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Abandoned & Orphan Well Program

It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania since 1859. Although operators are responsible for plugging wells when oil and gas production is no longer economic, there remain thousands of wells in the state that have no identifiable responsible party to complete this work.

DEP's Abandoned and Orphan Well Plugging Program was established under the authority of the Oil and Gas Act to plug oil and gas wells with no responsible party. If not addressed properly, wells have the potential to cause health, safety or environmental concerns.

If you discover a well on your property, DEP is available to ensure that it has been properly identified and that any potential environmental issues are addressed. You can contact DEP by calling one of our district offices:

  • Meadville District Office: 814.332.6860
  • Williamsport District Office: 570.327.3636
  • Pittsburgh District Office 412.442.4024
  • Central Office: 717.772.2199

The Environmental Good Samaritan Act 

DEP has released training materials to help Environmental Good Samaritan applicants pursue liability protection in association with well plugging projects. The Environmental Good Samaritan Act was signed into law, along with Growing Greener, on Dec. 15, 1999. Growing Greener is the largest environmental initiative in Pennsylvania’s history, investing $1.3 billion through 2012 to address the commonwealth’s critical environmental priorities. The Environmental Good Samaritan Act is also one of the program initiatives of Reclaim PA, a program designed to maximize reclamation of Pennsylvania’s quarter-million acres of abandoned mineral extraction lands, through increased mine operator, volunteer and DEP efforts.  For the first time in 2017, DEP began approving applications for well plugging under the provisions of the Good Samaritan Act. The agency expects that the release of this training material and enhanced application process will help fill a critical funding gap for addressing the thousands of known legacy well locations in the commonwealth.

CFA Orphan or Abandoned Well Plugging Program (OAWP)

The Department of Community and Economic Development’s (DCED) Commonwealth Financing Authority (CFA) has opened the grant application process for the 2018 year.  The application period extends from February 1st to May 31st.  One of the grant programs, the Orphan and Abandoned Well Plugging (OAWP) program, targets projects inclusive of well plugging or venting, and the installation of gas migration mitigation systems.  Over the past two years, DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Management has taken steps to enhance its grant review process, provide significant outreach relating to the CFA OAWP program, and work directly with DCED and grant applicants to ensure that the application packages submitted are high quality and meet all the criteria demanded by CFA reviewers.  Anyone interested in applying for OAWP grants should review the attached information and contact DEP if questions arise.

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