Governor Matt Mead is proposing an aggressive plan to accelerate plugging abandoned oil and gas wells. The Governor has recommended an additional $3 million in the budget as part of this ramped up effort over the next four years. There are about 1,220 abandoned wells on state and fee land in Wyoming.
"Energy production and environmental stewardship are inextricably connected. Plugging wells and reclaiming the land are expensive endeavors, but they are necessary to minimize disturbance to landowners and to safeguard our land, water and wildlife," Governor Mead said.
This plan calls on the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to hire a project manager to focus on the plugging effort. Other agencies involved include the Department of Environmental Quality, Office of State Lands and the State Engineer.
"Many of the wells that are currently idle will be taken care of by the private operator. We all appreciate the companies that are responsible and we can promote good performance," Governor Mead said. "My plan includes active monitoring so we can make adjustments as necessary. It also identifies steps to ensure wells are adequately bonded in the future and do not become the responsibility of the state."
Governor Mead's accelerated plan anticipates plugging at least 305 wells per year. The plan identifies other possible wells that might need to be plugged by the state and addresses them as well.
Additionally, the Governor recommends that the WOGCC review its bond requirements for oil and gas wells and review the Conservation Tax, which helps fund plugging and reclamation efforts. His plan also includes a recommendation that the WOGCC establish minimum standards for plugging and reclaiming orphaned wells.