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Abandoned Oil Wells
Tips, Resources and Reasons to Find Work with Abandoned Oil Wells

Find Work with Abandoned Oil Wells

June 22, 2016

During the oil boom, states like Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma were filled with active rigs. New ones were being drilled regularly.

Since oil prices have dropped, there are not as many active rigs, making it more difficult to find your usual work. However, oilfield service companies are still needed. Below are some ways you can help protect the environment and win more contracts by helping with abandoned oil wells.

abandoned oil wellsAbandoned Oil Well Cleanup – How Can You Help?

There are several ways to get your foot in the door to make some money from cleaning up these old well sites. Below are a few programs and initiatives that have started to help plug and decommission abandoned oil wells. Most of the sites have information or online bidding portals on specific contracts available. The contracts are bid on by oil and gas service companies and the organization awards the contract.


Oklahoma took advantage of the oil boom and now has several abandoned oil well sites. The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board voluntarily restores abandoned well sites at no cost to the landowner. Currently, they have $100 million dollars in funding to restore 15,000 abandoned well sites. If you’re looking for work in the Oklahoma area, apply on their website to become a contractor to be a part of the restoration process.


In Texas, the Railroad Commission started the Oil and Gas Regulation and Cleanup Fund (OGRC) to help plug abandoned oil wells. According to their second-quarter report of 2016, the OGRC was able to plug 43 wells using their funds.


Ohio established the Orphan Well Program in 1977. The website states that the program has plugged more than a thousand wells and prides itself as one of the best in the nation.


In 1993, Louisiana started the Louisiana Oilfield Site Restoration Program. The funding for this program is from a fee that oil and gas operators pay. It totals about $4 million dollars a year to help the cleanup of abandoned oil wells.

North Dakota

During the oil boom, North Dakota had hundreds of active drilling rigs. In 2015, North Dakota had 343 abandoned oil wells, 215 which have been abandoned for seven years or more. With the number of abandoned wells, the Industrial Commission now has the discretion to decide to plug oil and gas wells if they have been inactive for more than a year.


Kansas established the Abandoned Oil and Gas Well/Site Remediation Program in 1996. Its website has a map of the location of abandoned oil and gas wells giving you a glance at where potential work might be needed.

Environment Hazards from Abandoned Oil Wells

The main motivation behind the cleanup of abandoned oil wells is to make the land useful again and protect the environment from the hazards they’re presenting. Not only can your oilfield service company win more contracts with the cleanup process, but you can also help the environment.

These wells that are left unclosed leak oil, gas and brine into the soil and drinking water. A study from the U.S. Geological Survey found that brine from abandoned wells polluted part of an underground water supply for 50,000 people in West Point, Kentucky in 1988.

There’s also the concern of explosions if an abandoned oil well leaks. Even the smallest leak of methane can be a risk for a potential explosion.

Protect the Environment & Make Some Extra Cash

Even when oil prices are low and fewer rigs are active, there’s still work to be done. To plug or decommission an abandoned oil well requires several types of services. Below are just a few of the steps that need to be done.

  • Removing downhole equipment
  • Inspections
  • Filling the well with fluid
  • Wellbore cleanout
  • Plugging casing stubs, annular space, and surface space

Talk to your network and use some of the resources mentioned above to win some contracts in cleaning up the abandoned oil wells.

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