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Title: Methods for Finding Legacy Wells in Large Areas

Abstract

United States. When abandoned, many wells were not adequately sealed and now provide a potential conduit for the vertical movement of liquids and gases. Today, groundwater aquifers can be contaminated by surface pollutants flowing down wells or by deep, saline water diffusing upwards. Likewise, natural gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), or radon can travel upwards via these wells to endanger structures or human health on the surface. Recently, the need to find and plug wells has become critical with the advent of carbon dioxide injection into geologic formations for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or carbon storage. The potential for natural gas or brine leakage through existing wells has also been raised as a concern in regions where shale resources are hydraulically fractured for hydrocarbon recovery. In this study, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) updated existing, effective well finding techniques to be able to survey large areas quickly using helicopter or ground-vehicle-mounted magnetometers, combined with mobile methane detection. For this study, magnetic data were collected using airborne and ground vehicles equipped with two boom-mounted magnetometers, or on foot using a hand-held magnetometer with a single sensor. Data processing techniques were employed to accentuate well-casing-type magnetic signatures. To locate wells with nomore » magnetic signature (wells where the steel well casing had been removed), the team monitored for anomalous concentrations of methane, which could indicate migration of volatile compounds from deeper sedimentary strata along a well or fracture pathway. Methane measurements were obtained using the ALPIS DIfferential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) sensor for helicopter surveys and the Apogee leak detection system (LDS) for ground surveys. These methods were evaluated at a 100-year-old oilfield in Wyoming, where a helicopter magnetic survey accurately located 93% of visible wells. In addition, 20% of the wells found by the survey were previously unknown or inaccurately located. This study found helicopter magnetic surveys to be an accurate, cost- and time-effective means to locate steel-cased wells in large areas, and is a first step in evaluating whether well detection techniques can be applied effectively for well location screening across broad geographic areas.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2];  [1]
  1. National Energy Technology Lab. (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA, (United States)
  2. Fugro Airborne Surveys, Mississauga, ON (Canada)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Energy Technology Lab. (NETL), Pittsburgh, PA, (United States). In-house Research
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1330218
Report Number(s):
NETL-PUB-20579; NETL-TRS-6-2016
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; legacy wells; contaminated wells

Citation Formats

Hammack, Richard W., Veloski, Garret A., Hodges, D. Greg, and White, Jr., Curt M. Methods for Finding Legacy Wells in Large Areas. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.2172/1330218.
Hammack, Richard W., Veloski, Garret A., Hodges, D. Greg, & White, Jr., Curt M. Methods for Finding Legacy Wells in Large Areas. United States. doi:10.2172/1330218.
Hammack, Richard W., Veloski, Garret A., Hodges, D. Greg, and White, Jr., Curt M. Thu . "Methods for Finding Legacy Wells in Large Areas". United States. doi:10.2172/1330218. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1330218.
@article{osti_1330218,
title = {Methods for Finding Legacy Wells in Large Areas},
author = {Hammack, Richard W. and Veloski, Garret A. and Hodges, D. Greg and White, Jr., Curt M.},
abstractNote = {United States. When abandoned, many wells were not adequately sealed and now provide a potential conduit for the vertical movement of liquids and gases. Today, groundwater aquifers can be contaminated by surface pollutants flowing down wells or by deep, saline water diffusing upwards. Likewise, natural gas, carbon dioxide (CO2), or radon can travel upwards via these wells to endanger structures or human health on the surface. Recently, the need to find and plug wells has become critical with the advent of carbon dioxide injection into geologic formations for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) or carbon storage. The potential for natural gas or brine leakage through existing wells has also been raised as a concern in regions where shale resources are hydraulically fractured for hydrocarbon recovery. In this study, the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) updated existing, effective well finding techniques to be able to survey large areas quickly using helicopter or ground-vehicle-mounted magnetometers, combined with mobile methane detection. For this study, magnetic data were collected using airborne and ground vehicles equipped with two boom-mounted magnetometers, or on foot using a hand-held magnetometer with a single sensor. Data processing techniques were employed to accentuate well-casing-type magnetic signatures. To locate wells with no magnetic signature (wells where the steel well casing had been removed), the team monitored for anomalous concentrations of methane, which could indicate migration of volatile compounds from deeper sedimentary strata along a well or fracture pathway. Methane measurements were obtained using the ALPIS DIfferential Absorption Lidar (DIAL) sensor for helicopter surveys and the Apogee leak detection system (LDS) for ground surveys. These methods were evaluated at a 100-year-old oilfield in Wyoming, where a helicopter magnetic survey accurately located 93% of visible wells. In addition, 20% of the wells found by the survey were previously unknown or inaccurately located. This study found helicopter magnetic surveys to be an accurate, cost- and time-effective means to locate steel-cased wells in large areas, and is a first step in evaluating whether well detection techniques can be applied effectively for well location screening across broad geographic areas.},
doi = {10.2172/1330218},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Thu Jun 16 00:00:00 EDT 2016},
month = {Thu Jun 16 00:00:00 EDT 2016}
}

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