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LEMOINE + project partners set record pace for orphaned well plugging in Louisiana

Orphaned Louisiana Wells
Photo: Shutterstock

In a recent press release, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Tom Harris announced 300 orphaned wells plugged with Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding in the last 4.5 months.  LEMOINE Disaster Services is one of the two primary contractors for the project, focusing on the Shreveport, Louisiana district.  

This number of wells plugged – 300 – surpasses the record of most wells plugged by the state Oilfield Site Restoration (OSR) program in previous years. The previous record was 280 completed in Fiscal year 1998–1999, and nearly doubles the average OSR fully-year plugging figures for the last few years.

Orphaned wells are abandoned or inactive oil and gas wells.  They present environmental risks that require careful remediation. LEMOINE’s disaster and environmental services expertise and project management and coordination continue to significantly contribute to the success of the program. 

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Photo: Getty Images

Orphaned wells are a long-time concern in Louisiana

With thousands of abandoned wells scattered across the state, orphaned wells have long been a concern in Louisiana. If left unplugged, these wells can contaminate groundwater and surface water sources, leak oil, and emit methane, posing a threat to the environment. The responsibility of plugging these wells falls upon specialized contractors equipped with the necessary skills, equipment, and knowledge to address the issue safely and effectively.

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Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Hebert

Environmental impact and importance

The plugging of orphaned wells holds immense environmental significance. If left unattended, these wells can leak hazardous pollutants into the environment, endangering ecosystems and communities. Through their diligent efforts, LEMOINE is actively mitigating the environmental risks associated with orphaned wells and contributing to the preservation of Louisiana’s natural resources.

With LEMOINE’s ongoing efforts, we can look forward to a cleaner and safer future for Louisiana.

Orphaned LA wells
Photo: Bill Fieg

Remarkable efforts

Recognized for dedication to environmental responsibility, and surpassing estimated project milestones, LEMOINE has emerged as a leading contractor in tackling the plugging of orphaned wells.

“The contractors and their crews have worked hard to help us make these BIL dollars count. We’ve been fortunate to have favorable weather this spring and these folks have made the most of it,” DNR Secretary Tom Harris said. “They have set a record pace for orphaned well plugging in our state, helping us take full advantage of the opportunity presented by having such a large inflow of available funding.”

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Photo: Cooper Neill

Funding and future project goals

Louisiana received an initial $25 million grant of BIL funding to address the state’s orphaned wells in October 2022, and DNR selected its two primary contractors in December 2022. The first well was plugged in Caddo Pine Island Field in Caddo Parish on January 17, 2023. 

The Initial Grant is more than doubles the average annual amount of funding for the regular state Oilfield Site Restoration, with which the state Office of Conservation has plugged an average of about 160 wells a year depending on weather, environmental factors, and prioritization of funds for emergency response.

BIL funding is being administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) as part of an overall $1.15 billion announced in January 2022 for states to plug and remediate orphaned wells. Although the DOI has not yet released all the information, it has hinted that states will receive more funding phases this year.

Louisiana still has roughly 4,500 orphaned wells that need plugging, primarily located in north Louisiana. You can use the State of Louisiana’s BIL Dashboard to see an interactive map of BIL projects broken down by type and congressional district. 

Click here to see the original press release from the Office of the Governor: 

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