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Oil or Gas Decommissioning/Reclamation Phase: Resource Requirements and Impact Sources

Decommissioning and reclamation activities include facility removal and revegetation.

Decommissioning of an oil or gas well would include the closure of production and injection wells and the removal of aboveground components. Following the removal of site components, the area would undergo site reclamation and revegetation to mitigate impacts, such as soil erosion and contamination, habitat fragmentation, and visual impacts.

Requirements and Impact Sources

  • Acreage – About the same amount of area disturbed during the development of the oil and gas field would be impacted by decommissioning and reclamation activities. Overall acreage of the oil or gas field would decrease as individual wells, pipelines, access roads, and other ancillary facilities are removed and the area is restored.
  • Emissions – Air emissions during decommissioning would be similar to those occurring during initial development, although existing for generally shorter periods of time. Dust would increase as a result of increased vehicle travel on unpaved access roads. Criteria pollutants would be generated from the operation of vehicles and construction equipment. Volatile organic chemicals would be released from the storage and dispensing of fuels for vehicles and equipment. Abandoned wells could release natural gas, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), particulate matter, sulfur compounds, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide.
  • Waste Generation – Sanitary wastes would be produced by work crews and solid and industrial wastes would result from removal of facility components. Much of the project components waste could be recycled rather than disposed of in waste landfills.
  • Water Needs – Water would be needed for dust suppression, fire-fighting contingency and potable supply for the workforce.
  • Workforce – Fewer workers would be required than during the development phase. About 10 workers would be needed for a 5-day period to remove equipment from a well pad site.
  • Time – The amount of time before permanent closure of a well and removal of facilities can be highly variable. Economic and technological developments are the primary influences. Site monitoring and maintenance activities may be required for several years to ensure that site reclamation goals have been achieved.
  • Utility Requirements – Utility requirements vary depending on location and action being conducted; use of portable electric generators is possible.