North Dakota will seek federal funds to continue and expand its oil well plugging and reclamation program.
The new federal infrastructure bill provides $ 4 billion to clean up abandoned oil and gas sites.
The state’s director of mineral resources, Lynn Helms, said the state plans to seek an initial grant of $ 25 million.
“This is so that we can do a lot of work in 2022,” Helms said.
Helms said the state will also seek money through Formula Grants, which will run until 2030.
This means that the few hundred unused or orphaned wells that we get will be taken care of with federal funding, ”Helms said.
Helms said the federal program mirrors what North Dakota has done with CARES law money. This money was intended to keep oil workers employed and in the state. He said in this situation the schedule was tight and regulators overestimated the amount of reclamation work that could be done in the last six months of the year, even during a mild winter.
“You can very quickly demobilize the equipment, clean it and eliminate any potential for future contamination, as well as remove the coating material,” Helms said. “But the season to reclaim the site, test for contamination and clean it up, and reclaim the topsoil, is a four to five month season in North Dakota, and it could take several years.”
The state has plugged more than 300 wells in the past two years. Clean-up work is continuing.