Vertical well plugging

Year / County / State

2017 / 141 / 154

2016 / 801 / 989

2015 / 682 / 950

2014 / 737 / 1,082

2013 / 353 / 630

Source: Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Soon, people may start noticing fewer oil and gas storage tanks and well sites dotting the urban landscapes that have grown up around old drilling fields. New technology has allowed horizontal drilling that can span almost 3 miles from the wellbore, and piping the product out instead of storing it on site is becoming the norm.

The answer to the change in focus is somewhat obvious to those in the industry — companies are opting to put their money into cash cows rather than the older, less sturdy vertical wells that paved their golden path to today's increased drilling technology.

A relatively recent state oil and gas policy also is making a rather hefty impact in the vertical well counts. The rule is responsible for hundreds of old vertical wells being plugged and abandoned as companies seek to drill horizontal wells instead. The result is a cleaner landscape and a return of land back to surface owners.

Oil Wells in Greeley CO