West Virginia DEP Adopts Horizontal Drilling Rules on Emergency Basis

Charleston Gazette
August 22, 2011

W.Va. Marcellus Rule Filed Amid Inaction Criticism
Associated Press

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed an emergency rule on August 22 that put in place temporary regulations for horizontal drilling. The rule, which adds new permit application requirements for operators drilling horizontal gas wells, as well as new operational rules to protect the state’s water quality and quantity, will remain in effect for 15 months. The rule includes the following elements:

  • The rule adds specific language to the state Office of Oil and Gas regulatory program that requires operators to include an erosion and sediment control plan and site construction plan, certified by a registered professional engineer, and a well site safety plan for well work permit applications involving well sites that disturb three acres or more of surface.
  • The rule requires permit applicants to submit a water management plan if they intend to use more than 210,000 gallons of water during any one-month period. The water management plan is also required to include information such as type of water source—surface or ground water; the counties from which water withdrawals will be taken; latitude and longitude of each anticipated withdrawal location; anticipated volume of each withdrawal and anticipated months withdrawals will be made; planned management and disposition of wastewater from fracturing and production activities; a listing of anticipated additives to be used in the water for fracturing; and, upon well completion, the listing of actual additives that were used.
  • The rule requires permit applicants drilling within the boundaries of any municipality to place a legal newspaper advertisement in the area where the well is proposed. No well work permit will be issued until 30 days’ notice has been provided to the public.
  • The rule adds operational language that instructs companies to protect the quality and quantity of surface and ground water systems both during and after drilling operations and during reclamation; requires operators to comply with record-keeping requirements for the quantity of flowback water from hydraulic fracturing and the method of management or disposal of the flowback; stipulates that all drill cuttings and drilling mud be disposed of in an approved solid waste facility; and adds casing and cementing standards to prevent the migration of gas and other fluids into fresh ground water and coal seams.