Clean up your mess, O&G |

Clean up your mess, O&G

As children we were taught to clean up after ourselves. Put your dishes in the sink. Pick up your toys.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is telling the oil and gas industry make all the mess you want and the Colorado taxpayers will pick up the majority of the tab for the cleanup when the wells run dry.

The commission’s new draft rules for oil and gas drilling operations have no set amount for financial assurances put down by the industry to pay for plugging orphaned wells, some 1,500 statewide, that are and will emit massive amounts of methane. Instead, plugging fees would be based on estimates determined by the industry. You can bet those approximations will be low-ball.

Further, the new proposed rules would allow blanket bonding which would cover tens of thousands of wells instead of a well-by-well assessment. Previous preliminary rules called for a $78,000 single well financial assurance. Similar bonds in Alaska go for $100,000.

The industry says there’s no problem with orphaned wells and a bond would drive them into bankruptcy. Both of those statements can’t be true. If there’s no issue, the financial assurances will be refunded.

It’s becoming increasingly clear the COGCC is listening only to the industry and not the climate and environmental groups that’re advising them during the rule-making process. These groups are asking for single well financial assurance of $282,000. In fact, none of their recommendations are showing up in the draft rules.

There will be another set of draft rules in December before they’re set in stone early next year. Before that, there’ll be a hybrid (in person and Zoom) COGCC meeting specifically on the financial assurances issue at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday. Sign up to give public comment or written responses at

Fred Malo Jr.



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