Documenting the location, status of “orphan” oil and gas wells on private property is part of a national initiative.

Private landowners who may have what are called “orphaned” oil and gas wells on their property are encouraged to participate in a survey as the State of Mississippi seeks to create an updated inventory of known locations of idled wells.

Documenting the location of “orphaned” oil and gas wells on private property by Mississippi Oil and Gas Board (OGB) is part of a national initiative to help assure proper capping and closure of such wells. An orphaned well is defined as an oil or gas well of which the operator is unknown or insolvent.

“Through funding provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Mississippi could be eligible for a federal grant up to $25 million to address orphan well site plugging, remediation and reclamation at no cost to the landowner,” said Jess New, executive director OGB. “Public outreach and information-gathering support plans to submit a grant application to the Department of the Interior. The IIJA is a federal program that was established to assess and help assure that orphaned wells are properly capped and secured.”

Mississippi has a long history as an energy producing state. According to New, many energy-producing states have orphaned wells that should be inventoried and documented. Such sites in Mississippi could date back to the 1930s, and the median cost of plugging, mitigating, and claiming a well is $76,000. That cost will be paid by the federal government via grants to states. A separate program is underway to document and address orphaned wells on federal and public lands.

Updated documentation of orphaned wells is the first step for the state to seek funds approved by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. The deadline for initial application is set for mid-May.

“The new law provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make sure legacy wells are secured and properly capped. This benefits landowners and can add protection for both property site safety and the environment,” said New. “The deadline for identifying these wells is quickly approaching, and we are asking the public to provide assistance as soon as possible.”

To report an orphaned well, click here to provide the requested information.

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Release from the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board