U.A.V. Technology Boosts Well Closure Efforts in Arizona

Apr 29, 2024

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), better known as drones, are taking Arizona’s Orphaned Well Program to new heights.

As part of a plan to rid the state of legacy-related hazards, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) contracted a group of technical consulting firms to locate abandoned wells across dozens of sites.

The process involves attaching magnetometers, or sensors that can detect changes in the earth’s magnetic field, to remote-controlled UAVs. Once airborne, the unmanned aerial system reads magnetic signatures produced by metal casings of oil and gas wells.

Project teams conduct drone passes at high speeds over large areas to help inform traditional, ground-based studies, increasing the coverage and efficiency of well detection efforts. This approach also allows the ADEQ to expend the time and resources typically required of manual surveys elsewhere.

Arizona’s aerial reconnaissance activities mark a significant step forward for well abandonment efforts. The experience led Atlas to invest in its own UAV equipment, including a blue-listed, American-made Inspired Flight IF1200a drone and a Geometrics MagArrow II UAV Magnetometer.

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