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Webinar | Drones for Orphan Wells: Applying Modern Solutions to a Century Old Problem

09-13-2023 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm EDT


Join us on September 13, 2023 for a technical webinar regarding Drones for Orphan Wells: Applying Modern Solutions to a Century Old Problem.


Oil, brine, and methane (a potent greenhouse gas), can leak from the estimated 3 to 4 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the U.S. and Canada, including an estimated 900,000 orphan wells in the U.S. With the first oil and gas wells installed in the mid-19th century, there is often little to no documentation available and no visible indications of a well at the surface. An accurate and efficient approach to locating abandoned wells is needed to ensure wells are properly plugged and do not present a risk to people or the environment.


Parsons developed a multi-faceted, multi-sensor unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) approach to locate abandoned well boreholes and map surface terrain data. A pilot study was conducted on a group of historically abandoned oil wells. Many of the wells detected would traditionally be difficult to locate with conventional means of ground-based magnetometry/metal detection as the casing had been harvested far below ground surface.

Results/Lessons Learned

Aerial magnetometry was demonstrated in the pilot study to be an accurate method to detect previously abandoned and unidentified well bores even when the well casing had been removed to several hundred feet bgs. Aerial Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is an efficient technology to capture terrain data for use in access, permitting, and construction activities to reduce the land impacts during re-plugging and remediation activities. Together, these tools can be utilized to increase the efficiency of well location, reducing the time required in the field, and locating wells that otherwise may not be found.


– Ron Krawczyk: Ron has 17 years of oil and gas experience with Parsons including plugging and abandonment operations of early-era wells, risk analysis, bioremediation, hydrogeological investigations, remediation systems, permitting, and contractor/safety management. Ron holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Saginaw Valley State University.

– Sam Kirmis: Sam has 5 years of experience on geophysical projects. He primarily supports military munitions response program (MMRP) sites with detection, classification, and removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO).  He also has experience with drone magnetometer, ground‑penetrating radar, and electro‑magnetic surveys locating orphaned wells, subsurface utilities, and anomalies in concrete. Sam holds a Bachelor of Science in Geology from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls.

To Join The Webinar

Click here to join the meeting

Or call in (audio only)

+1 951-465-7634, 143 487 701#

Learn More

Please visit the Parsons YouTube channel where video recordings of our previous technical webinars are available for viewing. The use of drones is taking off—and for good reason. The range, stability, and precision of drones—also called Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS)—are a boon to all industries benefiting from remote sensing technologies. Drone mounted sensors help save time, cut costs, and improve safety, especially during inspections. Moreover, sUAS capture imagery and other types of data are invaluable to design, planning, and project management. Learn more about how we use drones here.


12:30 pm - 1:30 pm EDT
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