Perilous Pathways: The danger of drilling near abandoned wells
There are probably around 200,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania. We know where just a slim fraction – probably four percent – of these wells are.
The information gap is a problem, because abandoned wells are dangerous.
Abandoned wells provide pathways for methane gas to seep to the surface, where it can, under the right settings, trigger explosions. Active drilling near unplugged abandoned wells is dangerous, too. In June 2012, the intersection between a Shell fracking operation and a forgotten well drilled in 1932 likely led to a 30-foot geyser of methane and gas.
StateImpact Pennsylvania takes a look at this issue in “Perilous Pathways,” a four-part online series answering questions about abandoned wells. Click on the links below to read each part of the series, as well as an infographic explaining methane migration, and a map documenting every known abandoned well in Pennsylvania.