Over 650 stakeholders in Pennsylvania’s rapidly growing oil and gas industry gathered in State College, Pennsylvania on January 11th and 12th of 2010 to participate in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (PADEP) Regulatory Training for the Oil and Gas Industry. The attendees included, among others, representatives from exploration and production groups, midstream operators, consulting engineering firms, and the PADEP. The purpose of the presentation was to provide industry training and updates on permitting, policy, and regulations in Pennsylvania pertaining to the oil and gas operations.
The 1½ day training session focused on PADEP’s oversight of the following aspects of the industry:
- Erosion and Sedimentation Control Permitting for Oil and Gas Construction Activities
- Impoundment Permitting for Marcellus Shale Gas Wells
- Waste Reporting and Disposal
- Stream and Wetland Protection and Permitting
- Spill Reporting Requirements
- Water Management Plans and Water Use Reporting Requirements
While the training session was intended for Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry in general, the focus of the presentations and the reason for the overwhelming attendance was the development of the Marcellus Shale play. The Marcellus has presented unique challenges for both operators and regulators in that the process of developing and completing a typical Marcellus well involves many elements and development at a scale atypical of traditional oil and gas exploration in Pennsylvania. Increased well development and vastly increased quantities of gas are spurring the development of gathering lines, transmission lines, and gas treatment, fractionation, and compression facilities across the Commonwealth. Increased current and projected activity and the processes necessary for successful extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus shale have spurred additional regulation and prompted the PADEP to provide training and informational sessions such as the recent event in State College to communicate both new and existing regulatory requirements to stakeholders.
The PADEP has implemented new regulation or applied existing regulations to all aspects of the Marcellus development with the goal of protecting Pennsylvania’s natural resources. Earth disturbance associated with natural gas development projects on sites in excess of five acres is regulated under the ESCGP-1 general permit. The construction of impoundments to hold fresh water for use in the hydraulic fracturing process and to receive produced water from the wells is regulated under PADEP’s Chapter 105 Dam Safety and Waterway Management Program. The permitting of impacts to streams, wetlands and other water bodies is also regulated under the Chapter 105 program and by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Approvals for use of water in the drilling and hydraulic fracturing process must be obtained through the PADEP Bureau of Oil and Gas through the Water Management Plan process and the Susquehanna River Basin Commission or Delaware River Basin Commission, where applicable. Waste disposal and treatment is regulated through the PADEP Bureaus of Oil and Gas and Waste Management. Operators are required to keep records of their waste handling, sampling, transport, and disposal activities and provide annual reporting to PADEP.
Future postings will provide more detailed information on the various aspects of the development of Marcellus Shale gas resources in Pennsylvania and other states. Specific questions about the topics identified in this posting can be answered by directly contacting our experts, Dustin Kuhlman at 800-365-2324 or email@example.com, Paul Kanouff at 800-899-3610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information on the Marcellus Shale and the regulatory framework for managing the development of this resource is available at the following web sites:
- PADEP Bureau of Oil & Gas – Marcellus Shale Home Page: http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/oilgas/new_forms/marcellus/marcellus.htm
- Marcellus Shale Coalition: http://www.pamarcellus.com/
- Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania: http://iogapa.org/
- Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association: http://www.pogam.org/