Ohio seeks to plug a backlog of orphan oil and gas wells

deep well drilling rig
(Farm and Dairy file photo. Not an actual orphan well).

CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has announced plans to plug a backlog of orphan and idle wells.

Department spokesman Adam Schroeder said the Division of Oil and Gas Resources has been focused on increasing the number of eligible contractors to bid to plug the wells. The division wants to award up to $25 million in contracts before the end of June.

Orphan and idle wells are oil and gas wells that have been plugged improperly and do not have an owner to pay to have them plugged. The wells are health hazards and have been found under a school, next to houses, and in farm fields, the Canton Repository reported.

In efforts to attract more bidders, the state has started packaging more wells into contracts, Schroeder said.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has been making revisions to the Orphan Well Program to allow landowners to hire with a contractor, who would be paid by the state, to plug low risk wells.

“We think that will also increase the number of wells getting plugged each year,” Schroeder said.

The department estimates that there are more than 280,000 wells that have been drilled since the mid-1800s, the exact number or orphan wells is unknown.

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