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The grant was announced earlier in October. Amber Krummel, an assistant professor of chemistry at CSU and the principal investigator for the grant-funded study, says when oil wells are abandoned, the rock around them sometimes retains 70 percent of the original petroleum.

Usually, wells are abandoned because they no longer produce oil or gas at economically viable rates.

Krummel says understanding the science could open new ways to revitalize wells and minimize environmental impacts.