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Van Hook, Kevin1, Bob Kent2 
(1) Geomatrix Consultants, Inc, Houston, TX 
(2) Geomatrix Consultants, Inc, Costa Mesa, CA

ABSTRACT: Urban Redevelopment of Oilfields - Problems and Solutions

Urban sprawl in many major metropolitan areas has pushed corporate limits onto property that was once never imagined as a site for future development. The push for new residential and commercial developments has created a demand for expanding onto depleted oil and gas properties and where the value of the land surface far exceeds the revenue potential from the residual petroleum production or reserves. Along with this demand for redevelopment of oilfields come significant environmental concerns that must be addressed and mitigated for the development to succeed and for oil and gas companies to minimize the future risk and liability for human health concerns. This need has become particularly acute given several prominent lawsuits over the last several years involving environmental impacts and potential human health impairment in cities like Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, California. In this paper, we review historical oilfield practices and operations and the unique problems they present to urban redevelopment of oilfields. We look at some of these problems (e.g,. methane and hydrogen sulfide gas seepage into buildings, improperly closed pits, land subsidence) and the regulatory framework for mitigation and remediation efforts. This discussion also includes a review of the most significant regulatory hurdles to redevelopment on both the federal, state, and local level, as well as in tort law. We present a strategy that has been used successfully for addressing environmental issues during the redevelopment process. Finally, several case studies are discussed to show how urban redevelopment projects have been successfully completed following this strategy.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90026©2004 AAPG Annual Meeting, Dallas, Texas, April 18-21, 2004.