"The Obama administration said Wednesday it will require oil and gas companies operating in the Gulf of Mexico to plug nearly 3,500 nonproducing wells and dismantle about 650 production platforms that are no longer used.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said a formal notice to leaseholders should make energy production in the Gulf safer and prevent potentially catastrophic leaks at wells that in some cases have been abandoned for decades.
Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and other officials said the initiative was under consideration long before the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers and led to the spill of more than 200 million gallons of oil from an undersea well.
More than 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells lie beneath the Gulf of Mexico, and more than 1,200 oil rigs and platforms sit idle. An Associated Press investigation showed that many of the wells have been ignored for decades, with no one checking for leaks."
Matthew Daly reports for the Associated Press September 15, 2010.