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Foundation plans to plug 24 'orphan wells' in northern Montana

Helping landowners cap 'orphaned' wells in Montana
Orphan Well
Posted at 9:14 AM, May 24, 2024

GREAT FALLS — The Well Done Foundation, a national nonprofit whose mission is to plug orphaned oil and gas wells across the United States, announced this week its plans to plug 24 legacy orphan wells in Toole County and Glacier County in 2024.

An orphaned oil well is a well that was once used by oil and gas drilling companies to retrieve those fossil fuels from the earth, but has since been abandoned. Companies can decide to orphan wells for a number of reasons, including struggling oil prices and bankruptcy.

The Well Done Foundation said in a news release that last year, with the help of Calgary-based 360 Environmental Engineering and North Dakota-based Precision Well Services, the WDF plugged a total of 12 orphan wells in Montana, seven of which were included as part of its 2023 Montana Legacy Project.

    These orphan wells were estimated to generate more than 200,000 verifiable, high-quality, emission reduction tons (ERT) with the ACR, as project ACR946.
    Orphaned oil and gas wells are estimated to contribute 20-30% of methane leaks in the US and plugging them has an immediate impact on the environment.

    “Once part of the black gold boom in the 1920’s in Montana, these oil and gas wells fell to economic hardship, became wards of the state and were designated ‘orphan wells’,” said Curtis Shuck, founder of Well Done Foundation. “Our mission is focused on a second boom populated with these wells and how plugging them will contribute to the elimination of point source pollution, restore impacted properties, benefit undeserved communities, and dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” added Shuck.

    Since 2019, the WDF has plugged more than 45 wells in five states, with 26 of those wells located in Toole and Glacier Counties.

    The plugging of the orphan wells has eliminated methane emissions measured at over 1 million metric tons, making a difference one well at a time.

    To learn more, click here to visit the website.