Dept. of Interior: Abandoned wells in Gulf must be plugged
The Obama administration says it will require oil and gas companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico to plug nearly 3,500 nonproducing wells and dismantle about 650 production platforms that are no longer used.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said a formal notice issued Wednesday would make energy production in the Gulf safer and prevent potentially catastrophic leaks at wells that in some cases have been abandoned for decades.
More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lurk beneath the Gulf of Mexico, and more than 1,000 oil rigs and platforms sit idle. An Associated Press investigation showed that many of the wells have been ignored for decades, with no one checking for leaks.
The order requires wells that been inactive for the past five years to be plugged.