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California Well Abandonment Process (20-CA-a)

This flowchart illustrates the process for abandonment of geothermal wells in California. The California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources conducts the abandonment review process through a supervisor. Before conducting abandonment procedures, the developer must make every reasonable effort to protect any underground or surface water suitable for irrigation or domestic purposes from infiltration by any detrimental substances. Cal. Prc. Code sec. 3746.


Well Abandonment Process Process

20-CA-a.1 – Notice of Intent to Abandon

The developer must give written notice to the supervisor of their intention to abandon the well at least 10 days before abandonment procedures begin. The notice must explain the condition of the well and the proposed method of abandonment. Cal. Prc. Code sec. 3747.

20-CA-a.2 – Is the Proposal Approved?

The supervisor must provide the developer with a decision before the proposed date of commencing work to abandon. Supervisor will furnish either:

  • A written report of approval of the proposal;
  • A written report stating what work or tests will be necessary before approval of abandonment will be given; or
  • A written request stating what information will be necessary for the owner or operator to furnish the supervisor of the district deputy before approval to commence work to abandon or before approval of abandonment will be given. Cal. Prc. Code sec. 3748.

If the supervisor fails to provide a written decision on abandonment to the developer before abandonment is scheduled to begin, then the failure to do so will be considered approval. Cal. Prc. Code sec. 3749.

20-CA-a.3 – Conduct Abandonment Operations

The developer must conduct abandonment operations consistently with any requirements given by the supervisor.

20-CA-a.4 – Report of Abandonment Work

The developer must furnish a written report to the supervisor outlining all work done in connection with the abandonment. The written report must be provided to the supervisor within 60 days after completion of abandonment of any well. Cal. Prc. Code sec. 3750.

20-CA-a.5 – Is the Abandonment Approved?

The supervisor may approve or disapprove of the abandonment procedures utilized by the developer.

20-CA-a.6 – Final Approval of Abandonment

Within 10 days after the receipt of a written report of completion, the supervisor must provide the developer with a written final approval of abandonment or a written disapproval of abandonment.

20-CA-a.7 – Final Disapproval of Abandonment

Within 10 days after the receipt of a written report of completion, the supervisor must provide the developer with a written final approval of abandonment or a written disapproval of abandonment. If the supervisor disapproves of the abandonment, the written notice must explain the conditions on which the disapproval is based.

Grounds for abandonment disapproval include:

  • Failure to abandon in accordance with approved methods;
  • Failure to notify the supervisor of any test required by the final approval of abandonment to be witnessed by the supervisor; or
  • Failure to provide the supervisor, at his request, with any information regarding the condition of the well. Cal. Prc. Code sec. 3750.




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