According to new estimates from the Governor’s office, plugging abandoned oil and gas wells in Wyoming could cost anywhere from $8 to $32 million.
The smaller figure takes into account only wells that the state knows are abandoned. The larger one includes wells owned by bankrupt methane farming company Luca Technologies and the 2300 wells the state considers ‘at risk’ for abandonment.
That number of 'at risk' wells is twice previous estimates. The Governor's policy director, Shawn Reese, says the discrepancy can be traced back to the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
A proposal to test water quality at oil and gas wells before and after drilling is making its way through the rulemaking process. The governor’s office and industry hope it will answer some of the questions surrounding groundwater contamination near oil and gas development, but as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, the rule may not actually be able to answer the question of who’s responsible, if contamination occurs, and that has some people questioning whether it’s valuable at all.