Osage Nation Asks for More Federal Spending on Abandoned Wells

May 14, 2018

The Osage Nation hopes the final Bureau of Indian Affairs budget will help continue work to plug abandoned oil and gas wells on its land.

Osage Minerals Councilwoman Cynthia Boone said those projects can run from $10,000 to $100,000.

"After almost 130 years of continued development, there are about 2,000 unplugged, abandoned wells on our reservation. These wells are an environmental and health hazard. Some are near schools and playgrounds," Boone said.

BIA has identified 1,602 wells on Osage land that need to be addressed, listing 1,400 of those as a priority. Some were previously plugged but need to be repaired.

The Osage are asking for another $5 million increase for BIA's abandoned well program in 2019 on top of a $3 million boost in 2018. Boone said BIA also needs a ten-fold increase in its energy budget to help tribes develop their resources.

"We all know that Indian energy development creates jobs and supports tribal, regional and the national economy. In 2015, it was estimated that the Osage mineral owners would receive about $14 billion in royalties over the next 15 years," Boone said.

Boone said tribes need more access to petroleum engineers and other professionals.