More than 16,000 abandoned or orphaned well sites have been restored to their natural beauty thanks to voluntary contributions from Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners.
The promise to restore well sites was made with the OERB’s inception 25 years ago. Since then, well sites have been restored in 71 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
Doyle and Brenda Burden of Weleetka in Okfuskee County is one Oklahoma family who benefited from this program. Their property was home to a decades-old, abandoned well site that left a large area of saltwater erosion.
Over the course of nine months, the OERB restored their property at no cost to the Burden’s or Oklahoma’s taxpayers.
“I just couldn’t be happier with what the OERB has done,” Doyle said. “And it was all free. How can you ask for anything more?”
Before the OERB, no other agencies were responsible for cleaning up abandoned well sites left by companies that had long since disappeared, many from the 1900s to 1940s, or went bankrupt. Farmers and ranchers had to work around concrete structures, saltwater erosion and dangerous equipment.
“We wanted to do something,” said Pete Brown, one of the OERB’s founders. “We wanted to do something that demonstrated we were concerned about the state of Oklahoma.”
The OERB oversees a four-step restoration process that follows recognized environmental standards adapted to meet the needs of individual landowners. Over the course of months, the OERB’s environmental contractor, Beacon Environmental, puts together a scope of work and oversees contractors as they remove or bury location pads, equipment, concrete and debris, and repair erosion and saltwater “scars” left on the land.
The OERB has spent nearly $111 million, funded by a voluntary tax assessment paid by Oklahoma’s oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners, on restoration efforts to date. Two to three sites are restored each day, with up to 800 sites restored each year.
If you would like to register an abandoned well site for clean up or would like more information about the program, visit OERB.com/restoration.
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