Lack of Inspections Leads to Leaking Gas Wells

CONTACT: Dave McMahon | 304-993-0468 |

WHO: WV Surface Owners Rights Organization; WV Environmental Council, and others.

WHAT: Zoom press conference on recent study from Princeton and McGill Universities showing need for funding for even more oil and gas inspectors.

WHEN: Monday, February 7, 10:00 a.m.


In budget year 2020, the Legislature budgeted the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas fund* for
routine permit applications and other inspections in the amount of $4.8 Million which resulted in 17 inspectors, 1 for every 4,000 oil and gas wells and their associated tanks, etc.

In budget year 2021, the legislature budgeted that fund only a reduced $3.1 million
resulting in 1 inspector for every 7,000 wells (and 28,000 associated tanks).

A 2018 study by Princeton and McGill Universities has come to light showing that a
sample of 79 wells in 13 counties showed that 53% of active, conventional, vertical gas wells were leaking an average of 9 cubic feet of gas — an hour.

The press conference will be talking about that and its relation to introduced legislation
relating to funding for oil and gas inspectors.

SB 480 which would only restore funding back to 1 inspector for every 4000 wells does
not do enough. Lack of inspections at that level lead to the leaking wells discovered in the
study. SB 480 was on the Senate Energy Industry and Mining Committee agenda twice but
removed before the meeting started. We will make the case that SB 480 needs amended, or a bill such as HB 2725needs to be passed. HB 2725 would require the drillers to pay a $100 a year fee for each well.

We need at least one inspector for every 2000 wells.

*Note this fund is not the fund for inspectors for dealing with orphaned well plugging
arising out of the federal infrastructure legislation or previous legislation passed in West
Virginia. This is about “Oil and Gas Operating Permit and Processing Fund”.

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