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Interior Department Officials Tour Progress of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law-Funded Orphaned Well Decommissioning Projects in the Gulf

Friday, June 7, 2024

NEW ORLEANS – Department of the Interior (DOI) officials surveyed the progress yesterday of an offshore project occurring in the Gulf of Mexico region for the decommissioning of orphaned wells in the Matagorda Island area, partially funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) Director Kevin Sligh was joined by Interior’s Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Winnie Stachelberg and other DOI officials.

One of BSEE’s key responsibilities is ensuring that infrastructure used in exploration, development, and production activities is properly decommissioned to provide for the long-term protection of offshore resources and the environment. Last year, BSEE awarded contracts for the decommissioning of nine orphaned wells, along with associated pipelines and platforms, in the Matagorda Island lease area, which lies in federal waters approximately 12 miles off the Texas coast. The project is tackling the most urgent decommissioning needs to minimize the risk of environmental pollution and safety incidents, including by securing wellheads, removing hazardous materials, and preparing the site for well plugging, which permanently seals the wells.

“The dedicated funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law represents a significant commitment by the administration for environmental protection and responsible resource management,” said BSEE Director Sligh. “By addressing orphaned infrastructure, BSEE is reducing environmental risks, enhancing safety, and clearing the way for new uses.”

“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding allocated for BSEE marks a critical step toward a cleaner and safer ocean environment,” said Stachelberg. “This once in a generation investment is creating jobs and reducing legacy pollution from coast to coast, and beyond.”

BSEE’s regulatory authority for OCS decommissioning is provided by 30 CFR 250, Subpart Q, Decommissioning Activities. For additional information regarding BSEE’s decommissioning requirements and activities, visit the Decommissioning page.


The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement is the lead federal agency charged with improving safety and ensuring environmental protection related to the offshore energy industry on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.