The US Department of Energy will spearhead a $4.7 billion programme billion for orphaned well site plugging, remediation, and restoration activities.

The federal agency said the effort will be an “interagency initiative”, working with the Departments of Agriculture and Energy as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

The agencies have signed a memorandum of understanding establishing a framework for the programme’s implementation.

The new agreement requires the orphaned well programme to be formally established within 60 days.