Abandoned Well Plugging FAQs
What determines a well Abandoned?
The State of Kansas Oil and Gas regulation KSA 55-179 states that a well is considered “abandoned” when there is no responsible party for said well and is not claimed on an active commission operator’s license. These wells are either unplugged, improperly plugged, or no longer effectively plugged. If a responsible party for the well exists, they must demonstrate they are no longer financially capable of appropriately plugging the well.
How can I become a Certified Plugging Contractor?
To bid on state plugging projects, you must first register to become a certified plugging contractor on the Department of Administration website:
After registration is complete, locate the contract and submit all required documentation. This process can be completed in five easy steps. Additional information, instructions, and contact information can be found on our website under “Apply to Become a Contractor.”
The KCC is currently looking for plugging contractors to participate in the State Abandoned Well Plugging Program. Once certified, each contractor will be able to submit a plugging bid for any available projects.
What type of contracts are available?
Contracts are developed on a case by case basis and as needed. Most contracts are classified under the following:
- Federal Well Plugging Program contracts
- State Well Plugging Program contracts
- Site Remediation (KSA 55-180b) Project contracts
- Specialized RFP Project contracts
What is the difference between the State Plugging Program and the Federal Plugging Program?
The State Plugging Program and the Federal Plugging Program share the same goal: to plug abandoned wells in the State of Kansas. In order to do this, these two (2) programs were created with different requirements, needs, and monetary funds.
The Abandoned Oil and Gas Well/ Site Remediation Fund was established in 1996 to address the problem of abandoned oil and gas wells and remediation sites related to oil and gas exploration and production activities. The KCC created the State Plugging Program to utilize this state fund through plugging projects and state contract guidelines. To be a part of the State Plugging Programs contractors must register to become a certified plugging contractor. Once certified, plugging contractors will have the opportunity to bid on any state plugging project that becomes available through the life of that contract.
The Federal Plugging Program was created in 2021 when the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) (Public Law 117-58) was signed into law. With the creation of this law, the Department of Interior was given the ability to help individual states with their abandoned well plugging, remediation, and reclamation programs within their state. Since the Federal Plugging Program is a federally funded program, the federal government regulations and fund acceptance will apply. Specific requirements such as the Davis Bacon Act and the submission of specific data reports are required.
Do I have to bid on the entire contract or well project?
Yes, contractors have to bid on the entire contract or well project unless specified in the plugging package.
What happens to the equipment left at an Abandoned Well Plugging Location?
All equipment left at an Abandoned Well Plugging project site will be collected by the state assigned plugging contractor. Equipment will be collected and placed in one central location for easy access. After the project is complete District staff will take inventory of equipment to be sold in the future. The proceeds from the sale of salvage equipment are deposited into the Abandoned Well Plugging and Site Remediation fund.
Can the left over Salvage equipment be purchased?
The KCC Abandoned Well Plugging Department has teamed up with Purple Wave online auction services to liquidate remaining salvage equipment. To ensure equal opportunity, equipment is auctioned off to the highest bidder using a sealed bid process.
Current salvage postings can be found on the Salvage Opportunities webpage of the KCC Abandoned Well Plugging website: https://kcc.ks.gov/oil-gas/oil-field-salvage-opportunities
To be notified when future Abandoned Well Salvage equipment becomes available, contact us at:
If I find a well on my property that appears to be abandoned, what should I do?
If a well is found and appears to be abandoned it must be reported to the KCC. Reports can be made by contacting the district office the well is located in or by filling out the Abandoned Well Reporting Form located on the KCC’s website.
- Legal description of the acreage where the well is located
- Contact information
A field agent may contact you for additional information to facilitate the KCC’s investigation.
Who is responsible for plugging abandoned wells on my property?
That question must be answered on a case-by-case basis after reviewing available records concerning the well. However, in general, the current or last operator of the well is responsible for properly plugging the well. If no responsible party for the well can be located, the Conservation Division has a fund for plugging abandoned wells. When wells are plugged using money from this fund, plugging is based on a priority system considering the wells age, construction, effect on the environment, and effect on public safety.
As a landowner, can I be responsible for plugging abandoned wells on my property?
If a landowner finds an abandoned well(s) on their property, it is the responsibility of the landowner to report the well(s) using the Abandoned Well Reporting Form or by contacting your local District Office.
Landowner should not tamper with the well(s) or its immediate surroundings for any reason unless authorized by KCC staff. Once reported, the KCC will determine who the responsible party of the well(s) is and what future steps will be taken.
K.S.A. 55-179(b)(6) states that any person that does any of the following to an abandoned well without authorization from the commission: (A) Tampers with or removes surface or downhole equipment that was physically attached to the well or inside the well bore; (B) intentionally destroys, buries or damages the well; (C) intentionally alters the physical status of the well in a manner that will result in more than a de minimis increase in plugging costs; or (D) conducts any physical operations upon the well.
When is a well considered to be abandoned?
A well is legally considered abandoned when the wells have not been in use for a specific amount of time:
- 90 days for wells not fully equipped for immediate service
- 365 days for fully equipped wells that have not been granted temporary abandonment status by the Conservation Division
If I'm the landowner but not the mineral owner and there are wells operating on my property, how can I find out who the operator is?
If there are oil wells and/or tanks on the property associated with the wells, there should be an operator sign on or near the tanks with information about the current operator. If it is a gas well, there may be no identification with the well. You can call the Conservation Division or the appropriate district office for assistance. You will need to provide the legal description for the well's location.