In yet another move to improve transparency, the Railroad Commission has launched an interactive map of ongoing orphan well plugging with the use of federal infrastructure funding.
The data visualization allows users to choose what they see on the map, including which county to view, the fiscal year, and whether the wells have been plugged or have had a work order issued to be plugged.
The RRC received a $25 million initial grant to plug abandoned oil and gas wells from the U.S. Department of the Interior in 2022. Texas was the first state in the country to start plugging abandoned oil and gas wells using federal funds with projects in Refugio County in October (video).
The funds are part of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which dedicated the funds to plug abandoned oil and gas wells.
So far, the agency, which has the critical mission of protecting public safety and the environment, has already plugged 128 orphaned wells with federal funding and plans to plug about 800 abandoned wells by the end of the fiscal year.
“Thanks to our well-established well plugging program, we were able to hit the ground running to start plugging wells with the federal funds,” said Clay Woodul, RRC Assistant Director of the Oil and Gas Division for Field Operations. “The data visualization allows anybody with access to the Internet to see our progress plugging wells the federal funds.”
RRC’s State Managed Plugging Program, which utilizes revenue from industry fees and fines, has exceeded performance measures set by the Texas Legislature for six consecutive fiscal years.
The RRC may receive up to $318 million in additional formula funding from the federal government to plug orphaned wells. More information and links can be found via the following webpage: https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/environmental-cleanup-programs/federally-funded-well-plugging/.