Regulatory Requirements Associated with Site Preparation

Site preparation on non-federal lands is primarily regulated by the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission; on federal lands, companies must follow the requirements from the Bureau of Land Management.

State Requirements

Site preparation on non-federal lands is primarily regulated by the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission (AOGC) through AOGC Rule B-26 General Lease Operating Requirements.

Spacing of wells is regulated by Rule B-3 Spacing of Wells, Rule B-40 Authorization for Director of Production and Conservation to Administratively Approve Applications for Exceptional Well Locations, and Rule B-43 Establishment of Drilling Units for Gas Production from Conventional and Unconventional Sources of Supply Occurring in Certain Prospective Areas Not Covered by Field Rules. Rule B-17 - Well Drilling and Completion Pits requirements was updated in October 2010. The new requirements govern construction and operation of pits.

In addition to the AOGC requirements, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has some relevant regulatory requirements. They are found in Section 2 Construction of the Oilfield Waste and Reserve Pit Requirements

ADEQ prepared a general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit 00000-WG-P Authorization to Construct, Operate, and Close the Pits Associated with Oil and Gas Well Exploration. To be covered under the general permit, companies would need to file a Notice of Intent form.

NOTE: As of June 2010, an ongoing appeal of this permit was scheduled to be settled in the near future. Readers should check with the ADEQ to learn if any of the permit requirements have changed as a result of the appeal.

Federal Requirements

When the site preparation occurs on federal lands, companies must follow the relevant requirements from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Gold Book and Onshore Order No. 1.

Onshore Oil and Gas Order No. 1 describes the procedure for filing either an Application for Permit to Drill or Reenter (APD), Form 3160-3, or a Notice of Staking (NOS) followed by an APD. Early contact and discussions with the BLM and the surface management agency are highly encouraged and will expedite approval of the APD. It is recommended that this contact be made prior to the commitment of dates, equipment, access route acquisition, and preparation of the APD.

The operator is required to file the complete APD package for all operations, including those on National Forest System lands, with the appropriate BLM office. Drilling and related surface-disturbing operations are not allowed without an approved APD. When an APD is submitted, staking must include the center stake for the proposed well, two 200-foot directional reference stakes, the exterior dimensions of the drill pad, reserve pit, cuts and fills, and the outer limits of the area to be disturbed, unless a variance is granted.

Within 10 days of receiving the NOS or APD package, the BLM, in coordination with the operator and surface management agency or private surface owner, will schedule a date for the onsite inspection. The purpose of the onsite inspection is to discuss the proposal; determine the best location for the well, road, and facilities; identify site-specific concerns and potential environmental impacts associated with the proposal; and discuss the conditions of approval or possible environmental Best Management Practices (BMPs) for mitigating these impacts.

Chapter 4 of the BLM Gold Book provides guidance for the operator about the basic requirements for safe and environmentally sound construction and maintenance of oil and gas-related infrastructure, such as well pads, reserve pits, and access roads. Construction and maintenance must be performed to standards that ensure the long-term health and productivity of the land. To the extent permitted by the geologic target, well spacing, and drilling and production technology, the locations selected for well sites, tank batteries, pits, and compressor stations should be planned to minimize long-term disruption of the surface resources and existing uses, and to promote successful reclamation. Design and construction techniques and other practices that would minimize surface disturbance and the associated effects of proposed operations and maintain the reclamation potential of the site should be employed.

Split Estate Minerals Administered by the BLM

Where the minerals are federally owned and the surface is privately or state owned, the operator must make a good faith effort to notify the private surface owner before entering private land to stake a well location and access road or to conduct cultural or biological surveys.

See also Endangered Species Act (ESA) Provisions

This regulatory information is provided as guidance to viewers. It should not be used as the sole source of information concerning the relevant and applicable regulatory requirements. Agency organization, laws and regulations, and Web linkages are subject to change. Therefore viewers are encouraged to check with the appropriate regulatory agencies for authorized up-to-date information.
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