Document Type

Capstone Project

Publication Date

Spring 5-26-2022


fossil fuel, oil and gas, legacy wells, abandoned wells, ventura county, california, environmental risks, historical record analysis, map analysis, policy and economic analysis, stevenson center


Innovators around the world are frantically searching for new green technologies to make our lives more sustainable and combat the climate crisis we are experiencing. But as we move away from fossil fuels, we must address the threats present in this industry’s legacy. The persistent extraction of oil and gas in Ventura County’s history has left over 4,000 plugged and abandoned wells and over 2,000 idle wells. “Plugged and abandoned” is a term used the describe wells that have been safely and successfully closed – meaning that they should no longer pose any danger to the land, air, and water. Unfortunately, this study found this is not the case. After completing an analysis of historical well records, approximately 40 percent of abandoned wells cannot be confirmed as properly plugged. These wells were abandoned before modern plugging standards, utilized insufficient materials, and/or have missing or incomplete abandonment records. To assess the possible risks these poorly abandoned wells pose for Ventura County communities, their geographic location in relation to environmental and social factors – water, air, hazards, agriculture, wildlife spaces, and environmental justice areas – is analyzed. Lastly, a discussion of the costs and benefits of possible cleanup efforts and recommendations on the management of federal, state, and local funds and policies is offered.