One of, if not the most, widespread environmental and property rights disasters ever is now unfolding in West Virginia! WV-SORO needs your help to hold drillers responsible and keep this from happening.
There are currently more than 4,500 orphaned oil and gas wells that have gone unplugged for so long that the driller/operator has gone out of business and there is no one to plug it. A company called Diversified is buying declining, conventional wells from EQT and other Marcellus Shale drillers. WV-SORO expects Diversified will plug only 310 of the 17,000 wells they have purchased in the next 15 years, and after 2019 to start leaving 10,000 more unplugged. These wells are located on surface and mineral owners across West Virginia.
The Legislature needs to pass the “Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act” (SB 576 & HB 3065) in order to stop more wells from being orphaned. Currently operators only have to post a “blanket” “performance” bond in the amount of $50,000 – as little as $20 a well for some – when plugging costs $25,000 to $65,000 or more for each well.
It will be good if the Legislature passes other bills like HB 2779 and HB 2673, that will generate money to plug a few orphaned wells, perhaps 60 a year. (These bills have already passed the House of Delegates.) But we need the Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act passed in order to prevent more wells from being orphaned by requiring what we are calling “plugging assurance” for three kinds of wells: 1) new wells, 2) existing wells that are producing but no longer producing in paying quantities, and 3) wells are transferred (often from a driller that can afford to plug its old wells to one that cannot).
“Plugging assurance” would be a single well bond in the actual cost to plug the well, or plugging assurance would be payment into an escrow account for each well in the treasurer’s office of the cost to plug the well when it is time.
For more information on Diversified, see the following news articles: