Across the country, owners and speculators have walked away from thousands of oil and gas wells, leaving them unplugged and idle. Many of these drill sites leak toxic gases and liquids and pose direct threats to human health. The wells are everywhere – they’re in residential areas and buried deep in thick woods accessed by swampy dirt roads. Abandoned wells can leak toxic substances such as arsenic, formaldehyde, benzene, and methane, polluting the air and groundwater. Census data indicates 14 million people live within a mile of an “orphaned well” — named so because often no viable owner exists. Until recently, states had scant resources to identify and remediate these risks.
In 2021, Congress set aside an unprecedented $4.7 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for states to plug and remediate hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells nationwide. Louisiana, home to more than 4,500 orphaned wells received a $25-million Initial Grant to address orphaned wells in the state. The IIJA funding is being administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI). The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) oversees the state program.
Dynamic Group, LLC was awarded one of the first contracts to focus on an initial 278 wells in Monroe Conservation District. We signed the first phase of this contract in October 2022 to design the implementation of the program. In December 2022, Dynamic was named the construction manager at risk (CMAR) over the program leveraging our team’s expertise in project management, construction management, operations, administration, legal, compliance, and financial management.
On January 19, 2023, representatives of the DOI visited Louisiana for the first time since the passing of the IIJA. Members of DOI, Department of Labor, Department of Labor, the Delta Regional Authority, and the DNR visited multiple orphan sites in Tullos, Louisiana, including an ongoing permanent abandonment managed by the Dynamic Group, and other sites in the downtown area. The Tullos wells are in the middle of a residential area. Reports were very positive, and our client is pleased with our work to plug and abandon the wells, removing a health and safety hazard for the surrounding residents.
As of May 15, 2023, Dynamic has plugged and capped 102 orphaned wells. This work is creating jobs in the communities we’re working in and utilizing local businesses and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs). In partnership with CTEH, our team developed software to track all progress and documentation for each project and the overall program. The program follows all U.S. Dept. of Interior environmental, compliance, and regulatory requirements.
Orphan wells pose an ongoing threat to the health and safety of our communities. Plugging and abandoning these wells eliminates methane and other emissions, remediating the environment and providing safer communities for residents.