Thursday, October 22, 2020

DEP Climate Committee Meets Oct. 27 To Discuss Abandoned Oil & Gas Wells, Outline of Impacts Assessment, List Of GHB Reduction Strategies

Climate Change Advisory Committee is scheduled to hold a virtual meeting on October 27 to discuss abandoned oil and gas wells, an outline of the climate impacts assessment report and a tentative list of greenhouse gas reduction strategies.

Abandoned Wells

DEP’s presentation by Seth Pelepko, Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management, will review the abandoned oil and gas well problem in the state, review several case studies on capping wells and discuss the existing financial resources the agency has to deal with the problem.

DEP will also say the number of abandoned wells is growing, pointing to cases in 2018 where two operators with major holdings abandoned 2,750 wells.

They also discuss how existing bond amounts do not cover actual plugging costs leaving taxpayers on the hook.  

Since 1989, DEP has plugged a few more than 3,000 wells, but more than 8,500 wells are on DEP’s abandoned well database.  DEP says, conservatively, recent studies suggest there are likely to be at least 200,000 legacy wells that will require plugging.

At a low-end estimate of $33,000 for plugging each well, DEP said the plugging liability  is between $280 million (8,500 wells) and $6.6 billion (200,000 wells).

DEP said the existing Good Samaritan Law provides some relief allowing third parties to volunteer to plug legacy wells where there is no responsible party.

An additional concern is improperly decommissioned natural gas gathering lines that introduce stray gas into the subsurface.

Click Here for a copy of the presentation.

Climate Impact Assessment

The Committee will have the opportunity to review a draft outline of the 2021 Climate Impacts Assessment and a generic table of risks ranked as highly likely, likely, possible and unlikely.

Reduction Strategies

Also to be discussed is a working list of greenhouse reduction strategies that is, again, fairly generic.

Public Comment

If anyone is interested in providing public comments during the meeting, they must sign up to provide comments at least 24 hours prior to the start of the meeting by emailing Lindsay Byron at  or calling 717-772-8951.

The meeting will be held via WebEx starting at 9:00 a.m.  Click Here to register.  The meeting is also available via conference call: 1-415-655-0003  Access code: 132 698 4000.

For more information and available handouts, visit the DEP Climate Change Advisory Committee webpage. Questions should be directed to Lindsay Bryon, or calling or calling 717-772-8951.

[Posted: October 22, 2020]  PA Environment Digest

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