the cost of well abandonment. Adhering to the guidelines can help mitigate fines, keeping your project budget in check. Moreover, it can prevent criminal proceedings or liabilities that could damage the reputation of your company.


It's worth noting that the Alberta Government has introduced new regulations requiring operators to demonstrate their competence in the abandonment and cleanup process before issuing new drilling licenses.


Considering these factors, it's clear that familiarizing yourself with the well abandonment process is an integral aspect of good business practice.


What Do I Do Before the Well Abandonment?


Before you notify authorities that you are abandoning a well, there are a couple of things you need to do.


It's essential to hire a professional contractor like Aaron Drilling who is experienced in well abandonment. We can advise you on the specific steps you need to take and ensure that the process is done safely and in compliance with regulations.


Ideally, you should gather as much information as possible about its history and use. This can include drilling reports, water quality tests, and any previous well maintenance records. This information can help determine the most appropriate abandonment method and identify any potential hazards.


Additionally, you need to inform all affected residents and landowners about the abandonment and its impacts. You will also need to conduct thorough, third-party testing of the well to ensure that the abandonment does not cause any risk to the public or to the environment.


What is Subsurface Abandonment?


The first step of the well abandonment process is called "subsurface abandonment." This requires you to clean out the interior of the wellbore.


This is to remove anything that could cause corrosion or leaks. Any oil gas and oil formations must be isolated with the use of cement plugs. All groundwater zones need to be isolated in the same way.


After this, you can simply fill the well up with a noncorrosive fluid (such as freshwater). Then, you must conduct another assessment to ensure there are no leaks.


What is Surface Abandonment?


After the subsurface abandonment is complete, it's time to focus up top. This is the "surface" or "cut-and-cap" stage of the abandonment process. For this, you need to cut down the casing of the well to at least one meter below the surface.


Then, you need to place a vented cap on top of the well casing to seal it off. After this, you have 12 months to ensure that all surface-level infrastructure from the well project is safely removed.


Remember, it is essential that you notify the Alberta Energy Regulator if you identify any risks or potential leaks during this entire process.


Preparing for Well Abandonment? Contact Aaron Drilling to Get Started!


Well abandonment is an essential part of all drilling. When done right, you protect people, the planet, and your company's reputation.


That's why we're here to help. We specialize in water well abandonment in Alberta and have years of proven experience and satisfied customers to show for it.


If you’re looking for expert help for your well abandonment, do not hesitate to get in touch with the specialized team at Aaron Drilling to find out what we can do for you.


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