Group takes part in oil plugging operation

From Staff Reports

Members of the Venango PA Senior Environmental Corps took part in an oil well plugging operation at Oil Creek State Park.

Rob Greathouse of S&T Services guided the group through the process of plugging a well.

Members learned about the steps from verifying the exact location of the well casing, if any, to cleaning out the well bore and filling the bottom oil bearing layers with cement.

They learned that cleaning out an abandoned well can take between one and six weeks, and that 400 or more feet of cement may have to be pumped into the well to properly plug it.

Abandoned wells on public land that have no known owner are considered orphans by DEP, thus the group calls themselves Orphan Well Hunters.

Since 2004, the Venango PaSEC members have located more than 1,200 abandoned oil and gas wells on public land in the county. The data they collect is passed on to DEP for further investigation.

As funds become available, wells from the DEP list are plugged.

The current plugging operation is the result of a CFA Act 13 grant obtained by the Venango Conservation District. S&T Services was awarded the contract to plug 11 wells along the Gerard Hiking Trail of Oil Creek State Park to provide better safety for trail users.

People who are interested in joining the group on a well hunt may call 676-6435.