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NPR-A Legacy Wells Program

Current Status

The BLM is preparing to solicit for services to support the remediation of the NPR-A legacy wells. Learn more here>


 Summer 2015

BLM Completes Surface Clean-Up at Cape Simpson Legacy Wells Sites

BLM Alaska completed the removal of surface debris at three legacy well sites at Cape Simpson in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) in August 2015. 

The work was done through an interagency agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which contracted with Alaska-owned Mahto Construction, Inc. Surface debris removal and soil sampling occurred at Simpson Core Test 26, 30, and 30A. 

Bentonite clay, concrete, oily debris, drums, wood, and scrap metal was collected at the three sites.  A total of 135 cubic yards of debris was removed by slinging gathered waste in bulk bags and cargo nets with a helicopter.  The waste was then air lifted to an adjacent tug and barge for off-site transportation and disposal. Because some of the debris was located in a natural oil seep, crews had to use winches, non-sparking axes, power tools, chest waders and even a canoe for gathering debris from within the seep.

Field crew removing debris from the natural oil seep at Test Well Site 30/30A

Field crew preparing to collect a soil sample near the natural oil seep at Test Well Site 26

Oily waste debris removed from the Test Well 30 natural oil seep is staged for containerization and helicopter airlift from the site.

Field crew removing debris from the natural oil seep at Test Well Site 30/30A

Field crew preparing to collect a soil sample near the natural oil seep at Test Well Site 26Oily waste debris removed from the Test Well 30 natural oil seep is staged for containerization and helicopter airlift from the site.

Spring 2015

BLM Completes Plugging of Legacy Wells at Umiat

BLM Alaska completed plugging of three legacy wells and removal of wellheads from three additional legacy wells at Umiat in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPR-A) in April 2015.

Umiat Wells 1, 3, and 11 were plugged and wellheads removed. In addition, wellheads were removed at Umiat Wells 4, 8, and 10, which had been plugged previously. All well casings were cut off below ground level and buried beneath a mound of gravel and soil. All six wells had been drilled by the U.S. Navy from the mid-1940s to the early 1950s.

Umiat Well #1 Work CampPlugging of Umiat #1 took place within a heated space under the black tarp on the leftPlugging of Umiat #1 took place within a heated space under the black tarp on the left
Umiat Well #1 Work Camp/BLM Photo Rob BrumbaughPlugging of Umiat #1 took place within a heated space under the black tarp on the left/BLM Photo Rob Brumbaugh
Dozens of large bags of cement were used to plug the wells

Umiat #10 legacy well head

Dozens of large bags of cement were used to plug the wells/ BLM Photo Rob BrumbaughUmiat #10 was excavated for removal of the wellhead/BLM Photo Rob Brumbaugh.

Excavation of Umiat #10 before removal of the wellhead Video Clip by BLM Zach Lyons

FACTS

Did you know?

  • BLM received $50 million through the Helium Stewardship Act of 2013 for remediation, reclamation and closing of abandoned oil wells in NPR-A. These funds will allow the BLM to address high-priority wells and nearby lower priority wells.
  • The BLM has developed a strategic plan which identified the actions necessary for closing all legacy wells in the NPR-A.
  • Since 2002 the federal government has plugged 21 wells and cleaned up the surface at priority legacy well sites at a cost of $99 million.