COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120
Governor Rendell Says
Pennsylvania Protecting Communities, Miners from Abandoned Oil, Gas
19 September 2007
HARRISBURG – Governor Edward G. Rendell said today
Pennsylvania will invest $2.3 million to plug 150 abandoned oil and
gas wells on private property in 10 counties.
He said the measure will make
sure that the structures, abandoned during the industry’s
unregulated past, don’t lead to explosions or polluted steams.
“Abandoned oil and gas wells
can pollute streams and drinking water supplies and, in some
situations, pose explosive dangers to nearby residents and coal mine
workers,” Governor Rendell said.
“This is a public safety
concern and an environmental protection issue.
Because of the potential
hazards, we’re taking steps and making the investment necessary to
protect nearby residents and workers by cleaning and plugging these
Pennsylvania has the most
abandoned wells in the Appalachian region and is one of the top five
The Department of Environmental
Protection has documented approximately 8,700 orphaned and abandoned
wells throughout the state, and more are often found.
A small percentage of abandoned
wells leak oil or acidic water from mines, which contaminates
streams and drinking water supplies.
A rusted casing in a gas well
may allow natural gas to flow underground and accumulate in the
basement of a nearby building or in a coal mine, with potentially
Because abandoned wells can
cause many problems, the Oil and Gas Act of 1984 requires oil and
gas well operators to plug nonproducing wells.
However, many wells were
abandoned prior to when state regulations took effect.
In 1992, the legislature amended the Oil and Gas Act to allow
certain oil or gas wells abandoned before April 1985 to be
classified as “orphan” wells.
That amendment also gave DEP
the authority and the financial means to plug them.
Landowners, leaseholders and
oil and gas operators were also relieved from the responsibility to
plug orphan wells on their properties.
“We are working aggressively to protect Pennsylvania residents and
the environment from the dangers of abandoned oil and gas wells,”
said DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty.
“I commend property owners and
local environmental groups who locate, map and report abandoned
wells they discover on their lands.”
Generally, to plug a well, all of the pipe should be removed and the
well bore cleaned.
The well bore must then be
filled with cement and a nonporous material to act as a plug that
prevents gas or liquids from entering or flowing in it.
Funds for well plugging come
from Growing Greener grants and from surcharges on well-drilling
permits issued in Pennsylvania.
The contracts for plugging the
wells were awarded through an open and competitive process.
It is estimated that as many as
300,000 were drilled in Pennsylvania after Edwin Drake drilled the
world’s first commercial oil well in 1859 in Titusville, Venango
The commonwealth produced half
of the world’s oil until the East Texas oil boom of 1901.
Since then, Pennsylvania also
became an important area for natural gas production.
As oil and gas prices
dramatically increase, Pennsylvania is again attracting oil and gas
DEP processed a record 7,292
drilling permits in 2006 – a 21 percent increase over 2005, and the
fourth straight year of record permitting activity.
For more information,
website, keyword: Oil and Gas.
Details of the $2,288,379.93 in contracts awarded to clean and plug
orphaned and abandoned oil and gas wells:
North Fayette Township - $88,350 contract awarded to Hydrocarbon
Well Service Inc. for four wells.
Kiskiminetas Township - $100,700 contract awarded to Hydrocarbon
Well Service Inc. for two wells.
Bruin and Parker townships - $75,000 contract awarded to Fawnwood
Energy Inc. for five wells.
Chapman Township - $632,311 contract awarded to Hemlock Oil & Gas
Co. Inc. for 38 wells.
Howe Township - $129,956 contract awarded to S&T Service and Supply
Inc. for five wells.
Washington Township - $40,113.50 contract awarded to S&T Service and
Supply Inc. for one well.
Eldred and Otto townships - $141,946 contract awarded to James W.
Day contracting for 14 wells.
Keating Township - $33,650 contract awarded to Alco Well Services
Inc. for four wells.
Cherrytree Township - $438,058 contract awarded to S & T Service and
Supply Inc. for 43 wells.
Cornplanter Township - $214,716 contract awarded to S&T Service and
Supply Inc. for 20 wells.
Warren City - $35,243.50 contract awarded to S&T Service and Supply
Inc. for six wells.
Amwell, North Strabane, Smith, South Strabane townships, City of
Washington - $358,336 contract awarded to Hydrocarbon Well Service
Inc for eight wells.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA