Downhole shallow gas well abandonment begins in south city parks

Medicine Hat – The City will begin urban abandonment activities on uneconomic gas wells in four city parks in the southwest and southeast quadrants of Medicine Hat next week.

The City has alerted the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) that downhole abandonment will begin the week of Jan. 10 at the following shallow gas well locations:

  • 100/04-17-012-05W4/00 – Southlands (Somerset Park)
  • 100/06-17-012-05W4/00 – Southlands (Chartwell Park)
  • 100/10-18-012-05W4/00 – Hamptons (Spruce Park)
  • 100/15-13-012-06W4/00 – Saamis Heights (Saamis Rotary Park)

Routine downhole abandonments take approximately three to five hours per site, depending on the complexity and condition of the wellbore. Total downhole abandonment activity at these four locations should conclude within approximately three days.

Once these downhole operations are complete, the wells will be permanently sealed. The surface equipment will be removed at a later date using different equipment.

“These specific wells were scheduled to be addressed in the winter when the parks have less visitors and activities,” said Ken Wright, Supervisor of Gas Production Completions and Abandonment. “Safety is our top priority, so if we can minimize the number of people around when this large equipment is on site, we all feel more comfortable. Being able to conduct these operations while the ground is frozen also minimizes any potential damage to the parks. Once the surface equipment is removed, the site will be reclaimed to its natural state with the exception of a surface level covering (like a manhole) to allow future access to the well if needed.”

During the downhole abandonment activity, residents may notice large equipment such as coil tubing units, pressure trucks, and three-quarter-ton service trucks at the site.

Brad Maynes, Managing Director of Energy and Infrastructure, notes that abandonment activities may be of public interest when being conducted within corporate city limits. “While we acknowledge this type of work and the necessary equipment is something that the public doesn’t often have a chance to see, we need to stress the importance of staying clear of the worksite. These are industrial operations with heavy machinery and public safety is paramount. The public’s cooperation and patience is much appreciated.”

A temporary fence will be erected around each wellsite. Parking, roadway and trail restrictions may occur for short duration in order for the equipment to access and maneuver around the park areas. The public is asked to observe a safe distance from the worksite and obey all signage, barriers and personnel.

“Aside from the noticeable presence of large equipment, residents may also notice a temporary increase in odors, emissions and noise during this time,” adds Wright. “Any emissions and odors during the abandonment activity will be managed by qualified site personnel and shall comply with provincial Ambient Air Quality Guidelines.”

While this work presents no anticipated danger to residents aside from proximity to heavy equipment, the City of Medicine Hat has a corporate emergency response plan to maximize public safety. Safety personnel will oversee next week’s activities on site. 

The City has approximately 3,500 licensed wells. Abandonment activities have occurred on approximately 2,400 wells with environmental work ongoing. Approximately 450 wells are inactive and planned for abandonment. Between 650 and 700 gas and oil wells remain in operation.

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