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Does the Railroad Commission have to plug P-13 wells?

A good article in Texas Tribune about the growing problem of P-13 wells that are leaking and contaminating land and groundwater.

When an oil and gas operator drills a dry hole or decides to abandon a well, instead of plugging the well it can transfer the well to the surface owner to re-complete as a water well. The parties file a Form P-13 with the Railroad Commission to accomplish that change in ownership. The Commission and the operator contend that the surface owner then becomes responsible for plugging the well. But apparently the law is not so clear on the issue. The Middle Pecos Groundwater District contends that some 40 P-13 wells in its area are the responsibility of the Railroad Commission to plug as orphan wells. The problem is exacerbated by operators using a shallow formation to dispose of produced water; the formation is pressured up and unplugged P-13 wells become a conduit for flowing polluted salt water to come up the wellbore.


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