Photo by Paul Goyette (Flickr Creative Commons)

An Associated Press investigation has uncovered the shocking fact that over 27,000 abandoned oil wells lie insufficiently guarded or unmonitored in the Gulf of Mexico. 600 of them are BP wells.

The oldest of these oil wells was abandoned in the late 1940s and 3,500 of the wells are officially categorized as ‘temporarily abandoned’, raising questions about whether they are properly sealed.

From an AP report:

Regulations for temporarily abandoned wells require oil companies to present plans to reuse or permanently plug such wells within a year, but the AP found that the rule is routinely circumvented, and that more than 1,000 wells have lingered in that unfinished condition for more than a decade. About three-quarters of temporarily abandoned wells have been left in that status for more than a year, and many since the 1950s and 1960s — even though sealing procedures for temporary abandonment are not as stringent as those for permanent closures.

When BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig blew on April 20th, it too was in the process of being sealed for temporary abandonment.

Read more about this story in the Guardian article: Abandoned oil wells make Gulf of Mexico ‘environmental minefield’

Watch the video report from AP below.

AP Impact: Gulf Awash in 27,000 Abandoned Wells