At Great Western, we are #CommittedToColorado, and our commitment is the foundation of our operations. Our mission is to produce energy in a safe and responsible way to improve people’s lives. As a Colorado-born and Colorado-built company, protecting the health and safety of our employees, the environment and the communities in which we live and work is ingrained in our beliefs and operations.
A cornerstone of our dedication to producing the cleanest molecule of oil and natural gas, we take our responsibility seriously to reclaim the earth around us by affirming that each site is restored to its functional ecosystem. We call this the “reclamation process.” The reclamation process for formerly-active wells is an area in which Great Western takes pride as part of our due diligence to create a better environment.
The Reason for Reclamation
While there are several reasons why a well would undergo the reclamation process, wells that do are generally ones that are out-of-commission or older, vertically drilled and present an opportunity to create a more economic or environmental solution. By reclaiming wells that are no longer active, close to urban housing developments or within 1,500 feet of another well, Great Western is placing the health and safety of our neighbors, customers, employees, and contractors first. It is because of our commitment to the environment that we remain committed to Colorado and the natural beauty of this state.
This process ultimately ensures the wellbeing of our employees and the community, increases environmental sustainability and enables us to produce the cleanest natural resources in our state and country.
The Process of Reclamation
Once approved, our operations team works onsite to ensure the well is properly filled by pumping cement into the wellbore to cover and isolate the zones that produce oil and natural gas, which takes about five to seven days. This is when people would see a workover rig (shown in the photo above) on site. This procedure ensures the well will have integrity indefinitely, isolated hydrocarbon and groundwater zones, and no migration of fluids between plugs. Before and after cement is pumped into the wellbore, there is a deconstruction phase, which prepares the area for reclamation, and a final restoration phase that takes longer than the actual plugging process and is less noticeable to the public.
This thorough process is how we are able to leave the site better than we found it; it’s the meticulous reclamation process that strengthens our commitment to the environment and flourishes our role as environmental stewards in the state of Colorado.
After the well is plugged, the wellhead, or the top of the well, is cut off four to six feet below ground level. Then, the site is reclaimed, and the resulting plugging operation is submitted to the COGCC for another approval. The process and documents are available for the public to access.
Once submitted to the COGCC, Great Western can then clear equipment and begin restoring the land to its natural state and for its intended purpose. In some cases that may be a short prairie vital to the surrounding ecosystem, or a piece of the growing community, such as a brand-new basketball court. Nevertheless, Great Western is proud to reclaim and give back land to the communities in which we live and operate.