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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Federal Well Abandonment Process (20-FD-a)

A geothermal lessee/operator is required to promptly plug and abandon geothermal wells that are no longer in use or demonstrated to be potentially useful. If the BLM determines that a well is no

longer needed for geothermal resource production, injection, or monitoring, or if it is determined that the well is not mechanically sound, BLM may order the operator to abandon the well. If the lessee/operator disagrees they may request,with justification, why the well should not be abandoned.

Wells may be permanently abandoned, temporary abandoned, or suspended in accordance with Geothermal Resources Operating Order No. 3, Plugging and Abandonment of wells.

Well Abandonment Process Process

20-FD-a.1 - Does the well require immediate action?

If the well has experienced reservoir, drilling or mechanical integrity problems that can not be repaired, it may be necessary to request verbal approval to plug the well. The lessee/operator should contact the appropriate BLM Engineer to seek approval.

20-FD-a.2 - Request oral approval from BLM

BLM may orally approve plugging procedures for a well requiring immediate action. The operator will discuss the abandonment operations with the BLM Endineer to receive concurrence prior to approval. When an oral plugging order is received, the lessee/operator must submit a Sundry Notice within 48 hours after oral approval is given. (43 CFR § 3263.11).

20-FD-a.3 - Oral approval

Plugging operations can begin upon verbal approval by BLM.

20-FD-a.4 and 20-FD-a.5 - Submit Sundry Notice (Form 3260-3)

The following information is required to be submitted with the sundry Notice (43 CFR § 3263.11):

(a) All the information required in the well completion report, unless BLM already has that information;

(b) A detailed description of the proposed work, including:

  1. Type, depth, length, and interval of plugs;
  2. Methods you will use to verify the plugs (tagging, pressure testing, etc.);
  3. Weight and viscosity of mud that you will use in the uncemented portions;
  4. Perforating or removing casing; and
  5. Restoring the surface; and

(c) Any other information that BLM may require. (See 43 CFR § 3264.10).

Geothermal Sundry Notice Form

20-FD-a.6 - Review for compliance and completeness with plugging requirements

BLM will review the Sundry Notice, to make sure it is complete and is in compliance with the requirements of 43 CFR § 3200.4. If Sundry Notice is approved an approved copy will be sent.

20-FD-a.7 – Is the notice complete and in compliance?

The lessee/operator will be contacted if the Sundry Notice is not complete or if additional procedures are required. Lessee will be contacted contacted in writing and the review will be suspended until a revised Sundry Notice is received.

20-FD-a.8 - Sundry Notice approval

Abandonment operations are not authorized until the Sundry Notice is approved.

20-FD-a.9 - Notify BLM when operations will commence

The lessee/operator must notify the appropriate BLM office before plugging/abandonment operations can begin, see if BLM wishes to witness the operation.

20-FD-a.10 - Does BLM wish to witness? and 20-FD-a.11 - Witness operation

The BLM Engineer may wish to witness all or specific stages of the plugging operation. For example; to witness placement of plugs or placement of cement.

20-FD-a.12 - Conduct plugging or abandonment operation

Operator plugs the well as specified in the approved Sundry Notice. Any variations in the operations that are encountered during the operation must be reported to BLM for approval.

20-FD-a.13 - Submit well plugging or abandonment report

A well abandonment report must be submitted within 30 days after the well is abandoned. If the well site will be restored at a later date, the site reclamation report must be submitted within 30 days (see 20-FD-a.14) after completing site restoration.

The well abandonment report must contain:

(a) A complete chronology of all work done;

(b) A description of each plug, including:

  1. Type and amount of cement used;
  2. Depth that the drill pipe or tubing was run to set the plug;
  3. Depth to top of plug; and
  4. If the plug was verified, whether it was done by tagging or pressure testing; and

(c) A description of surface restoration procedures." (43 CFR § 3264.11).

20-FD-a.14 - Submit site reclamation report

You must remove all equipment an materials and restore the site according to the terms of your permit or other BLM approval.

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