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Natural Resources & Energy

State Seizes Wells From Indebted Coal Bed Methane Operator

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A deeply in-debt company that wanted to revive the coal bed methane industry in Wyoming had its wells seized by the state Tuesday after failing to post an overdue reclamation bond. The seizure follows years of back and forth with High Plains Gas. Wells that aren’t producing need to be bonded, in order to cover the cost of reclamation and High Plains owed almost $7 million. The company said last week that it had secured backing for the bond from a silent partner but never posted the money. 

With the addition of High Plains' 2300 wells, the list of abandoned oil and gas wells in Wyoming more than doubled. Last year, the Governor’s office estimated plugging that number of wells could cost upwards of $13 million. The company’s existing reclamation bonding is only around $8 million. Governor Matt Mead says in light of the situation, the state should take another look at it’s bonding requirements.

“Because [well plugging] is something that traditionally is on the industry to provide the funding for that," Mead said. "And if we’re behind, then we need to up it.”

High Plains' wells join a list of more than a thousand other wells abandoned by their operators.

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