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Alabama Reaps Public Benefits from RBDMS

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Alabama Oil & Gas Board

The Alabama Oil & Gas Board (OGB) oversees 85 industry operators and almost 7,500 active wells. The OGB is responsible for enforcing numerous regulations designed to protect public resources, both financial and environmental. This includes tracking each well over its entire lifetime from permitting to plugging and everything in between. Every report submitted by an operator and each inspection completed by the OGB produces data points. If stored properly, these data points can tell stories about individual incidents or provide insights into patterns taking place over months, allowing the OGB to take action to protect public resources. If captured improperly or not at all, the data tells nothing.

The Solution

The OGB recognized this and installed RBDMS in the 1990s to track Underground Injection Control (UIC) data. Today, it also tracks wells, production, financial assurance, incidents, inspections and more. 

“RBDMS helps us do our job efficiently, completely and quickly. It’s easy with RBDMS to query wells by field, by unit, or by operator. A quick query allows us to ensure we are enforcing plugging requirements on time,” said Kirk McQuillan, OGB Deputy Director.

Saving Valuable Taxpayer Dollars

In Alabama, inactive wells are required to be plugged if they have not been completed (prepared for production or injection) within 30 days of drilling. Producing wells are required to be plugged if they have not produced for six months. These regulations ensure that the state doesn’t have to cover the cost of plugging the well with taxpayer dollars if the operator disappears or goes out of business. In addition, unmaintained wells can become a threat to public health and the environment. Collapsed casing can result in pollutants leaking up into groundwater that supplies drinking water to nearby homes and communities.

Sound Data for Sound Environmental Protection

RBDMS plays a direct role in protecting Alabama’s financial and environmental resources. A quick query in RBDMS returns a list of wells requiring plugging. It also provides information about how a well is constructed, which affects how it needs to be plugged. OGB staff can then easily follow up on the list instead of spending hours going through records to find wells requiring plugging.

“RBDMS helps us make sure that wells don’t slip through the cracks,” says McQuillan. “It is harder to miss something if you have good data and RBDMS gives us that.”