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Industrial Commission okays CARES money for seizing non-producing oil wells

North Dakota’s Industrial Commission has approved the confiscation of some shut-in or orphaned oil wells.

The state will use money from the federal CARES Act to employ some in the Oil Patch, who lost their jobs because of a lower demand for oil,to plug and reclaim those wells.

"In this first phase, our best estimate is it will support about 550 full time jobs for six months," said North Dakota Mineral Resources director Lynn Helms. "And the second phase, the reclamation phase, would support somewhere around 600 full time jobs."

At first, 239 wells would be affected, and anotehr 93 would be reclaimed later.

Helms sayd a number of the wells are in Burke, Reniville and Bottineau Counties.

"This is really an opportunity to help return much of that valuable farmland, in Burke, Renville and Bottineau Counties, to productive agriculture," Helms said. "We estimate somewhere around 2200 acres will be returned to agriculture in this process."

Helms said the goal is to have topsoil restored to every one of these sites by the end of the year.

"To make them either ready for crops to be seeded in the spring, or for native grasses already seeded and ready for the fall rains," Helms said.

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