Ohio implements new horizontal well pad rules

Today, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources implemented new rules regulating the construction of horizontal well pad sites. Stringent construction standards will ensure that well pads provide a safe foundation for drilling rigs and production facilities throughout the operational life of the well, emphasizing public safety and environmental protection.

Under the new rules, operators will submit detailed horizontal well pad site plans certified by a professional engineer to then be reviewed by the ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management prior to the construction of the well pad. The plans will include, but are not limited to, detailed drawings of well pad features, an emergency release conveyance map, a geotechnical report, and a sediment and erosion control plan. The division’s regional engineering staff will inspect sites during each stage of construction to ensure compliance with the new standards. Altogether, these new rules include the most comprehensive and proactive horizontal well pad regulations in the country.

Horizontal well pads are larger in size than traditional vertical well pads and often house multiple wells, allowing operators to access greater acreages of shale reserves with a smaller environmental footprint. Likewise, abundant production quantities from horizontal wells create a need for large scale operations to occur on or near the well pad. Stable access roads, also addressed in the new rule, are crucial for transporting drilling materials, and in the event of an emergency, provide safe access for response vehicles, personnel and equipment.

As exploration and production in the Utica Shale play continues, Ohio’s horizontal well pad construction standards will lay a strong foundation for greater protection of natural resources, human safety and the environment.

Ohio Administrative Code 1501:9-2-01 and 1501:9-2-02 requires operators to design and construct horizontal well pads in a manner that protects public health and safety, promotes safe drilling operations and minimizes damages to natural resources by managing storm water, ensuring clean surface water and reducing soil erosion. The rule, application and other forms are available at oilandgas.ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

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