Begin Main Content Area

Landowners' Guide to Oil and Gas Wells 

What is a legacy oil or gas well?

The term “legacy well” is generally used to describe a well which was drilled and abandoned historically, and for which there is no current responsible party.  A portion of these wells have been located by DEP and other parties; and DEP has legal authority to properly decommission such wells, as funding levels permit.  It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of legacy wells across the commonwealth that were abandoned without being properly decommissioned, and legacy wells are frequently discovered by landowners.  An improperly abandoned well has potential health, safety, environmental and financial concerns tied to it; so it is important for landowners to notify DEP as soon as possible following discovery and to never touch or make any modifications to any component of the well.  In limited cases when a legacy well is associated with the deed of a property, a landowner might have responsibility for it; but DEP will work to ensure an equitable solution in all cases.  There are also laws in the commonwealth that require reporting of legacy wells to DEP within 60 days.

Examples of legacy wells

To learn more, take a moment to carefully review the FAQs detailed below. 


Expand AllClick here for a more accessible version