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Fracking Wells Abandoned in Boom/Bust Cycle. Who Will Pay to Cap Them? January 4, 2014 The companies that once operated the wells have all but vanished into the prairie, many seeking bankruptcy protection and unable to pay the cost of reclaiming the land they leased. Recent estimates have put the number of abandoned drilling operations in Wyoming at more than 1,200, and state officials said several thousand more might soon be orphaned by their operators.