RRC to Plug Up to 3,000 Orphan Wells During Biennium
November 7, 2017 Austin - All three Texas Railroad Commissioners today approved the Railroad Commission's 2018-19 well plugging plan. Under this proposal, the Commission plans to plug up to 3,000 abandoned wells over the biennium. The estimated cost of the well plugging plan is $67 million, which will come from fees paid by oil and gas operators into the Oil & Gas Regulation & Cleanup Fund (OGRC) and the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF). No taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for well plugging activities.
This year the 85th Texas Legislature approved allowing the Commission to use OGRC and ESF industry fees to plug wells abandoned by operators. The majority of oil and gas operators take care of their own wells, plugging a total of 10,325 in Fiscal Year 2017.
The additional support from the Legislature will allow the Commission to substantially increase wells plugged to approximately 1,500 each year of the next biennium compared to 918 abandoned wells plugged in FY17. Since the well plugging program began in 1984, 36,610 abandoned wells have been plugged for $272 million.
Additionally, Commissioners approved the RRC's site remediation section's plan to complete 259 cleanup activities at abandoned oilfield sites in FY18 using approximately $9 million from the OGRC.