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Office of Oil and Gas Management

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Orphan Well Plugging Grant Program

In response to the passage of Act 96 and Act 136, DEP is creating an Orphan Well Plugging Grant Program that provides funding to a qualified well plugger to plug an eligible orphan well.

This grant program provides up to:

  • $40,000 to a Qualified Well Plugger for every eligible well plugged that is an orphan well of a depth of 3,000 feet or less or the actual cost to plug the well, whichever is less.
  • $70,000 to a Qualified Well Plugger for every eligible well plugged that is an orphan well of a depth greater than 3,000 feet or the actual cost to plug the well, whichever is less.

A “Qualified Well Plugger” is a “person who demonstrates access to equipment, materials, resources and services to plug wells in accordance with statutory and regulatory requirements.”

An “Orphan Well” as defined in Section 3203 of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act is “a well abandoned prior to April 18, 1985 that has not been affected or operated by the present owner or operator and from which the present owner, operator or lessee has received no economic benefit other than as a landowner or recipient of a royalty interest from the well.”

For any inquiries or questions about the orphan well plugging grant, please feel free to reach out via email at

More information coming soon on the Abandoned and Orphan Well Program webpage.

Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP) Grant

This is an important notice to Pennsylvania conventional oil and gas well operators regarding the availability of federal funding to plug marginal wells. The federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides new authorities under Section 136 of the Clean Air Act to reduce methane emissions from the petroleum and natural gas sector through the creation of the Methane Emissions Reduction Program (MERP). Nationwide, MERP will provide more than $1 billion in financial funding for grants and other activities to reduce methane.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will be receiving more than $44 million of this funding. Part of Pennsylvania’s funding will be used to provide grants to conventional well operators to plug marginal conventional wells in their inventory. A marginal conventional well (MCW) is defined as a conventional vertical or slightly deviated oil and/or natural gas well with a known operator, producing less than or equal to 15 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOED) and/or 90 thousand cubic feet (Mcf) gas per day (1 BOE = 6 Mcf) over the prior 12 month period. Most conventional wells, for which production data has been reported to the DEP, meet the definition of an MCW.

To be eligible for this funding, an operator must be in compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, including those related to the submission of well production, waste, and mechanical integrity assessment reports to DEP. Additionally, failure to submit these reports subject operators to enforcement by DEP that includes civil penalty liability. If you are interested in obtaining this funding and are currently not in compliance with these requirements, you should submit this information to DEP as soon as possible.

Operators can find information regarding the production, waste, and mechanical integrity assessment report submission process and requirements on DEP’s website (Electronic Submission Guides). Home use well operators can satisfy all three reporting requirements through the submission of a single form for each well (8000-FM-OOGM0001).

Please note that development of the MERP grant funding process is ongoing and additional information will be added to the MERP webpage as it becomes available. Operators should check this webpage often to obtain the latest information. Grant funding will be limited, so operators interested in taking advantage of this opportunity should submit their applications as soon as possible when the process opens.

For any inquiries or questions about MERP, please feel free to reach out via email at

More information coming soon on the MERP webpage.

Pressure Barrier Policy - The Department published the final technical guidance document titled: ”Guidelines for Development of Operator Pressure Barrier Policy for Unconventional Wells (DEP ID 800-0810-003)” on May 6, 2023. The purpose of the guidance is to assist unconventional operators developing the Pressure Barrier Policy component of a Preparedness, Prevention and Contingency plan requirements of 25 Pa. Code, Chapter 78a.55. These guidelines have been developed to facilitate appropriate well control incident risk mitigation.

The Oil and Gas Industry is ever evolving; and as such, DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management is at the forefront. Check back often to keep informed on the Bureau’s latest activities and subscribe to the Oil and Gas News Line below.


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The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is not involved in regulating lease agreements between mineral property owners and producers. Lease agreements are contractual matters between private parties. DEP does not audit payments, read or calibrate meters or tanks, or otherwise get involved in lease matters.