State orders companies to plug more than 1,000 abandoned oil, gas wells
State environmental officials have ordered three companies to plug more than 1,000 abandoned oil and gas wells.
Wells in Pennsylvania are considered abandoned when they have been inactive for more than a year. Left unattended, they can pose safety hazards or leak and contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Operators sometimes stop operating wells for various reasons, such as when a well fails to produce enough oil or gas to make a profit. Companies may choose to turn an inactive well back on again within the year.
If they don’t, as was the case with the 1,058 wells identified Wednesday by the DEP, the state can order the companies to shut the wells off for good.
“There’s between 100,000 and more than 500,000 of these orphaned and abandoned wells,” DEP spokesperson Neil Shader said. “We want to make sure we’re not adding to that number at all.”
The department estimates it costs between $10,000 to $100,000 to plug a well.
The department flagged Alliance, a subsidiary of Diversified Gas and Oil, with the most abandoned wells at 638. Diversified purchased a number of inactive wells in Pennsylvania this year, and sees potential in turning them back on, according to a statement from the company.