Local governments are an important partner in reducing the risk of legacy oil and gas wells. Local officials are often approached by concerned citizens regarding wells they’ve identified, or issues related to stray gas associated with improperly abandoned wells. The following information has been compiled to provide information to local government officials. Citizens may also be directed to the landowner information page for more information.
What oil and gas legacy does your hometown have?
This online mapping tool can show you reported legacy wells (ID’d as DEP Orphan or DEP Abandoned), as well as actively producing wells and wells with other assigned status types (Abandoned, Inactive, etc.).
An example of historic oil and gas development in a populated area can be viewed here.
Local governments are eligible to apply for a Community Financing Authority (CFA) Orphan and Abandoned Well Plugging (OAWP) Program grant. The grant applications can be used for plugging abandoned oil and gas wells, installation of vents on abandoned oil and gas wells or installation of mitigation systems to remediate stray gas migration. Currently, the grant amount cannot exceed $250,000, but multiple applications may be submitted concurrently. DEP staff are available to discuss the grant program and provide technical support throughout the application period and field work stage of the project.
Information about the grant program can be found here.
Success Story – Richland Township, Allegheny County (PDF)
Development and Zoning Issues
Development/redevelopment of parcels in historic oil and gas areas can lead to emergency situations (i.e., bulldozing over an old wellhead or worse, building a dwelling on top of a legacy well). Researching project areas as thoroughly as possible can help mitigate the risk of damaging or building atop a well. Identifying and plugging the well prior to development is always preferable compared to trying to properly decommission it after development or damaging it and causing a potentially dangerous situation.
It is important to know that individuals or companies can be financially liable or subject to cost recovery if they damage or otherwise manipulate a well (intentionally or through negligence).
Technical assistance is available for land developers looking to plug wells ahead of construction projects.
DEP Oil and Gas staff are available to discuss concerns associated with legacy wells in your jurisdiction. The more information you have about the topic, the more efficiently your residents can be served. Informational pieces can be provided for newsletters, social media, or other public notifications your municipality utilizes to communicate with residents. An example of a general fact sheet can be found here.
You may also contact the applicable District Office or DEP Central Office.
What has DEP done in my area?
Maps showing the number of wells and the total amount spent on DEP Plugging projects are below.