To those with limited knowledge of the oil industry, it can be easy to assume that a producing oil well will continue to produce indefinitely. While more targeted drilling sites and improved oil recovery techniques are making each well more efficient, there will come a point at which the well fails to produce enough to be worthwhile.
When an oil well or field of multiple wells are permanently taken out of production, steps can be taken to restore the site to its pre-drilling state, a process usually known as oil field recovery or oil field reclamation.
An involved process
While it may sound as if a reclamation process only requires the removal of the rig and other mechanical components at the end of the production cycle, it is actually a much more involved process.
The goal of most oil field reclamation projects is to return the well site to its pre-drilling condition so that the land can again be utilized for its original purpose. For example, land that is cleared of trees or vegetation to enable drilling would be restored and replanted as part of a successful oil field reclamation project. Many oil field reclamation projects will require several months or even years to restore the land to its original state.
Typical steps required
Planning and executing a successful oil field reclamation process involves several steps, the first of which is done by submitting a reclamation plan along with the application for the drilling license. This plan will use information about the land in its pre-drilling state to direct the process of restoring the vegetation and landscaping when the drilling cycle has completed.
Another step in the process involves the material handling that will be needed to complete the reclamation process. The sites that were leveled to expedite the initial drilling process can require tons of fill and topsoil to restore the topography of the land. These materials may be acquired locally or brought in from new drilling sites that are just being developed. Once the topsoil is replaced, reseeding and reforestation efforts can begin through the use of native plant seeds and seedlings.
The last steps in the process are monitoring and certification performed by government regulators. The regulators monitor the reclamation project to ensure that it meets the approved plan on file over a period of time. Restoring the land through successful oil drilling reclamation projects is an important part of protecting the environment for future generations. To learn more, contact a company like Wrango USA.