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Completed New York Works Well Plugging Projects

Orphan and abandoned wells may present a threat to public safety and the environment. These wells have an increased potential to leak gas and inadequately contained wellbore fluids such as oil and brine. Utilizing funding from the New York Works Well Plugging Initiative (NYWWPI), the following projects have mitigated these threats by properly plugging orphan and abandoned wells.

Baldwinsville Well Plugging Project

County: Onondaga; Towns: Village of Baldwinsville, Towns of Lysander and Van Buren

Wells Plugged: 6 Gas Wells

Plug Date: 3/27/2017 - 7/25/2017

The project included the plugging of six abandoned gas wells located in Onondaga County. There were limited records for the wells associated with the plugging project. Three of the wells were drilled in the late 1890s, while the remaining three wells were drilled in the 1960s. The wells were drilled to total depths between 1,200 and 3,000 feet to target the Trenton, Medina, or Queenston Formations. After being abandoned by their original operators, these wells were left unmaintained for decades causing leaks and potential structural integrity issues posed a threat to public safety and the environment. The Morse 1 well was leaking natural gas less than 5 feet from a building. Similarly, the Dowe 2 was also leaking natural gas less than 15 feet from a building. Plugging operations were made more challenging due to methane encountered in the Lockport formation at shallow depths. For example, after the surface plug was set in the Unknown Well, natural gas was observed flowing through the cement to the surface. Additional efforts involving the re-setting of cement plugs were required to ensure the successful plugging of the well.

The Morse 1 well was located less than 5 feet from nearby building. Photo of well prior to well plugging.
Morse 1 (API # 31-067-02384-00-00)
prior to well plugging.
Plugging operations began and the contractor prepared the wellsite. Photo of well during well plugging.
Rig and equipment were mobilized to the Morse 1 wellsite,
and well plugging operations began.

Unknown Well in excessive vegetation. Well prior to well plugging.
Unknown Well
(API # 31-067-61608-00-00)
prior to well plugging.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Site of the Unknown Well after plugging operations were
completed. The surrounding area was reclaimed to the
landowner's specifications.


Moose Oil Wells - Package 1 Well Plugging Project

County: Allegany; Town: Bolivar

Wells Plugged: 73 Oil and Injection Wells

Plug Date: 6/30/2016 - 5/18/2017

The project comprised the plugging of 73 oil development and injection wells. The contract specifically targeted wells located on the Bradensbrook, Hoover, McCarthy, and Myrtle leases formerly operated by the Moose Oil Company. The wells and associated leases were abandoned decades before the commencement of Department plugging operations. Project development began with the Department's well inspections, which documented a substantial number of wells in an advanced state of disrepair. Some of the wells were actively leaking oil and/or, brine, while other wells exhibited dried ("caked") oil on the wellheads, evidencing past leaks. Abandoned wells have an increased potential for leaking and inadequately containing wellbore fluids, thus presenting a public safety and environmental threat. As the project included a large number of wells and disturbed more than an acre of land, staff developed a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan to mitigate erosion and sedimentation during wellsite preparation, plugging, and reclamation operations.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Myrtle 69 (API # 31-003-61017-00-
00) prior to well plugging.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Rig and equipment were mobilized
to complete plugging.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation.
After plugging operations were completed, wellsites were reclaimed
to match the surrounding landscape.


F. E. Petroleum / Merrill Resources Inc. Lawrence Lease Well Plugging Project

County: Cattaraugus; Town: Farmersville

Wells Plugged: 9 Oil Wells

Plug Date: 12/5/2016- 1/5/2017

The project entailed the plugging of nine abandoned oil development wells located on the Lawrence Lease, formerly operated by two long-defunct companies, F.E. Petroleum Corp. and Merrill Resources Inc. The wells were drilled between 1974 and 1981 to an average depth of approximately 500 feet. The Lawrence Lease had been abandoned by the former operators for decades prior to the commencement of Department plugging operations. As a result, the wells were not properly maintained and overgrown vegetation precluded easy access for inspections. Abandoned wells can present a significant risk to public safety and the environment, as they may leak oil, brine, and/or other fluids, to surface and subsurface resources.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Lawrence 1 (API # 31-009-10971-00-00) prior to well plugging.
Well is surrounded by excessive vegetation and debris.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Rig and equipment were mobilized to complete plugging
operations on the Lawrence Lease wells.


City of Elmira Well Plugging Project

Counties: Chemung and Steuben; Towns: City of Elmira, Towns of Southport and Hornby

Wells Plugged: 5 Gas Wells

Plug Date: 5/18/2016 - 9/15/2016

The project comprised the plugging of five abandoned gas wells that were located in or near the City of Elmira. Completed between 1940 and 1941, the wells targeted the Oriskany formation, and were drilled to depths ranging from 2,740 to 3,230 feet. The wells had been abandoned by their original operators for decades prior to Department plugging operations. Local fire officials had received complaints from residents because vandals periodically set the Mangin well on fire. In response to these complaints and safety concerns, the City of Elmira Well Plugging Project was developed. Due to the advanced age, lack of maintenance, and proximity to residential dwellings, these abandoned wells posed a significant threat to public health and the environment.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Mangin (API # 31-015-00606-00-00)
on fire prior to plugging.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Rig and equipment were mobilized
to the wellsite to complete plugging.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation.
After the Mangin was successfully plugged, the wellsite
was reclaimed to match the surrounding landscape.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Malacoccio 1 (API # 31-015-00613-
00-00) prior to plugging.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Malacoccio 1 wellsite being prepared
for plugging operations.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation.
After the Malacoccio 1 was successfully plugged, the wellsite
was reclaimed to match the surrounding landscape.


Davis Well Plugging Project

County: Steuben; Town: Cameron

Well Name: Hall 1

Plug Date: 7/15/2015 - 7/17/2015

The project comprised plugging a 3,900-foot Oriskany gas well that had been leaking natural gas and flowing brine to the North Branch of Tuscarora Creek for decades. To compound the situation, an adjoining landowner had connected a large propane tank and fittings to the leaking well to provide natural gas service to his residence and initially resisted Department efforts to plug the well. Division of Mineral Resources staff coordinated with the Division of Law Enforcement in an effort to defuse any potential confrontations with the landowner during the plugging process. After setting the production zone plug and effectively "killing" the well, a small gas leak was detected outside the surface casing that had been installed to stabilize the well for plugging. Department staff performed additional monitoring, and the plugging contractor then returned to the site to remediate the situation. Site reclamation included grading, replacement of topsoil, seeding, and mulching in order to provide a vegetative cover similar to surrounding unaffected areas. Department staff monitored the site periodically until the vegetative cover was fully re-established.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Hall 1 (API # 31-101-00100-00-00) prior to well plugging. The
well was housed in a shed and was surrounded by equipment.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Hall 1 was leaking natural gas
and brine.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation.
Hall 1 wellsite was prepared for well plugging. The housing and
surrounding equipment were removed.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Rig and equipment were mobilized
to the wellsite.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
After plugging operations were completed, the wellsite was
reclaimed to match the surrounding landscape.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation.
Department staff periodically monitored the wellsite to ensure
proper reclamation.


Sacilowski 1 Well Plugging Project

County: Erie; Town: Cheektowaga

Well Name: Sacilowski 1

Plug Date: 4/20/2015 - 6/23/2015

The Sacilowski 1 was a long-abandoned gas well located along a sidewalk in a suburban residential setting. The well was drilled prior to the existence of a regulatory framework in New York, and the original operator is unknown. In the late 1960s, pressure in the well increased sufficiently to eject fluids and part of the well casing into the air. In addition, the well was also documented to have leaked hydrogen sulfide gas. The well represented a significant threat to public health and the environment.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Sacilowski 1 (API # 31-029-55299-00-00) well prior to
plugging. Well is covered by metal plate in residential lawn.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Sacilowski 1 wellsite was prepared for well plugging operations.
Rig and equipment were mobilized to the wellsite.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation.
After plugging operations were completed, the wellsite was
reclaimed to match the surrounding landscape.

Rome Sand Plains Well Plugging Project

County: Oneida; Town: Rome

Wells Plugged: 8 Gas Wells

Plug Date: 3/25/2014 - 6/11/2014

The project comprised the plugging of eight abandoned gas wells located in the City of Rome. These wells were drilled and completed between the 1890s and 1930s in the Trenton Formation at total depths ranging from 705 to 900 feet. As the city grew over time, the wells were disregarded by the local population and became parts of residential, commercial, or recreational properties. Two of the eight wells, Ringdahl Ivan 1 and Ringdahl Ivan 2, were located in Wright-Hazelton Park. Ringdahl Ivan 1 was located approximately 150 feet from a playground area in the park. There were reports of significant natural gas releases from the well due to historic vandalism. Another well, Finley 1, was leaking natural gas approximately 15 feet from a residence. The limited space between residential buildings posed significant challenges for well plugging operations. Mitigating the significant threats associated with these wells, plugging and reclamation was completed in June 2014.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow.
Finley 1 (API # 31-065-61548-00-00)
prior to well plugging.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well has leaked brine into the field in which it is located.
Rig and equipment were mobilized to the Finley 1 wellsite
to begin well plugging operations.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation.
After plugging operations were completed, the wellsite was
reclaimed to match the surrounding landscape.


Brandy Brook Well Plugging Project

County: Oneida; Town: Rome

Well Name: Stoklos & Cisek 1 ("Brandy Brook Well")

Plug Date: 5/7/2014 - 5/13/2014

The project entailed the plugging of the abandoned Stoklos & Cisek 1 gas well (termed the "Brandy Brook Well"). This well was one of the highest-scoring abandoned gas wells in the state. Drilled vertically to a total depth of 932 feet, the well was completed in the Trenton Formation. As the well was drilled prior to the existence of a regulatory framework and Department oversight, many additional details regarding the well are unknown (e.g., drilling date, original operator, construction details).

Department inspections noted the well in an advanced state of disrepair. The well was leaking natural gas, and records indicated that brine had been flowing freely from the top of the well casing onto the land surface for decades, discharging to Brandy Brook, a tributary of West Canada Creek, and resulting in the denudation of over an acre of land. The well had been set aflame by vandals many times over the years, and Department staff had responded to complaints associated with it on numerous occasions. The well was successfully plugged and reclamation of the surrounding area was completed on May 13, 2014. After the plugging and restoration efforts, the wellsite and surrounding land was monitored by Department staff to ensure the effectiveness of the reclamation. The plugging of this well and the restoration of the surrounding land surface are a great success story for the NYWWPI.

Stoklos & Cisek 1 well prior to plugging. Well is on fire and leaking gas and brine. Well is in extremely poor condition.
Stoklos & Cisek 1 (API # 31-065-
61553-00-00) on fire prior to plugging.
The area surrounding the Stoklos & Cisek 1 well is destroyed. All nearby vegetation has died due to the brine leak.
Stoklos & Cisek 1, prior to plugging, was leaking gas and brine
which caused denudation of the surrounding area.
Rig set up around Stoklos & Cisek 1 well.
Rig and equipment were mobilized to the Stoklos & Cisek 1
wellsite to begin well plugging operations.

Photo of the rig set up on the Stoklos & Cisek 1.
Rig and equipment during
well plugging operations.
Stoklos & Cisek 1 wellsite after plugging. Reclamation in progress.
After well plugging operations were successfully completed,
the wellsite was reclaimed.
Stoklos & Cisek 1 wellsite after reclamation. Vegetation has grown back and the site is in good condition.
Department staff periodically monitored the wellsite to
ensure proper reclamation.


Aerial Images of the Stoklos & Cisek 1

Credit: Google Earth Image. Aerial photo showing the large area of impact of the brine leak from the Stoklos & Cisek 1 well.
Stoklos & Cisek 1 and surrounding area in November 2011
prior to well plugging. The extent of the brine burn is shown.
Credit: Google Earth Image. Aerial photo showing the regrowth of vegetation and improvement in the site after well plugging and reclamation.
Stoklos & Cisek 1 and surrounding area in May 2015 after well
plugging and reclamation. Regrowth of vegetation is shown.