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September 10, 2007
In Reply Refer To:
3100 (310) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2007-192
Expires: 09/30/2008
To:                   All Field Officials
From:               Director
Subject:            Priority Ranking for Orphaned and Idled Wells; Section 349(b) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct)
Program Area: Oil and Gas
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) directs the field offices (FO) to rank all orphaned and idled oil, gas or service wells on Federal land. This ranking program is required by Section 349 (b)(1) of the EPAct.  
Policy/Action: The policy and goal of this program is to prioritize and manage those idled and orphaned wells on Federal lands for remediation, reclamation and closure. For the purpose of this IM, Federal land means land, surface or subsurface, administered by the land management agencies within the Department of the Interior [including the National Park Service (NPS), the Fish or Wildlife Service (FWS), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)]; or by the U. S. Forest Service (FS). 
It is the responsibility of each FO to use the well priority rankings to establish and to take action to have orphaned wells properly plugged and the surface reclaimed, and have idled wells either plugged or returned to production or service use.
-         Attachment 1, “Definitions For Spreadsheets” provides definitions and related information to be used for this program;
-         Attachment 2, “Well Plugging and Reclamation Priority Determination Procedures” provides additional guidance for the program;
       -    Attachment 3, “Property Specific Summary” for any property containing idled wells;   
       -    Attachment 4, “Idled Well Scoring Checklist” and Attachment 5 “Individual Idled Wells by Office”. FO staff is instructed to complete these two attachments and assign a priority rating 1 to 3 to all of its idled wells; and 
      -    Attachment 6, “Orphaned Wells by Office” and Attachment 7, “Orphaned Well Scoring Checklist”. FO staff is instructed to complete these two attachments which will provide data to the Washington Office (WO). The WO staff will review the information, develop a nationwide priority listing for all Federal orphaned wells, and allocate available WO-310 funds to properly plug and reclaim the surface of such wells.
-         Attachments 8a and 8b are nationwide spreadsheets from the Automated Fluid Minerals
      Support System (AFMSS), listing Federal idled and orphaned wells. These sheets
      provide the FO with a starting point for its idled and orphaned wells, however, they
      should notbeconsidered as all-inclusive sheets of such wells under the FO’s     
      jurisdiction. These sheets can be accessed electronically. 
Much of the information for completing Attachments 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 will be contained in, and accessed from, AFMSS. However, populating the referenced attachments from the data in AFMSS may take some specialized effort.  Contact the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) AFMSS Administrator, Caroline Larson, (406) 233-3655 for instructions and guidance for this process.  
After the FO enters the data on the Attachment(s), if any such wells/leases listed involve BIA, NPS, FWS or FS lands, the FO is instructed to forward a copy of the Attachment(s) to that appropriate office for its review and additions. The FO is the office of record for the completed Attachments.
Each FO is instructed to provide electronic copies of completed Attachments 5, 6 and 7 to the WO.   Please send these items to Division of Fluid Minerals, (WO-310), Attention:  Rudy Baier. The checklists/worksheets to be used for obtaining and tabulating the well and property data are available in electronic format from the electronic version of this IM.
Also, each FO is to provide a copy of an Action Plan, including a timeline, to have its current inventory of idled wells properly plugged or returned to production (or service use). The Action Plan must also discuss the FO’s plan to manage wells which become idled in the future.  
Timeframe: The initial copies of Attachments 5, 6 and 7 are due in WO-310 by November 30, 2007. The Action Plan is due by December 30, 2007. Due to expected workload issues in some offices, time extensions may be granted upon request. Annual updates of the aforementioned attachments are due by September 30 of each year after 2007.   
Budget Impact: The workload for completing the initial attachments and developing and pursuing the Action Plan will be significant.  Thereafter, the workload updating the number of idled wells as reported in the attachments and addressing newly idled and orphaned wells, will become less significant. Additional funding has been provided in the 2007 Annual Work Plan for those states with a large number of idled wells as reported in AFMSS. Future funding will be based on your idled well inventory and priorities.  
Background:  Section 349 of the EPAct requires the Secretary of the Interior, in cooperation with the Secretary of Agriculture, to establish a program to remediate, reclaim, and close orphaned or idled oil and gas wells located on land administered by the land management agencies within the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. The EPAct further states that the program shall include a means of ranking such wells for priority in remediation, reclamation, and closure, based on public health and safety, potential environmental harm, and other land use priorities. A team from the BLM Washington, New Mexico and Wyoming Offices and the FS was formed and developed the referenced attachments. Those attachments were sent to several New Mexico, Wyoming and California offices for review and field testing. Comments received from those offices were considered and incorporated, as the team deemed appropriate, into the final versions that are attached herewith.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: None
Coordination: This IM was coordinated with the FS (Headquarters and Region 8) and several BLM New Mexico, Wyoming and California offices. Also, the Department of Energy and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission were consulted.
Contact: Rudy Baier, Senior Specialist Operations, (WO-310), at 202-452-5024; or by e-mail at rudy _baier@blm.gov
Signed by:
Authenticated by:
Henri R. Bisson
Robert M. Williams
Acting, Director
Division of IRM Governance,WO-560
8 Attachments
      8 - Nationwide Spreadsheets from AFMSS (Microsoft Excel) (Sent under separate cover)

Last updated: 10-21-2009