The Arizona Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is working in partnership with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) to plug, abandon and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells and well sites on State and private land across the state. This work is being funded by a $25 million competitive grant awarded to ADEQ on behalf of AZOGCC by the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law | Learn More >
What are orphaned wells and why do they need to be properly plugged?
Orphaned wells are oil and gas wells that are not plugged, not producing, and have no owner or responsible party, so they are wards of the State or other government entities. In Arizona, the majority of these wells were drilled for oil, natural gas, potash (a mineral used in fertilizer) and helium.
Orphaned wells may provide a pathway from the wellbore for oil, gas, and other fluids to move underground between different layers, into groundwater, and/or to the land surface. Unplugged or improperly plugged orphaned wells can also be a potential route for methane to move to the air from the wellbore, contributing to increased levels of greenhouse gasses | View AZ Potential Orphaned Wells >
What do orphaned wells look like?
Orphaned oil and gas wells generally can be identified by the presence of industrial equipment or facilities at the surface, like tall metal pipes. Orphaned well sites can have a broad range of appearances, from deserted oil and gas production equipment to an open hole in the ground | View Examples >
About the Program
ADEQ’s Orphaned Well Program is working to confirm orphaned oil and gas wells located on State and private land and mitigate potential safety, public health and environmental risks (the potential for soil, water, air emissions). Many of the potential orphaned wells that ADEQ identified were drilled in the early 1900s, before Arizona established oil and gas regulations. It is likely that some of these wells were not properly plugged.
The initial records research conducted in 2022 indicates 246 potential orphan wells in Arizona, but there could be more and we encourage community members to report potential orphan wells so that we can further investigate* | Learn More >
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Think you found an orphaned well? Let us know! | Report a Well >
*Please note, wells located on federal or Tribal lands are not covered under the grant and therefore are not part of the program.