energy development

Orphan wells legislation signed into law

Legislation addressing orphan oil and gas wells landowners contend with throughout the state was signed into law by Gov. Kasich on June 29.

“Currently 250,000 vertical and horizontal wells have been drilled in the state with potentially thousands of them being orphaned, meaning their owners are untraceable,” said Jenna Beadle, OFBF director of state policy. “Our members are often plagued with one or more orphan wells on their property and this legislation will encourage more landowners to report the existence of orphan wells on their property and create more financial resources to begin plugging these wells.”

The legislation alleviates several of the challenges associated with orphaned wells. Significantly, it creates a prioritization structure that will cause Ohio Department of Natural Resources to evaluate these wells and develop a strategy to begin quickly addressing them in order of urgency.

Wells would be classified as:

• Distressed – high priority
• Moderate – medium priority
• Maintenance – low priority

This scoring matrix causes ODNR to evaluate these wells and begin quickly addressing orphaned wells that are the most hazardous to the surrounding environment.

Also, landowners will no longer be penalized on their federal income taxes for receiving financial assistance from the ODNR’s Orphan Well Program to plug an orphaned well.

Ohio Farm Bureau membership

 

Kelli Milligan Stammen is director of publications for the Ohio Farm Bureau.