Orphan Well Update October 2023


Oct 12, 2023

New Funding

In July, the Department of the Interior (DOI) announced the availability of grants for plugging and cleaning up abandoned wells totaling nearly $660 million. Through this grant program, 26 states will be eligible to apply for funding, with an application deadline for Phase I of December 31, 2023. This funding adds to the $560 million initially allocated for orphan well mitigation in August 2022, which has helped states seal more than 5,000 wells.


Pennsylvania, one of the oldest oil and gas regions in the country, is gaining ground on its 2023 goal of plugging 235 orphan wells. Pennsylvania is home to thousands of orphan wells, many from before oil and gas producers kept reliable records. Governor Josh Shapiro recently emphasized how Pennsylvania is prioritizing the plugging of abandoned wells, with 100 wells sealed by Labor Day and rapid acceleration in well sealing expected in the days ahead.


Ohio launched a website for reporting suspected orphan wells, allowing the public to assist in efforts to locate and identify undocumented wells. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is also using low-flying drones equipped with magnetometers to detect orphan wells.


So far this year, Colorado has spent $10.2 million plugging 61 orphan wells. This is more than the state has spent on plugging wells in the past 28 years, thanks in large part due to federal funding from the bipartisan infrastructure bill. However, despite this progress the number of orphan wells in the state continues to grow. This rise is driven by two main factors: operators who are leaving the state because it no longer makes economic sense to operate in Colorado and unearthing of old, abandoned wells by landowners and developers looking to build on former oil and gas sites. Colorado’s orphan wells program doubled its headcount in 2023 and is looking to add an additional staffer to manage the rise in orphan wells in the state.

													 Orphan Well Table

Leaky Wells

While sealing many orphan wells is straightforward and efficient, for wells suffering from sustained casing pressure/vent flow and gas migration, costs can quickly balloon. Ensuring wells are sealed as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible is paramount to managing the backlog of orphan wells. BioSqueeze provides the most effective solution for sealing this "problem wells", having sealed some of the most difficult wells across North America.

Have a well you'd like us to take a look at? Fill out the form below and our team will conduct a wholistic evaluation of the well and recommend next steps to eliminate the leak free of charge.
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