November 3, 2021
LOS ANGELES -- In northern Los Angeles County, near the city of Santa Clarita, 56 wells and attendant facilities at the Placerita Oil Field are set to be properly plugged and abandoned this fall under the close eye and direction of the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM).
Designated as non-compliant since 2016 and presumed to be orphaned, the 56 Caltico and Century Oil wells have no viable operator to manage or maintain the sites. Therefore, CalGEM is stepping in to move forward the process of plugging and abandoning these wells, based on multiple risk factors, including proximity to residences and groundwater.
“This state abandonment project, the single-largest project in the Division’s history, underscores CalGEM’s commitment to its mission to protect public health and the environment,” said State Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk. “The proper plugging and abandonment of these wells protects against future environmental harm and reduces the state’s future liability posed by the continued existence of the orphan wells.”
Several of the 56 wells planned for plugging and abandonment had been improperly abandoned with unsecured storage tanks, posing a potential danger to the shallow groundwater, because they have not been tested for years. Excessive trash and debris at the site also pose a fire, driving, and walking hazard, as well as a public nuisance. The site remediation will include well abandonment, pipeline removal, and associated facilities decommissioning.
Ntuk officially issued a plug and abandonment order for these wells on June 26, 2020.
Facilities clean up and preparation of the well access began September 2021. The project is expected to conclude in early 2022 and is estimated to cost $3.3 million, which will be drawn from the State’s Hazardous Idle-Deserted Well Abatement Fund (HIDWAF) and the Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Administrative Fund.