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Abstract: Finding Abandoned Sumps, Tanks and Other Oil Facilities

SUGDEN, HAROLD, Consultant, Bakersfield, CA

As oil wells and facilities are abandoned and "cleaned up" in California, commercial and public buildings, recreational facilities, and houses are being constructed on some of those sites. The presence of abandoned wells, former production facilities, sumps, tanks, pipelines, natural seeps and other oil field artifacts are not always detected during a phase one environmental survey. Due diligence requires that these oilfield remnants be located and a determination made as to whether-or-not they pose a threat to the public, the environment, or the economic viability of a property.

One way to find potential problems is the examination of aerial photographs. The problem with aerials is that they are not always taken at the right time. The records and reports of the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources are needed to find abandoned wells and the limits of oil fields. United States Geological Survey topographic quadrangles sometimes show the locations of sumps, tanks and oil wells but may not be sufficiently accurate to locate them for environmental testing. Unfortunately, accurate records of the locations of buried sumps and facilities have not always been generated. Anecdotal information usually consists of arm waving, rough pacing and the lament that after the last merger the old facility maps and diagrams were thrown out. Natural oil and gas seeps, while well documented, can be difficult to locate precisely. The result is that the location of all abandoned facilities is not always possible.



AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90911©2000 AAPG Pacific Section and Western Region Society of Petroleum Engineers, Long Beach, California