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Home » Business News/Analysis, Opinions, Sustainability, Wyoming

Wyoming May Act to Plug Abandoned Wells as Natural Gas Boom Ends

Submitted by on January 6, 2014 – 12:19 pmNo Comment

by Dan Frosch (New York Times)  Hundreds of abandoned drilling wells dot eastern Wyoming like sagebrush, vestiges of a natural gas boom that has been drying up in recent years as prices have plummeted.  The companies that once operated the wells have all but vanished into the prairie, many seeking bankruptcy protection and unable to pay the cost of reclaiming the land they leased. Recent estimates have put the number of abandoned drilling operations in Wyoming at more than 1,200, and state officials said several thousand more might soon be orphaned by their operators.

Wyoming officials are now trying to address the problem amid concerns from landowners that the wells could contaminate groundwater and are a blight on the land.

The state’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission already budgets $1 million a year to plug abandoned wells. And under the governor’s proposal, the commission would appropriate another $3 million over the next four years in an effort to restore property value and reduce the risk of contamination.

The money would come from a conservation tax that oil and gas companies pay.

Still, given the number of wells already abandoned and the concern that more will soon be deserted, the money is not expected to go far. The state estimated that closing the 1,200 wells already abandoned would cost about $8 million.   READ MORE

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