Monday, January 16, 2023

DEP 2021 Oil & Gas Program Annual Report Shows Conventional Oil & Gas Operators Received A Record 610 Notices Of Violation For Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them

2021 Oil and Gas Program Annual Report issued by DEP in December shows conventional oil and gas operators received a record 610 notices of violation for abandoning wells without plugging them and unconventional shale gas operators received 27 NOVs.

In the two prior years, DEP issued 360 NOVs in 2019 and 453 in 2020 to conventional oil and gas operators for the same offense.

DEP’s Conventional Oil & Gas Industry Compliance Report issued in December reported between 2017 through 2021, the agency issued 3,123 notices of violation for abandoning wells without plugging them.  Read more here.

Conventional Violations

DEP’s 2021 Annual Report also found these frequent violations by conventional operators--

-- 542 for failure to submit production reports showing how much waste they generate and where it is being disposed;

-- 537 for failure to submit annual mechanical integrity report demonstrating wells are not leaking into ground or surface water or methane into the air;

-- 182 for managing residual waste without a permit or in a manner unauthorized by state law; and

-- 134 for failure to meet general requirements for well construction and operation.

DEP’s report on conventional operators’ compliance concluded-- “A significant change in the culture of non-compliance as an acceptable norm in the conventional oil and gas industry will need to occur before meaningful improvement can happen.” Read more here.

Unconventional Violations

In 2021, DEP reported the most frequent violations by unconventional shale gas operators were--

-- 196 for failure to report or correct improper cementing or well casings to ensure the integrity of wells they drilled;

-- 100 for failing to obtain a permit for operating a residual waste processing or disposal facility;

-- 96 for failure to prevenue natural gas flow in the annulus of a well during casing and cementing;

-- 83 for failure to get a permit to conduct a regulated activity;

-- 66 for failure to prevent natural gas, oil, wastewater or servicing fluids from entering fresh groundwater or prevent pollution or diminution of fresh groundwater;

-- 60 for failure to submit a well completion report showing wells met construction and operating requirements;

-- 57 for failure to contain regulated substances or waste within a containment or storage area; and

-- 24 for failure to submit annual mechanical integrity reports demonstrating wells are not leaking into ground or surface water or methane into the air.

Click Here for DEP’s summary of violations for 2021.

DEP’s 2021 Annual Report shows conventional oil and gas operators were issued 4,514 notices of violation and unconventional shale gas operators were issued 1,323.

In 2021, DEP reported doing 34,145 total inspections-- 11,684 of conventional oil and gas wells and 18,048 for unconventional shale gas wells.

For 2022, DEP reported issuing a record number of notices of violation to both the conventional-- 5,059-- and unconventional shale gas-- 1,148-- during 2022. Read more here.

During 2022, DEP did a total of 34,473 inspections--  12,846 inspections of conventional operators and 21,627 inspections of unconventional shale gas operators. Read more here.

Visit DEP’s 2021 Oil and Gas Program Annual Report webpage for more information on 2021 activities by this program.

Weekly Oil & Gas Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Jan. 7 to 13  [PaEN] 

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment - Jan. 14  [PaEN]

PA Oil & Gas Industry Compliance Reports:

-- PA Oil & Gas Industry Has Record Year: Cost, Criminal Convictions Up; $3.1 Million In Penalties Collected; Record Number Of Violations Issued; Major Compliance Issues Uncovered; Evidence Of Health Impacts Mounts

-- DEP Report Finds: Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers Routinely Abandon Wells; Fail To Report How Millions Of Gallons Of Waste Is Disposed; And Non-Compliance Is An ‘Acceptable Norm’

Related Articles:

-- DEP Releases 2 More Bid Solicitations To Plug 38 Abandoned Conventional Gas Wells In Venango County At Taxpayer Expense; Average Cost To Plug $95,000

-- Ohio River Valley Institute Report Shows Diversified Energy, Owner Of Over 22,500 Conventional Oil & Gas Wells In PA, May Be Financially Insolvent

-- Guest Essay: Counties, PEMA Need To Include A Complete Vulnerability Assessment Of All Natural Gas Facilities In State, County Hazard Mitigation Emergency Plans

-- FracTracker Alliance Hosts Jan. 17 Webinar On Exploring Oil & Gas Industrialization Impacts On Watersheds

[Posted: January 16, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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