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Abandoned wells and cleanup issues beginning to surface

BISMARCK - Financial constraints on the oil industry have contributed to more problems with abandoned wells not being properly restored, state regulators say. The North Dakota Industrial Commission has active complaints against four separate comp...

 

 

BISMARCK – Financial constraints on the oil industry have contributed to more problems with abandoned wells not being properly restored, state regulators say.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission has active complaints against four separate companies for issues related to reclamation.

The Department of Mineral Resources attributes the increase in reclamation complaints to the slowdown in the oil industry coupled with reclamation costs that are reportedly up, spokeswoman Alison Ritter said.

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“When you have reclamation costs that are up and financial constraints, companies just aren’t heeding our warning to get a site cleaned up,” Ritter said.

In addition, the state is now more actively enforcing reclamation issues because the department added a second reclamation specialist earlier this year with new funds from the state Legislature, Ritter said.

The department contacts the companies first in an attempt to get the sites reclaimed before issuing a complaint, Ritter said.

The Industrial Commission has issued complaints against these companies:

- Key Energy Services is facing up to $887,500 in fines for charges relating to saltwater disposal wells the company owns in Burke and Mountrail counties. The Industrial Commission alleges that the company failed to plug and abandon wells that are no longer being used and reclaim the sites.

In a legal response, Key denied the allegations and requested that the complaint be dismissed.

- Strike Oil Inc. could face up to $550,000 in fines for several wells in Bottineau and Renville counties the Industrial Commission says were not properly plugged and reclaimed.

- Earthstone Energy Inc. is facing up to $212,500 in fines for a well in Stark County that was plugged and abandoned in 1997 but the Industrial commission alleges it was not properly reclaimed. The company also denies the allegations in a response to the complaint.

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- Jettison Inc. faces a potential fine of $25,000 for not completing reclamation on a well in Billings County that was plugged and abandoned in October 2012.

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