Rigging up: Program to plug 400 abandoned oil field wells kicks off
Sunday, August 23, 2020

ANTLER - Pumpjacks have bobbed up and down for decades in the oil field north of Minot, but many of the machines sit still today. 

Some were idled this spring because the price of oil tanked when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and their owners concluded the wells are not profitable at the moment. Others haven't pumped oil in years, and their operators never got around to plugging them with cement and cleaning up sites.

The latter scenario occurred at a Bottineau County well known as E. Person 5-I22 near Antler. It last operated in February 2017 when it pumped a meager 41 barrels out of the ground that month, state records show.

The well sat idle until last week when Ham's Well Service of Westhope brought in a workover rig to begin the job of plugging the hole, ensuring that it will never produce oil again.

Federal coronavirus relief dollars, funneled through the state, are providing paychecks for the four oil workers manning the small rig.

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