Oil, Gas, and Geothermal - Idle Well Program
Idle Well Program & AB 2729
On September 9, 2016, Governor Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 2729 (Williams, Salas, and Thurmond; Chapter 272, Statutes of 2016). The intended purpose of Assembly Bill 2729 is to reduce the state’s inventory of idle wells and to ensure protection of public health and the environment. The Division will accomplish this through a robust regulatory scheme that encourages operators to reactivate or permanently plug and abandon idle wells.
A portion of the bill’s requirements took effect on January 1, 2017. Most of the new requirements, however, will not go into effect until January 1, 2018. This lag time will provide the Division with the time needed to develop the Idle Well Program and promulgate idle well regulations, as well as preparation time for operators to adapt to the new requirements.
To track the number of idle wells in the state, the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources maintains an annual idle well inventory that may be downloaded in
Acrobat PDF or Excel formats.
For questions or comments please refer to the FAQ or contact the Idle Well Program at
Changes Effective January 1, 2017
Effective January 1, 2017, an idle well is defined as:
"[a]ny well that has not been used for the production of oil and gas, the production of water for the purposes of enhanced oil recovery or reservoir pressure management, or injection for a period of 24 consecutive months." (Pub. Resources Code, § 3008, subd. (d).)
Effective January 1, 2017, a
long-term idle well is now defined as:
"[a]ny well that has been an idle well for eight or more years." (Pub. Resources Code, § 3008, subd. (e).)
Effective January 1, 2017, an
active observation well is now defined as:
"[a] well being used for the sole purpose of gathering reservoir data, such as pressure or temperature in a reservoir being currently produced or injected by the operator. For a well to be an active observation well, the operator shall demonstrate to the division's satisfaction that the well fulfills a need for gathering reservoir data, and the operator shall provide the division with a summary report of the type of data collected at least annually or as requested by the division." (Pub. Resources Code, § 3008, subd. (c).)
Changes Effective January 1, 2018
Beginning January 1, 2018, all operators must either:
1) Submit an idle well management plan (IWMP) for the management and elimination of all long-term idle wells. Or,
2) Pay annual fees for each idle well by January 31 of each year.
(Pub. Resources Code, § 3206.)
The IWMP, idle well fee requirements, and other information about new requirements can be found in the Notice to Operators
Idle Well Management Plans
Operators who choose to submit an IWMP must comply with the following long-term idle well elimination rates and terms:
- Operators with 250 or fewer idle wells are required to eliminate 4 percent of their long-term idle wells each year and in no case less than 1 long-term idle well.
- Operators with 251 - 1,250 idle wells are required to eliminate 5 percent of their long-term idle wells each year and, in no case less than 1 long-term idle well.
- Operators with 1,251 or more idle wells are required to eliminate 6 percent of their long-term idle wells each year and in no case less than 1 long-term idle well.
The IWMP is to cover no more than five years, and it is subject to supervisor approval and annual review. Operators that fail to comply with the plan will lose the option to file a new plan for the next five years and will be subject to idle well fees for each year the operator failed to comply with the plan. (Pub. Resources Code, § 3206, subd. (a)(2)(B).)
Operators who choose to pay idle well fees shall file an annual fee with the Division no later than January 31 of each year for each well that was idle in the last calendar year. Idle well fees are as follows:
- One hundred fifty dollars ($150) for each well that has been an idle well for three years or longer, but less than eight years.
- Three hundred dollars ($300) for each well that has been an idle well for eight years or longer, but less than 15 years.
- Seven hundred fifty dollars ($750) for each well that has been an idle well for 15 years or longer, but less than 20 years.
- One thousand five hundred dollars ($1,500) for each idle well that has been an idle well for over 20 years or longer.
(Pub. Resources Code, § 3206, subd. (a).)
Idle Well Regulation Development
AB 2729 mandates that the Division review, evaluate, and update its regulations pertaining to idle wells by June 1, 2018. This update is to include idle well testing and management requirements that meet minimum requirements prescribed in the bill.
An informal public workshop was held in Bakersfield on July 14, 2017 in order to review the discussion draft of the proposed Requirements for Idle Well Testing and Management. The informal public comment period ended on August 21, 2017 and these comments are currently under review.
Please refer back to this section as it will be updated as the rule-making process progresses. The discussion draft of the Requirement for Idle Well Testing and Management can be found