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Finding and Identifying Oil and 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 Wells Are Located

Most oil and gas wells in New York are located in the western part of the state, with the majority located in Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua and Erie Counties. They can be found in a variety of locations, including forests, fields, and residential areas. DEC maintains records for approximately 23,000 unplugged wells.

Well locations can be found using the Oil and Gas Searchable Database, the New York State Mines and Wells mapping tool, DECinfo Locator, and the Open Data NY website.

Oil and Gas Wells map shows oil and gas wells in New York.
Oil and gas wells exist throughout New York, but they are
concentrated primarily in the western portion of the state.

What Oil and Gas Wells Look Like

Oil Well - You may see a wellhead, metal casing, a pumpjack, oil and/or 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.

Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells

Abandoned wells are unplugged wells that have not been operated and maintained in compliance with oil and gas laws, rules and regulations. Many abandoned wells have fallen into advanced states of disrepair. DEC's Oil and Gas Database contains records of approximately 2,400 confirmed abandoned wells. Previously undocumented wells may be discovered by DEC, landowners and other members of the public at which time they are added to DEC's database.

The following may indicate that a well is abandoned:

  • No visible well sign or other form of identification;
  • Debris or overgrown vegetation around the well;
  • Well and surrounding production equipment in poor condition;
  • Equipment missing from the well or wellsite; and/or
  • Brine, oil, or gas leaks.

Additional information about abandoned wells and DEC's orphaned and abandoned well plugging program can be found on the Orphaned and Abandoned Well Plugging webpage.

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
protruding from the 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
protruding from the 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