The Indian Energy Service Center (IESC) serves as the Bureau Indian Affairs (BIA) office that is responsible for coordinating Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) funding and program activities for Tribal orphaned well plugging and abandonment, provided under Section 40601 of the IIJA.
Signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021, the IIJA defines an orphaned well as a well that is not used for an authorized purpose—such as production, injection, or monitoring—and for which no operator can be located, or the well operator is unable to plug the well and remediate and reclaim the well site. The IIJA provides up to $150 million in federal funding for the purpose of plugging orphaned wells and remediating and reclaiming orphaned well sites on Tribal lands.
While the Department of the Interior (DOI) policy and practice is to ensure that oil and gas wells and well sites on federal and Tribal lands are plugged, remediated, and reclaimed at the end of their productive lives, some wells have become orphaned throughout the United States’ long history of oil and gas development. These orphaned wells pose risks to human health and the environment.
The IIJA funding available to plug, remediate, and reclaim orphaned wells and well sites offers a historic opportunity to mitigate the adverse impacts and risks that orphaned wells pose on Tribal land. The IIJA provides funding to benefit-eligible Tribes via two means:
- Upon successful completion of a grant application and selection by DOI, an eligible Tribe may directly receive and use grant funding to perform the plugging, remediation, and reclamation of orphaned wells on its lands, either through a Tribally owned entity or through the services of a contractor procured by the Tribe to perform the work.
- Alternatively, an eligible Tribe may request that DOI perform the plugging, remediation, and reclamation of orphaned wells and well sites on its lands on the Tribe’s behalf.
Tribal Orphaned Well Grants
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) provides $150M for Tribal well plugging, remediation, and restoration. Tribes may seek funding to undertake the well plugging or may request that the Secretary administer the well plugging on behalf of the Tribe. The Office of Environmental Policy & Compliance (OEPC) has worked closely with the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Indian Energy Service Center to develop the following:
- Dear Tribal Leader Letter: Deadline Extended to February 21, 2023 (1/11/23)
- FY23 Tribal Orphaned Well Grant Guidance
- Biden-Harris Administration Makes $50 Million Available to Clean Up Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells on Tribal Lands
- Tribal Webinar and Office Hours Flyer
- Dear Tribal Leader Letter (4/26/22)
- Biden-Harris Administration Releases Draft Guidance on New Tribal Orphaned Well Program
Orphaned Well Grant Application Deadline Extended to February 21, 2023
Open office hours for Orphan Well Tribal Grant technical assistance will be offered online on Wednesdays at 10:00 AM MST from January 25 to February 15. See below for online meeting times and links: