What is an orphan well, who’s responsible for it and how are they removed?

One of our projects just outside of Lockhart, we purchased a piece of property that had some abandoned oil wells on there. We were going through the process of researching these wells and see if they were in production. Come to find out, they have not been in production for a number of months.

We were looking with the Texas Railroad Commission. In the regulations it states that a P5 form is required to keep a well active that the owner operator must file yearly. Once the p5 form is filed it means that the well is registered with the State of Texas through the Texas Railroad Commission and they can ensure the proper maintenance and operation of the well is taking place. If a p5 form is not filed, that is when the Texas Railroad Commission begins the legal process of removal of the abandoned well.

When the well is abandoned, the Texas Railroad Commission performs an on-site inspection to determine the priority of removal of the well. Once the process has begun, it will take am undetermined amount of time for the well to be removed. There are a few reasons why this is. The Texas Railroad Commission has many many abandoned wells throughout the State of Texas that they have to take care of with their yearly budget. The yearly budget is comprised from fees generated from the applications and permits filed with the Texas Road Commission. There’s an undefined amount of abandoned wells in the State of Texas, so it’d be hard for the Texas Railroad Commission to narrow down a timeline of when these wells will be removed.

The removal process is comprised of removing the casing, the surface well equipment and cementing the hole shut.

Feel free to reach out to us with questions or other topics you’d like to see covered.

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