According to new estimates from the Governor’s office, plugging abandoned oil and gas wells in Wyoming could cost anywhere from $8 to $32 million.
The smaller figure takes into account only wells that the state knows are abandoned. The larger one includes wells owned by bankrupt methane farming company Luca Technologies and the 2300 wells the state considers ‘at risk’ for abandonment.
Opinion is sharply divided on a proposed rule that would require water testing at oil and gas wells before and after drilling.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has been taking public comment on the rule since August. Two dozen groups and individuals submitted written comments, and a handful spoke at a public hearing in Casper on Tuesday.
Bob LeResche is vice-chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, a group that represents landowners. He says as they stand, the rules have no teeth.
Oil and gas operators need more insurance, or bonding. That’s what the leaders of several state agencies told the legislature’s Minerals Committee at a meeting today. They said there’s a gap in how much money is available and how much is needed to deal with abandoned oil and gas wells. The question is: where will that money come from?
Oil and Gas Commission Supervisor, Grant Black, says the bonding structure can be changed to avoid similar problems in the future.
There are fewer companies flaring off natural gas today than there were six months ago. In March, the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission had 65 flaring authorizations. Members of the Legislatures Minerals Committee were told by Commission Supervisor Grant Black that now there is about half that number. He also said that companies generally request flaring permits when a compressor is down or there is no pipeline to get the gas to market and they’re seeing much less of the latter.
As the state initiates its investigation of water quality issues in Pavillion, two state agencies plan to review existing data before deciding how to proceed. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Department of Environmental Quality will look at the well bore integrity of about 50 oil and gas wells within a quarter mile of 14 domestic water wells that had at least one pollutant at levels above drinking water standards.
Several groups submitted comments Thursday on the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s draft rule for groundwater testing in the state. The rule would require that energy companies test groundwater quality before and after oil and gas drilling.
Richard Garrett is a policy analyst with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, one of the groups that submitted comments. He says his group and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) made recommendations that they hope will close any potential loopholes in the law.
Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck spoke with the new supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Grant Black. Since he started the job a few weeks ago, Black has been dealing with issues ranging from the flaring of natural gas to water contamination. He says the flaring issue is interesting.
A coalition of Wyoming groups has filed a rulemaking petition to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to address oil and gas development in the state.
The petition focuses on three main issues: increasing the setback of drilling rigs from homes, schools and businesses, adequate enforcement in the case of accidents and spills…and reducing the practice of flaring. Powder River Basin Resource Council’s Jill Morrison says flaring has been a recognized problem for some time.
The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently okayed an aquifer exemption that would permit Encana Oil and Gas to pump waste water from their oil and gas projects in the Moneta Divide into the Madison Aquifer, about 60 miles outside of Casper. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that the exemption isn’t exactly a rarity, but it does bring up some big questions.