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ND oil industry comments on proposed rule changes

By Luke Geiver | October 02, 2013

Following a public hearing on proposed rule changes that could impact the oil and gas industry in North Dakota, the North Dakota Petroleum Council has responded. In a letter to Bruce Hicks, assistant director of the state’s Department of Mineral Resources, the governing body responsible for the rules, the NDPC presented its thoughts on the rules based on the perspective of its members. The NDPC represents more than 500 companies involved in the oil and gas industry. Most of the proposed rule changes are a result of the 2013 legislative session, several of which go beyond the scope of the legislature, Ron Ness, president of the NDPC wrote. The NDPC offered modifications to some of the rules. “The oil and gas industry in North Dakota is committed to “doing it right” and, with adoption of our suggested modifications, we support the rule changes,” Ness wrote.

The comments provided by the NDPC on the DMR’s proposed rules included suggestions for several topics, from saltwater disposal to treatment plant siting.

The following is a summary of some of the rule topics and the commentary provided by the NDPC.

Treating plants

A DMR rule would require a plant constructed to recycle production water be considered a treating plant. According to the NDPC, the definition of a treating plant is very broad and could include the treatment of cuttings and drilling mud that occurs on a well site. The NDPC suggests redefining a treating plant as any plant permenantly constructed or portable used in the purpose of wholly or partially reclaiming, treating, processing or recycling tank bottoms, waste oils, drilling mud, waste from drilling operations, produced water and other waste related to crude oil and natural gas exploration and production whether generated onsite or offsite after being transferred to an offsite facility.

Applications for Permit to Drill and Recomplete

The purpose of the rule is to provide emergency services with a street address and create a procedure for permit applicants to notify landowners 1,000 feet from the proposed drilling site while also setting a deadline for landowner comments. The NDPC supports the concept of the rule, but sites concerns regarding the time required to assign an address into a county emergency system before it can be used, a time the NDPC points out, that could be 3 weeks. The NPDC also argues that the street address requirement should be substituted with a location description.

Site Construction

The purpose of the rule is to require operates to gain authorization from the DMR before installing a liner or fabric on a well site, road or facility. Due to undesirable weather conditions that require operators to make quick decisions regarding the use of fabrics or liners, the NDPC would like to see the rule reworked.

Earthen Pits and Open Receptacles

A proposed rule would allow earthen pits or receptacles to remain open for thirty days or longer only after a public hearing. The NDPC , again siting weather conditions that impact an operator on a case by case basis, object to the rule and would like the language, “within reason,” to be placed in the rule.

The NDPC also commented on well and lease equipment rules, flaring exemptions, pipeline placements and many other proposed rule changes. The DMR is still accepting comments to its proposed rules until October 11.

“We appreciate the time and effort these rules have required and recognize that the Oil and Gas Division has considered several industry ideas in the new rulemaking process,” Ness also said in his letter.

To view a full list of the proposed rules, click here