Who Pays for Abandoned O&G Wells in PA?

Pennsylvania state officials estimate there are as many as 200,000 abandoned oil and gas wells in the state–the vast majority of them conventional wells drilled over 50 years ago. Most of them are not mapped or known. Some of them are hazards for shale drillers who stumble across them when drilling new wells. If you drill horizontally and clip an old/abandoned well, it becomes like an elevator pumping fluids and gas to the surface. Not good. Everyone is committed to finding and marking and capping these old wells–the question is, how do you pay for it? The shale industry says it’s not fair to put the economic burden solely on the shoulders of the Marcellus industry. The PA Environment Protection Agency (DEP) Abandoned and Orphan Well program attempts to find an owner of the well first, before committing public money to plug it. However, there’s a second way to get public money to plug an old well…

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