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CEPM Presenting Webinar on Abandoned and Orphan Oil and Gas Wells

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

Washington & Jefferson College Center for Energy Policy and Management (CEPM) will host a free webinar on “Abandoned and Orphan Wells: An Expensive Environmental Legacy” at 11 a.m. Nov. 10. The webinar will be presented by Seth Pelepko, Subsurface Activities Division Manager for the Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management at Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Titan Energy Solutions of Southpointe is the event sponsor. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of oil and gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania since the industry’s birth in 1859. Although owners and operators are legally responsible for plugging wells when oil and gas production ends, this does not always happen. In addition to the wells that were drilled prior to regulations pertaining to well decommissioning, there are instances in which an oil and gas company files for bankruptcy protection or moves out of the state, leaving its wells abandoned. There are more than 8,000 wells in the DEP’s database, but research suggests there could be as many as 200,000. At a conservative cost of $33,000 to plug an abandoned well, DEP’s liability ranges between $280 million to several billion. While the state adds a modest surcharge on drilling permits to fund plugging activities and requires a bond, that amount is inadequate. Leaking wells are an environmental and health hazard, putting methane into the atmosphere and groundwater. Seth Pelepko currently serves as the Subsurface Activities Division Manager for DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Planning and Program Management. He has worked in this capacity for more than five years and has been with the Office of Oil and Gas Management for 10 years. His areas of expertise include stray gas migration casework, gas, and oil well integrity, and legacy well topics. To register for this webinar, which is open to the public, to register, click here! The seminar is approved for Continuing Legal Education in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Contact the Washington County Bar Association at for information.

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