​​​​Idle Well Program

Idle wells are those which are not in use for production, injection, or other purposes but also have not been permanently sealed. Wells that are idle long-term can deteriorate if not maintained and become a potential public safety or environmental problem. It is possible an operator could go out of business and leave idle wells for others to rectify. Since 1977, California has permanently sealed about 1,400 wells lacking a responsible operator at a cost of $29.5 million (the money comes from an assessment on the oil and gas industry).

The Department of Conservation, Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has changed the definition of idle wells from five years of no productivity to two years of no productivity, in response to legislation. About 29,000 wells now fall into that category. The State is revamping idle well regulations with the goal of reducing that inventory.

Program Updates for Operators

  • Idle well fees are due by July 23, 2018. Idle Well Fee Letters will be reissued on June 22, 2018 in response to the inventory revision. Operators with an approved Idle Well Management Plan may request a revised fee letter for their records.
  • The 2017 Calendar Year Idle Well Inventory has been revised. This inventory contains all wells that were idle at any point in the 2017 calendar year, per the change in definition of "idle well" as part of AB 2729. Operators who find their inventory to be in error can request a review by completing and submitting the Inventory Error form.
  • The schedule for proposed Idle Well regulations has been revised following multiple briefings. The modified draft will be available for comment mid-summer of 2018.