The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB) announced they are working on two projects at three different sites as part of their efforts to clean up abandoned oil and gas well sites. To date their have been 331 restorations in Logan County.
The OERB performs abandoned well site restorations throughout the state at no cost to landowners. There are currently 400 different abandoned sites where restoration will soon be or is already underway, at 122 locations across 32 counties in the state. The sites are restored with money from a voluntary assessment paid to the OERB by Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners.
An abandoned well site restoration includes removing debris such as concrete, equipment and trash, removing or burying lease roads and location pads, repairing erosion and saltwater “scars” left on the land, treating hydrocarbons and closing pits. Over the course of approximately one year, landowners will see native vegetation beginning to grow in the previously damaged area. Today, well site operators are much more concerned with addressing such issues. But the vast majority of these well sites were drilled many years ago and left by previous generations before today’s regulations were in place.
After contacting the OERB, the OERB’s Environmental Consultant, BEACON Environmental Assistance Corporation, will contact the landowners to walk them through the process and discuss next steps. There is a short list of requirements to qualify for a free restoration. “Used to, when I would drive through my pasture, I always had a vision of what I’d like to do to fix it and get rid of that abandoned well site,” said Robert Sutterfield, an Okemah resident who benefited from an OERB restoration. “Now when I drive through it, it’s already fixed, it’s already cleaned up. I didn’t have to do it, didn’t have to pay for having it done. OERB is doing a good thing.” Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners voluntarily fund the OERB, by a one-tenth of one percent assessment on the sale of oil and natural gas.
Fifty-percent of the OERB’s budget is dedicated to well site restoration, which is nearly $8 million annually.
Landowners who notice abandoned well site activity on their property can submit their site for potential restoration by visiting www.oerb.com/restoration, or calling 1-800-664-1301 ext. 4.