Here to Help


Jan 25, 2023

Orphaned Wells Program Office

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) became law in November 2021, authorizing $4.7 billion in funding for plugging, remediating, and reclaiming orphaned oil and gas wells as part of national methane reduction plans. The majority of the funding, administered by the Department of the Interior (DOI), is intended for state grants in three categories: Initial, Formula, and Performance.

Improvised Implementation

Under tight initial deadlines, DOI personnel issued state grants and rapidly funded projects on public lands. However, the complexities of developing guidelines and processes for grant programs, soliciting applications, reviewing documentation, managing fund disbursement, and coordinating with states and other government entities require dedicated staff and policies.

"The Department is standing up a new office to support states, tribes and federal land managers as they close and remediate orphaned oil and gas wells that pose environmental hazards to communities across the country," said Deb Haaland, DOI Secretary.

There may be more than 130.000 orphaned U.S. wells, based on the DOI 2022 analysis.

Program Management

On January 10, 2023, the DOI established the Orphaned Wells Program Office to handle the BIL funding and communications. Dedicated staff will administer BIL programs for states, Tribes, and federal lands.

The $4.7 billion is divided by program type:

  • $4.3 billion - to plug orphaned wells on state and private lands 
  • $250 million - to cap orphaned wells on public lands (national parks & forests and wildlife refuges)
  • $150 million - to cap orphaned wells on Tribal lands  

Current Funding

2023 allocations – An initial $33 million to clean up 277 orphaned wells public lands, $560 million in initial state grants for well plugging infrastructure and high-priority wells, and $50 million to address orphaned wells on Tribal lands.

The new Orphaned Wells Program Office will help meet U.S. Methane Emissions Reduction Action Plan goals through rapid, effective well plugging and remediation, and help economic revitalization through employment opportunities in energy-producing areas.