Louisiana has plugged 300 orphaned wells in 2023, but thousands remain


Contractors have plugged 300 orphaned well sites in Louisiana over the past 4½ months, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Department of Natural Resources Secretary Tom Harris announced last week.

That exceeds the highest number plugged by the state’s Oilfield Site Restoration program over a full year—280 wells were plugged during fiscal year 1998-1999.

Harris says favorable weather this spring helped contractors and their crews maintain the rapid pace. He hopes the work will bolster the case for increased funding in the future to plug orphaned wells.

Louisiana received an initial grant of $25 million for the project in August through the bipartisan federal infrastructure law.

Despite this year’s progress, over 4,000 wells remain unplugged in Louisiana.

Sites are classified as “orphaned” when the wells are no longer used and their operators have gone bankrupt, can’t be located, or are unable or unwilling to maintain the site, as reported by Baton Rouge Business Report. The abandoned wells often leak oil and emit methane into the environment. Read the full announcement.