DOE Laboratories Locate and Characterize Undocumented Orphan Wells

On November 15, 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was signed by President Biden. Within the BIL was language requesting the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) collaborate with the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) to develop a Program focused around reducing the impact of undocumented orphaned wells (UOWs). Generally, orphaned wells are defined as an idle well for which the operator is unknown or insolvent. It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of UOWs leaking methane in the United States (U.S.) with unknown locations and missing information such as ownership or construction details. The estimated number of UOWs reported by states is between 210,000 and 746,000. The BIL provides investments to plug these UOWs, which will help communities reduce methane emissions and eliminate other environmental impacts. The $30 million CATALOG Program assists in identifying and characterizing the environmental risks of UOWs. This investment is part of the Administration’s overall response in remediating environmental concerns, addressing legacy pollution that harms communities, creating good-paying jobs, and advancing long overdue environmental justice.

Planned Field Demonstrations by Region

CATALOG consists of 5 focus areas:

Methane Detection and Quantification

Well Identification

Sensor Fusion and Data Integration

Well Characterization

Best Practices for States to Employ

CATALOG’s Workflow & Approach