I must respond to Sen. Bob Hensgens' letter to the editor of June 5 regarding Louisiana obtaining permission from the federal government to advance carbon capture and sequestration projects.
I disagree that the state is competent to permit injection wells for CCS projects. My experience relevant to the topic includes degrees in mechanical and petroleum engineering from LSU and 32 years of oilfield experience.
In 2022, I was a member of the Oilfield Site Restoration Commission. Hensgens’ Vermilion Parish currently has 47 orphaned wells that were permitted by the state. After an oil company goes bankrupt, ownership of the well reverts to the state.
Just last year, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources plugged a single orphaned saltwater injection well at Freshwater City in Vermilion Parish -- very near the site of ExxonMobil’s new CCS project just southeast of Pecan Island -- at a public money cost of over $900,000. There is no real public oversight or accountability regarding the administration and plugging of orphaned wells, as this boondoggle illustrates. It is truly the Wild West.
There are over 4,200 orphaned wells in Louisiana. These were all permitted by the Department of Natural Resources. Until the LDNR and the Louisiana Legislature deal with the problem they created, the federal government should be in control of permitting any injection wells associated with CCS.
Additionally, the citizens should take the need for oversight into account in electing competent representatives.