COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
DEP COMPLETES 12 ABANDONED
OIL AND GAS WELL PLUGGING PROJECTS IN 2008
Crews Plug 173 Wells That Threaten Water Supplies, Public Health
HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental
Protection continued its work to protect the public’s health and
safety in 2008 by plugging 173 abandoned oil and gas wells that were
found in 11 counties across the state.
“Today, oil and gas well operators cannot leave wells in a condition
that would pose a risk to the public, but unfortunately thousands of
wells were abandoned before people understood the environmental and
public health risks,” said Environmental Protection acting Secretary
wells serve as conduits that allow oil and mine drainage to
contaminate ground water and also allow natural gas to infiltrate
buildings, creating the potential for explosions."
"Our efforts to properly seal
these wells will ensure that they no longer present a danger to area
The commonwealth invested
nearly $3 million last year to close these wells as part of 12
DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas
Management awarded another 10 contracts in 2008—most of which will
be completed next year—to plug 144 additional abandoned oil and gas
Pennsylvania has the most abandoned wells in the Appalachian region
and is one of the top five states nationally.
The department has documented more than 8,700
wells throughout the state that were abandoned prior to passage of
modern oil and gas drilling regulations.
Abandoned wells can be found in many settings
from residential backyards to remote hillsides, and well-plugging
costs can vary depending on terrain and the age and depth of the
The wells plugged in 2008 were
found in western and north-central Pennsylvania by DEP inspectors
and local citizens who are working to locate and map more wells in
Since the first commercial oil
well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 1859, DEP estimates as many as
350,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the commonwealth,
with many of those wells having been abandoned without proper
plugging. Pennsylvania produced half of the world’s oil until the
East Texas oil boom of 1901.
Since then, the commonwealth
has become an important area for natural gas production. DEP
processed 7,927 drilling permits in 2008 and expects to issue more
than 11,000 permits in 2009.
“Pennsylvania’s oil and natural
gas industry is booming with nearly 71,000 producing wells and many
new wells anticipated,” Hanger said.
“The expensive environmental
damage caused by the unregulated early days of America’s oil and gas
industry reminds us to permit and monitor drilling operations to
protect our land and water resources while helping the commonwealth
to benefit from the significant economic opportunities before us.”
Funding for well plugging comes from surcharges
on well-drilling permits issued in Pennsylvania and from the Growing
Greener II program—a $625 million initiative that was proposed by
Governor Rendell and overwhelming approved by voters in 2005.
This innovative program
provides significant funding to continue cleanup of orphaned and
abandoned wells and improve the health of Pennsylvania’s 86,000
miles of waterways.
For more information,
website keyword: Oil and Gas.
Below is a list, by county, of the 12 abandoned well plugging
contracts completed in 2008:
ALLEGHENY AND WESTMORELAND
Sewickley Hills Borough, Sewickley Township: 2 wells - $113,366.60
Kiskiminetas Township: 2 wells - $188,825.23
Farmington Township: 6 wells -- $86,020.00
Chapman Township: 49 wells -- $916,265.00
Randolph Township, Wayne Township: 6 wells -- $45,802.11
Erie City, Harborcreek Township, Lake City Borough, Millcreek
Township: 7 wells -- $75,798.85
Bradford Township, Corydon Township: 8 wells -- $49,231.30
Lafayette Township, Lewis Run Borough: 9 wells -- $48,861.00
Wetmore Township: 11 wells -- $210,377.37
Ulysses Township: 1 well -- $151,921.11
Cherrytree Township: 61 wells -- $545,949.52
Amwell Township, North Strabane Township, Smith Township, South
Strabane Township: 11 wells -- $523,841.19
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA