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New API Standard Will Help Ensure Wells are Sealed Safely

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WASHINGTON, June 7, 2021 – The American Petroleum Institute (API) today published a new standard to address the closure and remediation of natural gas and oil wells to enhance safety, sustainability and environmental stewardship. 

“This standard represents the industry’s ongoing commitment to properly decommissioning and sealing wells after they’ve served their useful life, to protect the environment and surrounding communities,” Senior Vice President for Global Industry Services Debra Phillips said. “RP 65-3 builds upon strong API standards already in place for proper well execution and provides expanded guidance for companies to ensure safety throughout this important end of life stage of industry operations.” 

The first edition of API Recommended Practice (RP) 65-3, Wellbore Plugging and Abandonment, provides guidance for the design, placement and verification of cement plugs used in wells that will be temporarily or permanently closed. The standard also provides guidance for well remediation and verification of annular barriers, reinforcing groundwater protection and emissions retention. RP 65-3 joins several established API standards already in use for other life stages of safe well execution, including API 51R, Environmental Protection for Onshore Oil and Gas Production Operations and Leases and API 65-2, Isolating Potential Flow Zones During Well Construction.

API continuously updates industry standards to reflect changes in technologies, in-field learning, policy and regulatory requirements. Due to their rigor, effectiveness and reliability, API standards are often referenced in state and federal safety and environmental protection regulations. Well termination, sealing and remediation operations exist across jurisdictions and geographies—both onshore and offshore. RP 65-3 provides an opportunity to create consistency across state and local platforms, enhancing safety and environmental stewardship across jurisdictions. 

“RP 65-3 upholds state and regional environmental goals, while also supporting federal policy objectives included in the administration’s latest infrastructure plan to plug orphan wells,” API Senior Vice President of Policy, Economics and Regulatory Affairs Frank Macchiarola said. “This standard is an essential part of meeting safety and environmental targets and builds upon our industry’s commitment to address the risks of climate change and further reduce methane and other GHG emissions from operations.”

To help drive progress toward environmental goals, RP 65-3 implementation enhances industry clean water efforts to protect aquifers and prevent contamination, ultimately supplementing industry contributions to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal 6, to ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all. Additionally, RP 65-3 helps to reduce the risks of climate change as properly sealed wells do not release methane and GHG emissions.

For more information on RP 65-3, please visit the API website at

API represents all segments of America’s natural gas and oil industry, which supports more than ten million U.S. jobs and is backed by a growing grassroots movement of millions of Americans. Our 600 members produce, process and distribute the majority of the nation’s energy, and participate in API Energy Excellence®, which is accelerating environmental and safety progress by fostering new technologies and transparent reporting. API was formed in 1919 as a standards-setting organization and has developed more than 700 standards to enhance operational and environmental safety, efficiency and sustainability.

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