DIA caps all oil and gas wells on airport property

Denver International Airport is one step closer to becoming “one of the greenest airports in the world,” airport officials announced Wednesday.

The airport earlier this month completed capping the 64 oil and gas wells across its property, among the first items in the airport’s Vision 100 plan to make DIA more sustainable and eliminate environmental hazards. Airport officials first announced this project in 2018 after shutting the wells down in part due to environmental concerns and the exit of a supporting partner of the wells.

The closure of the wells will allow the airport “to grow and move forward in a way that’s conscientious, sustainable, and smart while avoiding the risk of methane leaks and other related pollutants, while conserving water, resources and energy,” according to a news release.

The closing of the wells also marks the virtual end of oil and gas activities in Denver, Mayor Mike Johnston said.

“The wells at DEN were the only wells located within Denver and this closure effectively ceases all oil and gas activities in our city,” Johnston said. “This work aligns with our unwavering commitment to climate-aligned, sustainable policies and action to ensure Denver remains a top place to live.”

The well caps were part of a $12.5 million program that also includes decommissioning all of the airport’s 38 tank battery locations.

Most of those wells were operating before DIA was built in 1995 on 54 square miles annexed from neighboring Adams County, but over the years, the airport allowed the use of fracking to develop new wells.

The side hustle brought in $7 million in 2010, helping in a small way to subsidize DIA’s main operations. But declining oil and natural gas prices reduced that income significantly in more recent years, with the wells generating just $2.3 million in 2017 before the airport closed the wells.

The land the wells sat on will now be turned over to the airport’s tenant farmers and other stakeholders, according to the news release.

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