Railroad Commission sets goal to plug more than 1,000 wells in 2017

Another year brings another round of orphaned oil and gas wells that need to be plugged by the Railroad Commission of Texas, the agency that regulates oil and gas in the state.

While oil and gas companies are expected to plug wells once they are no longer actively producing, many thousands of wells have been abandoned by companies that, often, can’t afford to plug them.

This is where the Railroad Commission steps in, with money from fees, taxes and grants, to cover the cost of plugging wells. There are currently more than 10,000 orphan wells in Texas, and the commission hopes to plug 1,050 wells in 2017.

In fiscal year 2016, the commission spent more than $8.5 million plugging 544 wells. On Tuesday, at their first meeting in 2017, the commissioners got an update on well-plugging for fiscal year 2017.

  • 118 wells were plugged during the first quarter (Sept. 1 – Nov. 30, 2016). Only 60 of those have invoices, and it cost more than $1 million to plug them.
  • 141 wells were approved for plugging during the first quarter.
  • For fiscal year-to-date (from Sept. 1, 2016 to Jan. 20, 2017) 178 wells have been plugged.