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Finding & Identifying Oil & Gas Wells

Attention Hikers, Hunters, and Landowners: If you believe you have found an abandoned well, please see What to do if You Locate an Abandoned Well.

Where Are Wells Located?

Most of the oil and gas wells in New York State are located in central and western New York, with the majority located in Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Allegany Counties. They can be found in forests, fields, and residential areas. Additional information about well locations can be found on the Online Searchable Database and the Open Data website.

Oil and Gas Well map showing that the vast majority of oil and gas wells in New York State are located in the southwestern part of the state.
Oil and gas wells exist throughout the state, but are concentrated
primarily in the western portion of the state.

What Does a Well Look Like?

Oil Well - You may see a wellhead, metal casing, pumpjack, oil/brine tanks, and pipes/fittings.

Oil well in good condition. Clean well and equipment with no excessive vegetation or debris.

Gas Well - You may see a wellhead, metal casing, separator, brine tank, and pipes/fittings.

Gas well in good condition. Clean well and equipment with no excessive vegetation or debris.

Is a Well Abandoned?

The Department maintains computerized records for approximately 40,000 wells, however location discrepancies and previously undocumented wells may be encountered. The following may indicate that a well is abandoned:

  • No visible well sign or other form of identification
  • Overgrown vegetation around the well
  • Well and surrounding production equipment are in visibly poor condition

In addition, you may find indications of an undocumented or inadequately plugged well:

  • A hole or depression in the ground, with or without casing (metal pipe)
  • An area with bare ground, or stressed or dead vegetation that may be caused by brine or other uncontrolled oil and gas waste fluids
  • An area with unexplained bubbling or hissing sounds
Oil well in poor condition. Well casing sticking up out of ground. These wells are found in a variety of locations.
Abandoned oil well casing
sticking up out of ground.
Oil well in poor condition. Submerged in water. What to do if you find an abandoned well.
Abandoned oil well with pumpjack and rod lines partially
submerged in water.
Oil well in poor condition. Wellhead is covered in oil. Found oil well.
Abandoned oil well found to
be leaking oil.

Gas well in poor condition. No wellhead to control flow. What to do if you find a well.
Abandoned gas well casing
sticking up out of ground.
Gas well in poor condition. Line is broken off and the well had leaked brine into the field in which it is located. Found well on property.
Abandoned gas well with no wellhead. This well was found to
be leaking gas and brine onto the surrounding farm field.
Gas well in poor condition. Rusted wellhead is surrounded by excessive vegetation. Found gas well.
Abandoned, rusted gas well
surrounded by excessive vegetation.

What to do if You Locate an Abandoned Well

If you find what you think is an abandoned well:

  • Do Not Touch the Well!
  • Take photos from a safe distance (~35 feet or more from the well)
  • Note the location or obtain GPS coordinates from a safe distance (~35 feet or more from the well)
  • Contact the appropriate Division of Mineral Resources regional office

Orphan & Abandoned Well Plugging

The Department administers an orphan and abandoned well plugging program. For more information, please visit our Orphan and Abandoned Well Plugging webpage.