State wells stay operational despite oil industry slump

  • June 30, 2016

Adam Wilmouth, NewsOK: 

Despite two years of low oil prices and a slowed drilling industry, Oklahoma has seen no increase in abandoned oil wells, state officials say.

Before companies can drill in Oklahoma, they must set aside a surety to plug the well if the company goes out of business or otherwise cannot take care of the well itself. If, however, a well were abandoned, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission would turn the well over to the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB), which has cleaned up more than 15,000 abandoned wells throughout the state.

But that hasn’t been an issue in recent years, Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner said.

“We don’t have any problems with that in Oklahoma,” he said. “Even the companies that have gone bankrupt have not tried to drop their surety. They’re legally responsible to take care of the wells, and they have done that. Even if a company has decided to call it quits, that doesn’t stop them from being liable.”

OERB Environmental Director Steve Sowers confirmed that his organization has not been directed to any newly abandoned well sites.

We’re still cleaning up orphaned and abandoned sites, but all of them are older, historical sites,” he said. “We haven’t seen any new sites.”

Read the full article at


Join the Discussion