GAO slams failed oil and gas decommissioning

By Heather Richards | 02/20/2024 01:50 PM EST

Thousands of wells are past due for dismantling and decommissioning, the federal watchdog found.

Oil platforms.

Oil platforms are visible through the haze near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 16, 2023. LM Otero/AP

Oil and gas operators regularly delay decommissioning offshore platforms and wells, leaving idle enormous amounts of industry infrastructure in violation of federal rules, according to a pair of reports released Tuesday by Congress’ top watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office found that 2,700 wells and 500 platforms are past due for dismantling and decommissioning in the Gulf of Mexico, alone. It also found that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement — a branch of the Interior Department that regulates offshore energy development — is failing to enforce decommissioning deadlines.
found that 2,700 wells and 500 platforms

GAO recommended stronger enforcement — and potential congressional action.


In a separate report examining onshore oil and gas gathering pipelines, GAO also reported Tuesday that decommissioning the pipes that carry gas, oil and other hazardous materials from well heads to production facilities on public lands is also in need of changes. Those onshore lines face “insufficient bonding, data limitations, and ambiguous requirements,” the report said.
a separate report examining