The bill creates the orphaned wells mitigation enterprise (enterprise) in the department of natural resources for the purpose of:
- Plugging, reclaiming, and remediating orphaned wells located in the state for which no owner or operator can be found or for which the owner or operator is unwilling or unable to pay the costs of plugging and abandoning the well;
- Ensuring that the costs associated with the plugging, reclaiming, and remediating of orphaned wells are borne by operators in the form of mitigation fees;
- Determining the amounts of mitigation fees; and
- Imposing and collecting mitigation fees.
On or before August 1, 2022; on or before April 30, 2023; and on or before April 30 each year thereafter, each operator shall pay a mitigation fee to the enterprise for each well that has been spud but is not yet plugged and abandoned, in accordance with rules promulgated by the Colorado oil and gas conservation commission (commission), in the following amounts:
- For operators with production that is equal to or less than a threshold to be determined by rules of the commission, $125 for each well; or
- For operators with production that exceeds a threshold to be determined by rules of the commission, $225 for each well.
Money collected as mitigation fees is credited to the orphaned wells mitigation enterprise cash fund (fund), which is created in the bill.
The bill also creates the orphaned wells mitigation enterprise board (enterprise board) and requires the enterprise board to administer the enterprise and, at least annually, to:
- Consider whether the mitigation fee amounts should be increased or reduced, based on current circumstances and reasonably anticipated future expenditures from the fund;
- If the enterprise board determines that an increase or reduction of the mitigation fee amounts is warranted, adjust the mitigation fee amounts; and
- Advise the commission of the outcome of the enterprise board's deliberations.
The commission may promulgate rules as necessary to implement the enterprise.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)