The United States Department of the Interior (DOI) announced that it has awarded an initial $560 million from the Federal Infrastructure Act to 24 states to begin work to plug, cap and salvage wells from orphan oil and gas.
The department says 22 states will each receive $25 million for the work, while “Arkansas and Mississippi will each receive $5 million to support methane measurement and begin plugging wells.”
According to the DOI, eligible states have indicated that there are more than 10,000 “high priority” well sites across the country ready for immediate remediation efforts, and “many more are planned for future action.” “.
Methane leaking from unclogged wells is called a “serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere,” says the DOI .
“At the Department of the Interior, we are working on multiple fronts to clean up these sites as quickly as possible by investing in efforts on federal lands and partnering with states and tribes to leave no community behind,” said the secretary. inside Deb Haaland. “Today’s announcement is an exciting step towards what we will accomplish together through this historic law.”
Initial plans from affected states indicate: 15 states will use initial grants to build methane measurement capability, while six states, including California, Mississippi and West Virginia, have committed to measuring methane before and immediately after sanitation; 12 states, including Kansas, New Mexico and Ohio, have prioritized plugging wells in underprivileged communities; states like Arizona, Louisiana and Montana will prioritize job creation and preference for small businesses as part of their contracting process, according to the DOI.
As of 2021, states had identified more than 129,000 orphan wells on public and private land, although this number may increase after further research into records, improved well-locating techniques and increased inspections of wells. national sites and data collection. Kentucky and Oklahoma may have over 1,000 such sites.
In the western United States, Montana-based scrap recycler Pacific Steel & Recycling has been involved with a non-profit organization called the Well Done Foundation (also based in Montana) to help dismantle dozens of orphan oil and gas wells in this state.
A list of the estimated number of orphan wells in participating states is available, along with the DOI press release, on this webpage.