How the program works

Through the Abandoned Works Program is a program run by the ministry that helps Ontarians properly plug wells on their property.

The ministry will:

  • determine if your well qualifies for the program
  • rank your well based on the risk to public safety and potential for environmental damage to determine when it should be plugged (wells that are ranked as immediate or significant hazards are addressed first)
  • arrange for a certified well contractor to plug the well

What qualifies

Any oil or gas well qualifies if:

  • it was drilled before 1963
  • you haven’t used or tampered with it
  • it is visible from the surface
  • there is no current operator

Wells that qualify for the program, cannot be re-used and must be plugged because they are old, in poor condition and no longer up to current well location and construction standards.

Who is responsible for the well

In Ontario, oil and gas well operators are responsible for plugging their own wells if they are no longer in use (i.e. they were drilled and they do not produce oil or gas).

As per the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Act, if there are no oil or gas well operators found to be responsible for the well, the landowner is responsible for plugging the well.

How wells are plugged

Wells are plugged with cement by a plugging contractor. In most cases, the plugging contractor may use:

  • a drilling rig (weighs about 16 tonnes and is about 12 metres high)
  • steel tanks to hold fluids during the plugging (measures 6 metres by 2 metres)
  • tank trucks
  • construction equipment

Who to contact if you have an abandoned well

If you suspect you have an abandoned well on your property :


Petroleum Operations Section
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry
Telephone: 519-873-4634