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Orphaned Well Meeting Draws Crowd


The state held its first-ever public meeting about the issue of orphaned and idle gas wells Wednesday in Gillette. 

The coal bed methane boom left more than a thousand potentially hazardous, abandoned wells on state and private lands in Wyoming, and landowners turned out in droves to learn about the Governor’s plan for plugging them.

The project involves collaboration between a number of state agencies, including the Department of Environmental Quality, State Engineer's Office and the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. The meeting was an opportunity for landowners to ask questions and make suggestions to representatives from those agencies. 

Bob King is the overall project manager. He says many people had questions and concerns about the process for converting the coalbed methane wells to domestic or stock wells as well as the process for reclaiming produced water reservoirs. Meeting attendees also wanted to know if and how the state would deal with surface damage caused by drilling. King says the state will be responsible for reclamation, including removing roads, pipelines and other infrastructure, where necessary.

The Governor's office has estimated that plugging all the wells will cost between $8 and $32 million. King says the state will evaluate the need for another meeting after reviewing landowner comments.

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