Railroad Commission Continues Plugging Orphaned Wells and Site Remediation


AUSTIN—In Fiscal Year 2014, the Railroad Commission of Texas has plugged 428 orphaned wells and performed 117 site remediation and cleanup activities, which included plugging five offshore orphaned wells.

“Under the leadership of our Commissioners, five offshore orphaned wells were made priority and plugged because they are located in sensitive marine environments,” said Ramon Fernandez, Deputy Director Field Services.

“By plugging these wells, we are protecting Texas’ precious natural resources,” Commissioner David Porter said.

“Since the establishment of the Oil Field Clean Up (OFCU) Fund in Fiscal Year 1992, the Railroad Commission has plugged more than 30,100 orphaned wells in Texas as of last month, funded entirely by the oil and gas industry, at a cost of $219.5 million. The Commission’s aggressive well-plugging program coupled with the OFCU funding has allowed us to cut the state’s number of orphan wells by more than half,” Commissioner Christi Craddick said.

In Fiscal Year 2014, the cost for the plugging the orphaned wells was $13,116,057 and site remediation and cleanup was $1,209,617. The average cost to plug an orphaned well on land is $16,607 and an offshore well is $1 million. The average cost to remediate and cleanup a site is $12,323. The plugging of the orphaned wells and site remediation and cleanup was funded by the OFCU Fund, with the exception of two site remediations and cleanups that were funded by federal grants.

Senate Bill 1103, 72nd Legislature, 1991, authorizes the Commission to use the OFCU Fund to plug abandoned wells and cleanup leases, pits and other oil field sites when the responsible operators have failed to do so. The OFCU Fund is supported entirely by fees, penalties and other payments collected from the oil and gas industry. Drilling permit fees are the principal source of revenue for the OFCU Fund.

The Commission’s goal for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2014 is to plug an additional 111 orphaned wells and remediate and cleanup 130 additional sites.


About the Railroad Commission

Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including more than 90 years regulating the oil and gas industry. Additionally, the Commission promotes research and education on the use of alternative fuels and has jurisdiction over gas utility, surface mining and pipeline industries. Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. To learn more, please visit http://www.rrc.texas.gov/