DEP Preparing To Plug The Next 198 Abandoned Conventional Oil & Gas Wells With Federal Funding

On December 1, Kurt Klapkowski, Acting DEP Deputy Secretary for Oil and Gas Management, reported the agency is preparing to plug the next 198 abandoned conventional oil and gas wells under the new federal Abandoned Well Plugging Program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

He made the comments to members of DEP’s Oil and Gas Technical Advisory Board at a December 1 meeting.

“We're working right now on an additional nine invitation for bid packages that will allocate around $12 million to plug another 158 additional abandoned and orphaned wells,” said Klapkowski.

He said those groups of wells are located in Armstrong, Clarion, Forest, McKean, Venango and Washington counties.

“We're also in conversations right now with the Department of Natural Conservation and Natural Resources about plugging around 40 orphaned wells in the Cornplanter State Forest [in Crawford, Forest and Warren counties]. And that we estimate will cost around $2.8 million,” said Klapkowski.

In October, DEP released the first five invitations to bid under the program to plug 79 abandoned conventional oil and gas wells in Allegheny, Butler, McKean and Potter counties.  Read more here.

“We got multiple bids for each of those projects, which I was happy to see. Interestingly, the bids came in overall a little bit lower than we expected," he said.

The average cost per well came in at just over $73,400 for a total cost of $5.8 million. DEP's original estimate for the cost was around $68,000 per well.

These projects will use up about $20.6 million of the first $22.5 million in federal well plugging funds received by DEP.  Plugging projects are being developed to obligate the remainder of the funding.

Over the next 15 years, DEP is expected to receive approximately $395 million from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug oil and gas wells abandoned by conventional drillers.  Read more here.

Visit DEP’s Federal Conventional Well Plugging webpage for more information.

New Well Abandonments Accelerating

Meanwhile the pace of new conventional oil and gas well abandonments have been accelerating in 2022.

Through the end of September, DEP issued a total of 322 notices of violation to  conventional operators for abandoning wells without plugging them and 32 NOVs to unconventional shale gas operators for a total of 354 wells.  Read more here.

On November 3, the General Assembly passed and Gov. Wolf signed another bill that failed to address the woefully inadequate conventional oil and gas well bonding program that could help prevent new well abandonments.  Read more here.

Conventional Compliance Report

On July 30, Gov. Wolf directed the Department of Environmental Protection to conduct an evaluation of how it regulates conventional oil and gas wells to prevent new abandoned wells, tighten review of permit transfers, review compliance with environmental safeguards and make recommendations for changes and actions, including criminal sanctions. Read more here.

The evaluation was outlined by Gov. Wolf in a formal statement published in the July 30 PA Bulletin and came in the wake of the Governor allowing House Bill 2644 to become law without his signature.  Read more here.

As of December 1, that report has not been released.

Related Articles:

-- DEP Posts First Invitation For Bids For Plugging 79 Conventional Natural Gas Wells In Allegheny, Butler, McKean, Potter Counties Under Federally-Funded Program  [PaEN]

-- DEP Issued NOVs To Conventional Oil & Gas Companies For Abandoning 55 Wells Without Plugging Them During September Alone, A Dramatic Increase In New Well Abandonments  [PaEN]

-- Gov. Wolf Signs Bill Creating Well Plugging Grant Program; Again Fails To Address Woefully Inadequate Conventional Well Plugging Bonding; Fails To Report On Bonding Petitions; Or Issue Conventional Drilling Compliance Report [PaEN]

-- DEP: Wastes Generated By The New Conventional Oil & Gas Well Plugging Program Will NOT Be Exempt From Hazardous Waste Regulations, Unlike Wastes From Active Wells   [PaEN]

-- DEP To Prohibit Conventional Oil & Gas Drillers With Unresolved Environmental Violations From Getting Conventional Well Plugging Contracts; 133 Companies Interested In Doing Well Plugging Work  [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

-- AG Shapiro: Coterra Energy, Formerly Cabot Oil & Gas, Pleads No Contest To 15 Criminal Charges Related To Polluting Water Supplies In Dimock, Susquehanna County  [PaEN]

-- DEP Has Ordered A ‘Top To Bottom Review’ Of How It Regulates Underground Natural Gas Storage Areas As A Result Of The Equitrans Gas Leak In Cambria County In Nov.  [PaEN]

-- DEP: Schedule For Updating Conventional Oil & Gas Environmental, Waste Regulations Will Be Up To Gov. Shapiro  [PaEN]

-- EQB Overwhelmingly Approves Emergency Regulation Setting VOC/Methane Limits For Conventional Oil & Gas Facilities; Republicans Vote Against  [PaEN]

-- Dramatic Video From Carnegie Mellon’s Project Breathe Shows Shell Ethane Plant In Beaver County Flaring Natural Gas Due To Malfunction  [PaEN]

-- Natural Resources Defense Council Blog: Rising Cost Of Pennsylvania’s Petrochemical Industry Subsidies - By Mark Szybist

DEP Public Notice Dashboards:

-- Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Weekly Compliance Dashboard - Nov. 26 To Dec. 2  [PaEN]

-- PA Oil & Gas Industrial Facilities: Permit Notices/Opportunities To Comment  [PaEN]

-- DEP Posted 80 Pages Of Permit-Related Notices In Dec. 3 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]

[Posted: December 1, 2022]


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