Analysis of the United States Documented Unplugged Orphaned Oil and Gas Well Dataset

Data Report 1167
By: , and 



In coordination with the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and in response to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) produced a documented unplugged orphaned oil and gas well dataset (called the DOW dataset hereafter) that contains the location and status of these wells nationwide as of 2022. The DOW dataset includes 117,672 wells across 27 states. The data were compiled from publicly available, and often online, state agency sources. The USGS reformatted, produced coordinate locations when needed, and conducted quality control evaluations on the source material. The DOW dataset has numerous potential uses related to the topic of orphaned well locations. For example, the DOW dataset has contributed to the template behind the DOI's future orphaned well program database. Until the DOI database is complete, the USGS's DOW dataset may serve as an interim product, helping the DOI fulfill obligations in the BIL legislation.

The DOW dataset can also be utilized in future USGS estimates of greenhouse gas emissions from Federal lands. The DOW dataset is available as a USGS data release with metadata describing the sources and processing steps used in its production. An online map is also available for exploration and interaction with the DOW data. In addition to describing the DOW dataset and its generation, this report includes analyses of orphaned well completion year and well depth, produced by combining the DOW dataset with the proprietary IHS Markit database.

Suggested Citation

Merrill, M.D., Grove, C.A., Gianoutsos, N.J., and Freeman, P.A., 2023, Analysis of the United States documented unplugged orphaned oil and gas well dataset: U.S. Geological Survey Data Report 1167, 10 p.,

ISSN: 2771-9448 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Summary
  • References Cited
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Analysis of the United States documented unplugged orphaned oil and gas well dataset
Series title Data Report
Series number 1167
DOI 10.3133/dr1167
Year Published 2023
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Central Energy Resources Science Center, Eastern Energy Resources Science Center, Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center
Description Report: vi, 10 p.; Data Release
Country United States
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details