Denver International Airport Reaches Another Sustainability Milestone

Aug. 30, 2023

Denver International Airport (DEN) on Aug. 12 completed the capping of 64 oil and gas wells across airport property as part of a $12.5 million program that includes decommissioning all of DEN’s 38 tank battery locations. The achievement supports the airport’s sustainability efforts and its mission to become one of the greenest airports in the world.

“The wells at DEN were the only wells located within Denver and this closure effectively ceases all oil and gas activities in our city,” Mayor Mike 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.”

DEN opened in 1995 with dozens of working oil and gas wells on airport property, a number that varied throughout the following years. At one time, these wells produced a positive financial return for DEN, but when a critical supporting partner left in May 2018, DEN was required to shutter all the wells and expend close to $500,000 annually to maintain field and regulatory compliance.

“We are immensely proud of the work and dedication from our teams to achieve this milestone, which symbolizes our commitment to sustainability and responsible practices,” DEN CEO Phil Washington said. “This accomplishment underscores our dedication to being a leader in airport sustainability, setting an example for others to follow.”

When CEO Phil Washington arrived at DEN in 2021, he made sustainability a key component of Vision 100, the strategic plan designed to enable the airport to serve 100 million annual passengers. Capping the wells and closing the oilfields was among the first items in the plan to make DEN more sustainable and eliminate environmental hazards.

The capping and decommissioning process required extensive coordination within DEN and externally with oil industry engineers, contractors, and State regulatory agencies.

With the final closure of the wells, the land will be turned over to the airport’s tenant farmers and other stakeholders to repurpose and rejuvenate.

The closure of the wells will allow DEN 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.