Reclamation & Remediation

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Our mission is to encourage and promote the development, production, and utilization of oil and gas in North Dakota in such a manner as will prevent waste, maximize economic recovery, and fully protect the correlative rights of all owners to the end that the landowners, the royalty owners, the producers, and the general public realize the greatest possible good from these vital natural resources.  This mission however should not come at the cost of North Dakota’s vast landscape.

Operators whose goal is to produce our vital natural resources are held accountable for the financial, environmental, and social responsibilities that come with operating in the great state of North Dakota. This includes proper planning, operations, emergency response, maintenance, and retirement of assets.

All operators must have the required financial surety and bonding in place. They must follow rules and regulations for proper spill prevention, monitoring, and remediation in addition to proper plugging of wells and the responsible reclamation of land.

(The below video is property of the North Dakota Petroleum Foundation who interviewed a North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources inspector on land reclamation in North Dakota.) 

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions
What is reclamation?

See North Dakota's Rules and Regulations here.

Reclamation is returning a site, access road, and other associated facilities constructed as close as practicable to original condition. Surface reclamation is a slow process and can take years to reshape and reseed land as close as practicable to the original condition.

When a reclamation plan is in place work begins on removing equipment, waste or contamination, and debris that may still be on site. Gravel or other surfacing material is removed and stabilized soil is remediated. Stock piled soil is evenly distributed over the area and where applicable, the area is revegetated with native species.

Reclamation is not considered complete until the state releases the site from the company’s bond.

More information related to remediation of land and reclamation best practices can be found in the Bakken Spills Clean Up Primer.

How is reclamation managed in North Dakota?

The reclamation program is directed out of the Oil and Gas Division’s Bismarck office.

Our reclamation specialists work collaboratively with inspectors in the field on a variety of surface projects including end-of-life pad reclamation, spill reclamation, illegal dumping reclamation and “legacy” brine pond reclamation.

There are more than 10,400 wells and facility sites in ND that have been successfully reclaimed. Nearly 1,500 sites have been reclaimed but are pending final approval for bond release by the state. Less than 1% of sites require long term environmental evaluation.

When is a site reclaimed?

Reclamation of a well site occurs typically by the operator of well when a well has reached its economic limit and serves no future purpose. At that time it must be properly plugged and the surface reclaimed. Plugging and reclamation of a well may be needed due to a dry hole, abandoned or orphaned well, or in many other situations. Much of a well's life is determined on a well-by-well basis.

More information about well status designations here.

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Jobs per Reclaim