Terra-Petra helps deveolper save millions with oil well remediation plan

Excavation equipment unearthing an identified oil wellTerra-Petra’s construction division was recently contacted to prepare an Oil Well History Report of 20 oil wells located on an 18 acre site in Huntington Beach, California. In accordance with the requirements of the Huntington Beach Fire Department, Terra-Petra’s team performed a “sniff test” on the oil well heads, then followed up with appropriate necessary re-abandonment activities in order to stop any leakage and contamination. 

Photo on right: Excavation equipment unearthing an identified oil well.

See more photo highlights below.

The scope of work began with surveying and staking the location of all 20 oil wells and providing excavation equipment and labor to uncover 15 of the abandoned wells while making them safe for entry. Dave Lucero, Terra-Petra’s Senior Project Scientist, was responsible for managing all excavation/backfilling operations and overseeing the entirety of field activities.

Dave also monitored all soil stockpiles for V.O.C. emissions and dust control per the requirements of the South Coast Air Quality Management District's Rule 1166.1. With Dave's extensive field experience and expert project oversight all oil wells were located, excavated, and exposed for sniff testing.

Larry Barnes, Terra-Petra’s Senior Geologist, took charge of conducting the sniff testing of each of the 15 excavated oil wells, 5 vented oil wells, and monitoring for fugitive gas emissions at each well head per the requirements of Huntington Beach Fire Department City Spec. 422 and the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).

As a California Licensed Petroleum Geologist, Larry’s duties included documenting the wells’ history, the casing and liners of the wells, the type of cement used to complete the well abandonments, preparing well diagrams, and recording information on all oil/gas zones. With this comprehensive information Larry was able to provide the developer with an ongoing Oil Well History Report for the Huntington Beach site. His expert knowledge in the geological field and long-standing relationship with the DOGGR facilitate the process of determining the level of safety for structures to be built over or near the wells and the corresponding safety recommendations.

After a careful review of all information obtained from field explorations and well documents obtained from the DOGGR, Terra-Petra came to a practical remediation plan contradictory to one which may have been reached simply by conforming to re-abandonment codes and procedures. Rather than disturbing the abandoned wells and replacing all cement plugs with costly drilling expenses, it was determined that a much more non-intrusive approach would be more than adequate for preventing any future leaks and site contamination. This approach involved shortening all wells to a depth between 6 and 10 feet below grade, recapping each well head with a circular metal plate, and installing a methane mitigation vent cone at each well head. In convincing the governing agencies that is safer to leave the wells relatively undisturbed and proceeding with the aforementioned action plan, Terra-Petra has successfully saved the client millions of dollars on this notable development project.

With the combined expertise of the construction team Terra-Petra was able to meet the expedited construction schedule. The client is now prepared to proceed with the necessary gas mitigation measures for the safety of future site residents.

Photo highlights

An excavated trench revealing an abandoned oil well cap, 
















An excavated trench revealing an abandoned oil well cap.



 Terra-Petra excavation equipment compiling a soil stockpile near an abandoned oil well trench.


Terra-Petra excavation equipment compiling a soil stockpile near anabandoned oil well trench.

























Joe Morelli, Fire Protection Analyst of the HBDF, and Terra-Petra's Larry Barnes consulting near an abandoned oil well trench.

























A safe-to enter trench revealing the location of an oil well.
























An excavated cement well plug.