The oil and gas industry argues that orphan wells are not a concern to surface rights owners, citizens and taxpayers. First, they say that most oil and gas wells are plugged by operators in accordance with laws that require operators to plug wells that no longer produce oil or gas in order to prevent them from polluting land, air or groundwater. Second, they say that in those rare instances when operators do not follow the law, industry-funded state orphan well programs pay to plug orphaned wells at no cost to taxpayers. In other words, industry always pays its debts, one way or another. Some regulators parrot this line of thinking. See Wayne Christian: Claims about plugging of wells off base, inaccurate.
The ARO User Manual and the following frequently asked questions can help you scrutinize the Industry’s claims.