PAW Calls for Acceleration of Orphan Well Program

Program would retain industry jobs while reducing the orphan well backlog without burdening Wyoming taxpayers

June 1, 2020

Casper, Wyo. – Casper, Wyo. – Petroleum Association of Wyoming President Pete Obermueller called for the significant acceleration of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) Orphan Well Program during the morning session of today’s Joint Interim Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee Meeting of the Wyoming Legislature.

Obermueller testified, “with so many rigs laid down…a significant acceleration of plugging and reclaiming wells would not only keep people in the industry employed now but also reduce a long-term liability – paid for entirely by the oil and natural gas industry, not Wyoming taxpayers.”

The Orphan Well Program is administered by the WOGCC to plug, abandon and reclaim well sites abandoned mainly during bankruptcy. The program, paid for solely by the oil and natural gas industry, currently reclaims a few hundred wells per year with a budget of $7.5 million during the biennium. PAW is advocating to increase that amount to at least $15 million by tapping into industry funded reserves already in place at the WOGCC.

According to the WOGCC, there were currently 2,793 orphan wells to be plugged in the state. Accelerating the program would retain a highly-skilled energy industry workforce otherwise sitting idle during low oil and natural gas prices. This would make sure employees in the energy service industry continue to take home a paycheck and are ready to restart drilling as demand returns, while also taking advantage of time and cost benefits of reducing the orphan well backlog – a liability the industry takes seriously.

About PAW: Representing Wyoming’s primary economic engine, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, is the voice of the oil and gas industry. Our members produce 90% of Wyoming’s oil and gas, generating over $5 billion in economic activity and employing more than 18,000 of Wyoming’s hard-working men and women. PAW strives to foster mutually beneficial relationships with Wyoming’s landowners, businesses, and communities while promoting the sustainable production of Wyoming’s abundant resources.

The Petroleum Association of Wyoming provides a forum for education, interaction, and unified action for members, policymakers, and the public.