Federal rules push well plugging cost to $100,000

(The Center Square) — As Pennsylvania’s orphan well-plugging program ramps up, state officials seem optimistic about the albeit bumpy road ahead.

Cost estimates, for example, are up, driven by federal requirements and supply issues.

Pennsylvania has plugged 200 orphan wells under Gov. Josh Shapiro as the state kicks in more money to complement a massive increase in federal funds that are part of a national effort. The orphan wells, out-of-commission sources of natural gas and oil with no ownership, are scattered across the commonwealth.

The decades-old wells are in out-of-the-way places and plugging them cheaply is no simple matter. State officials at first estimated it would take $68,000 per well, but costs have since climbed.

“We’re a little bit north of $100,000 per well in the initial grant contracts,” said Kurt Klapkowski, acting deputy secretary of the office of oil and gas management in the Department of Environmental Protection during a Tuesday
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