Protecting Our Country's Resources: the States' Case (2008)

Protecting our country's resources: the states' case (2008). The IOGCC has been studying orphan wells and the costs and regulations associated with managing these wells since 1992. Over the years, states have been the leaders in implementing innovative programs related to orphan well management. Most oil and gas producing states have established plugging funds derived from taxes on production, fees or other assessments to plug orphan wells. However, while states have established plugging funds, those funds are insufficient to address timely cleanup of the remaining orphan wells. Therefore, it’s essential to establish innovative programs to plug existing orphan wells.


Published in 2008, Protecting Our Country's Resources: the States' Case, was performed as a part of Cooperative Agreement DE-FC-26-06NT15567 with the Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory. Research was undertaken as part of a larger effort to assist state governments in the effective, efficient, and environmentally sound regulation of the exploration and production of natural gas and crude oil.


In general, states should be commended for their efforts, both in finding and remediating orphan wells. The states have also set up regulatory structures that require adequate bonding or insurance coverage to prevent the likelihood of the unfunded liability of orphan wells in the future.


It must, however, be noted that while states have established plugging funds, those funds are insufficient to address timely cleanup of the remaining orphan wells. Therefore, it's essential to establish innovative programs to plug existing orphan wells.

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