Abandoned Gas Wells as a Bugout Location

   05.07.18

Abandoned Gas Wells as a Bugout Location

Spread throughout the United States are thousands, maybe even tens of thousands, of abandoned gas and oil wells. Companies drill a well, pump out whatever they can, and when the well is no longer profitable, they abandon it.

However, there are numerous regulations on abandoned wells.

Decades ago it seemed companies would put a large valve on top of the well pipe, sometimes called a wellhead. Anyone with a large wrench could take the blinds off of the valve and open it.

Here in Texas, when a well is abandoned it is plugged with concrete. This makes sure there is no chance of an accident. This also eliminates the chance of someone tampering with the valve on top of the well.

A lot of abandoned gas and oil wells are in rural areas, and off the beaten path.

So what does this leave us with?

  • An area sometimes 100 yards wide.
  • Level ground.
  • Remote location.
  • Accessible by truck or ATV.
  • Sometimes wells have access to surface water.

If someone had a camper trailer, this could possibly be an ideal bug out location post collapse.

A Foundation To Build On

One of the unique features these abandoned gas and oil wells has to offer is packed ground, which is sometimes covered with slag or green rock. Keep in mind, the oil companies did not have time to deal with equipment stuck in the mud. So they would haul dump truck loads of rock to the site. The rock was spread so equipment could drive on it.

Abandoned gas well area

What does this mean to survivalists?

It means this is a solid place where they can set up their tents, or pull an RV to. The site is large enough for several, maybe even dozens of RVs to park on. This provides the opportunity to start a community.

Nearby forests could provide lumber for stuff like a smokehouse, etc.

Remote Location

Some of these wells are in remote locations. They may take hours of driving to reach and may require a 4×4 truck or ATV to transverse the rough roads. Once the wells are abandoned, the roads are usually left to overgrow with only the occasional ATV to keep the path clear.

Typically, the rock that was brought in prevents the road from fully overgrowing.

All of this means isolation, which we talked about in the Lessons Learned from Outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague article. In the event of a complete collapse, city dwellers will eventually flee. The problem is, most people have nowhere to go.

Not Too Remote

Unless the location is a zillion miles from civilization, chances are someone will know about it.

Gate on rural road

Take these abandoned gas wells for example. Local teenagers may use these remote sites to do what teenagers do. There will typically be a place where a bonfire was held. One may find a bunch of shell casings from target shooting, or a bunch of shotgun shells from skeet shooting.

To prevent this type of behavior, the oil company may put a fence with a gate around the well. What would most teenagers do? Chances are they would cut the fence and drive around the gate.

I have seen this dozens of times on numerous wells. Teenagers will do teenager stuff. They just want a place to hang out and have fun where they will not be found.

Access to Water

Human life cannot exist without water. Thankfully, some of these wells were put in near creeks or streams. The oil company would pump water from the creek and use it during the drilling process.  Regulations prevent the used water from going back into the creek. We will talk about that in a minute.

Hiking along a creek

However, not all wells were put in near a water source.  So it may be hit and miss if there is water nearby.

Here in Southeast Texas, most of the abandoned gas and oil wells I know about are no more than a couple of hundred yards from a stream. The streams are too far for the oil company to use. These are typically natural springs which flow out of the side of a hill, or may be seasonal streams.

Some wells on the other hand are just a stones throw from a creek.

Storage Tanks

Since water used for drilling cannot be returned to the creek, it has to be held in storage tanks, loaded on a truck, and shipped off to be disposed of.

In some cases the storage tanks are left at the well site. These could provide lookout towers. Some of the wells I know about, the tanks have steps and a catwalk going to the top of them. Once on top of the tanks they provide a nice vantage point.

However, not all storage tanks have a catwalk or a way to get on top of them.

Solar Panels

If the locations are so remote, how does stuff like electronics get power? A lot of these wells have a solar panel.

Between the time when the well was abandoned and the time it was plugged, the oil company may keep sensors on the well head.

After the well was plugged and the equipment removed, the solar panels may have been left behind.

Final Thoughts

The bad thing: the survivalist would have to know where the well location is before SHTF. Then, would the location be accessible to an RV / camper trailer?

If someone is planning on bugging out with nothing more than a bugout bag, then the more remote the better.

So what does the reader think? In a complete collapse, would sites like this be a viable option?

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