ATTENTION to Orphaned Oil & Gas Wells Needed in West Virginia

by admin on February 16, 2019

ALERT — Oil & Gas Wells Need Attention

WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization ALERT

From Julie Archer, WV-SORO, Charleston, February 15, 2019

Help Prevent One of the Most (If Not the Most) Widespread Environmental & Property Rights Disasters in WV

One of, if not the most, widespread environmental and property rights disasters ever is now unfolding in West Virginia! WV-SORO needs your help to hold drillers responsible and keep this from happening.

Please contact your Senators and Delegate(s) and tell them to support a strong Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act (SB 576 & HB 3065).

There are currently more than 4,500 orphaned oil and gas wells that have gone unplugged for so long that the driller/operator has gone out of business and there is no one to plug it. A company called Diversified is buying declining, conventional wells from EQT and other Marcellus Shale drillers. WV-SORO expects Diversified will plug only 310 of the 17,000 wells they have purchased in the next 15 years, and after 2019 to start leaving 10,000 more unplugged. These wells are located on surface and mineral owners across West Virginia.

The Legislature needs to pass the “Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act” (SB 576 & HB 3065) in order to stop more wells from being orphaned. Currently operators only have to post a “blanket” “performance” bond in the amount of $50,000 – as little as $20 a well for some – when plugging costs $25,000 to $65,000 or more for each well.

It will be good if the Legislature passes other bills like HB 2779 and HB 2673, that will generate money to plug a few orphaned wells, perhaps 60 a year. (These bills have already passed the House of Delegates.) But we need the Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act passed in order to prevent more wells from being orphaned by requiring what we are calling “plugging assurance” for three kinds of wells: 1) new wells, 2) existing wells that are producing but no longer producing in paying quantities, and 3) wells are transferred (often from a driller that can afford to plug its old wells to one that cannot).

“Plugging assurance” would be a single well bond in the actual cost to plug the well, or plugging assurance would be payment into an escrow account for each well in the treasurer’s office of the cost to plug the well when it is time.

Please contact your Senators and Delegate(s) and tell them to support a strong Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Prevention Act (SB 576 & HB 3065).

For additional information on why the Act is needed see here and here.

For more information on Diversified, see the following news articles:

>>> Sale of older gas wells concerns surface owners lawyer

>>> Diversified’s deal with West Virginia on plugging old oil wells shows rules need to change, environmental groups say

Contact: WV Surface Owners’ Rights Organization,
1500 Dixie Street, Charleston, WV 25311 304 346 5891

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