InterAct Successfully Re-Abandons Becker Well

InterAct PMTI successfully managed the re-abandonment of the leaking Becker Well for the California State Lands Commission. Located in the surf zone of Summerland Beach in southern California, the Becker well was drilled in the late 1800s, and had been known to periodically leak small amounts of oil creating a nuisance for the Summerland beach community. Approximate 60 shore side wells in the area have been successfully re-abandoned but no wells in the surf zone and beyond, that are known to be leaking, had been successfully re-abandoned before now. 

The California State Lands Commission oversaw abandonment of the well with a budget of $1.4 million. InterAct was awarded the bid for the project, which included three phases – excavation and assessment, an engineering evaluation, and actual re-abandonment. InterAct successfully completed all three phases on time and under budget. Engineering, geological, and hydrological studies were conducted on the site including a bathymetric survey and coring samples. InterAct managed the extensive permitting and regulatory compliance effort required for the well abandonment, working with numerous regulatory agencies including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife, Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Santa Barbara Planning and Development, the Department of Gas and Geothermal Resources, and several environmental groups.

Although the Summerland offshore wells are considered shallow (between 300’ and 500’), and would be simple and relatively inexpensive to re-abandon in an onshore environment, the dynamic location of the Becker well – directly in the surf zone and subject to tides and wave action –greatly complicated the re-abandonment process. Due to the high risks and costs associated with the re-entry of a 100+ year old wellbore with no records of what may lie below the surface, InterAct’s abandonment plan eliminated the high risks/costs associated with the conventional wellbore re-entry and focused on the source of the leak path which was up the un-cemented casing annulus. InterAct Sr. Petroleum Engineer and project manager, Mike Giuliani, determined the most cost effective and efficient method to abandon the Becker Well was to drive pipe over the well into the bedrock creating a seal point. 

Abandonment operations began in late February with the mobilization of a barge from InterAct’s subcontractor, Curtin Martime. The barge was loaded with all necessary equipment to conduct the abandonment operations.  After cleaning-out the annulus between the wellbore and the pipe pile, it was filled with cement and a steel plate welded on top of the pipe pile to completely entomb the Becker #1 wellbore. The technical difficulties of the project were exacerbated by the tide cycles, imminent poor weather conditions, and the nature of working along a shoreline. Despite these conditions, InterAct successfully completed the project on time, under budget, and without incident.

View a video timeline of the Becker Well abandonment here

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