There are currently close to 4000 active oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Some located in water as deep or deeper than the Deepwater Horizon.
No Need for Oil Tankers
Estimates compiled from the raw data show 31,000 miles of pipe criss-cross the ocean floor to carry oil and gas from the wells to shore.
50,000 Wells Drilled in The GOM
Records show that over half of the 50,000 wells which have been drilled in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico have been abandoned. 23,500 of them are designated as permanently sealed (a process which costs as much as
$200,000 and takes up to 10 days.) Approximately 3,500 of the wells are considered “temporarily abandoned,” a cheaper process and a classification which could be maintained indefinitely by the company simply filing an annual plan of intent. The Obama administration ordered on September 15, 2010 that these temporarily abandoned wells be permanently sealed. The oldest of the abandoned wells investigated by the AP date back to the 1940s.
According to petroleum engineers, several factors can cause abandoned wells to leak or fail, including erosion or aging in the cement used to plug the wells and repressurization of wells due to changes in geological conditions. Erosion in well casing or other areas of the well structure can allow oil and gas to escape to the surface. This can occur gradually or in a sudden catastrophic blowout.
About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s—even though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures, the AP reports.
PIPELINE AND PLATFORM DATA BUREAU OF OCEAN ENERGY MANAGEMENT