Lucas, Bice Introduce Legislation Addressing Abandoned Oil Wells, Stimulating Research

July 12, 2021
Press Release

Cheyenne, OK – Recently, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) and Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (OK-05) introduced the Abandoned Well Remediation Research and Development Act, which would establish an abandoned wells research, development, and demonstration program at the Department of Energy.

Oklahoma currently has 1,277 listed abandoned oil and gas wells across the state. In 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency reported there were over 3.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells in the United States- including 2.1 million unplugged abandoned wells.  Yet, both the state and national numbers could be underestimations due to the lack of location data.

The Abandoned Well Remediation Research and Development Act would help improve data collection on the location of abandoned wells; advance plugging, remediation, and reclamation efforts; and improve environmental remediation practices. The bill also authorizes up to $30 million in FY22, increasing to $35 million in FY26.

“Locating, closing, or repurposing wells is critical work that can reduce methane emissions and reclaim resources. But doing this work is difficult and costly,” said Congressman Lucas. “In Oklahoma, we have thousands of abandoned wells with an average cost of $40k to $70k to properly close. For some sites, the costs could rise to nearly $1 million. This legislation will help us identify new materials and advanced techniques to find and manage abandoned wells, which will help our environment and our energy sector.”

“America’s energy sector has experienced multiple challenges in recent years, including termination of the Keystone Pipeline, lower production and job losses, in addition to the impact of the pandemic,” said Congresswoman Bice. “As a result, thousands of wells have been shuttered. My home state of Oklahoma has an incredible program that helps address abandoned well sites, and it’s past time we do something similar on the federal level. This legislation will help create energy sector jobs for so many that have lost employment, while helping the environment.”

Tens of thousands of known abandoned oil and gas wells across the country leak methane into the atmosphere, pose health and safety risks, and can pollute local groundwater. Many experts estimate there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, more abandoned or orphaned wells across the country. 

Read the bill here