Monday, February 27, 2012

State Office of Oil & Gas Working To Hire More Employees, Cut Permit Time In Half

The Chief of West Virginia's Office of Oil & Gas says his agency is in the process of hiring more employees and working to cut the permitting time process in half. His comments were provided recently when interviewed by W.Va. Public Radio. Provided below are excerpts from his interview:

WV DEP Chief of the Office of Oil and Gas James Martin says while issuing new permits is still a slow process right now, the hiring of new employees and support staff is imminent.

Martin also says that among the larger changes in his division are the changes in permitting requirements which have been adapted to the more complicated needs of horizontal drilling operations. The new legislation requires professional engineering designs for the well sites, in addition to erosion and sediment control plans.

"There’s a requirement for a well site safety plan," Martin says, "and there’s also a requirement for a water management plan, to look at the water that’s used specifically as it relates to the surface water withdrawals. I guess we’ll find out as we go along if things need to be tweaked, but at this point, we feel comfortable that the increased funding, as soon as it comes in like we projected, will allow us what we need to go forward."

To date 1,400 horizontal wells have been permitted and the wait for a permit today is about 100 days. Officials from the DEP hope that the number of days it will take to issue a permit will drop to 45 by this summer. The new legislation requires no less than 33 days.

Click to read the entire W.Va. Public Radio story.

W.Va. DEP Numbers Reveal Dramatic Changes Due To Horizontal Wells

West Virginia's natural gas industry has undergone dramatic changes over the past five years due to the implementation of horizontal drilling and production, and nowhere is this more evident than permitting and production numbers.

According to information provided by the West Virginia DEP, horizontal wells now account for 25 percent of the state's annual natural gas production. That increase is dramatic given that there was no production from horizontal wells just five years ago.

When it comes to permits, the numbers show a similar "seismic shift": in 2006 there were no horizontal well permits....in 2011 more than 500 permits for horizontal wells were issued. At the same time, conventional well permits dropped from 2,400 in 2007 to just 300 in 2011.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LGCR's Gottlieb Provides West Virginia Chapter For AAPL's Oil & Gas Law Book

Richard Gottlieb, who leads the natural gas practice at Lewis Glasser Casey & Rollins PLLC, has provided the West Virginia chapter for a new Oil & Gas Law book published by the American Association of Professional Landmen (AAPL). The book is a nationwide comparison of laws on leasing, exploration and production and offers a comprehensive volume on the comparison of 18 states plus federal lands. Gottlieb contributed the comparative chapter on West Virginia’s oil and natural gas laws.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bill Moving That Would Allow Electronic Land Records

Legislation (H.B. 4250) is moving in the West Virginia Legislature that would change state law and allow for land records to be in electronic form. The bill would remove any requirement of state law describing or requiring that a land record document be an original, on paper, or in writing. In addition, the bill would change any requirement that the document contain a signature or acknowledgment so that this can be satisfied by an electronic signature or acknowledgment. Finally, the bill would authorize a clerk to accept electronic documents for recording and to index and store those documents. The bill establishes a Real Property Electronic Recording Standards Advisory Committee and directs it to develop a legislative rule containing standards for electronic recording to be used by each county.

Lewis Glasser is monitoring and tracking this legislation.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

DEP Reviews New Horizontal Drilling, Production Requirements At February 1 Meeting

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) conducted a workshop yesterday to discuss the state's new Natural Gas Horizontal Well Control Act. New requirements for permitting, notice, bonding, and water management plans were discussed at length. The requirements govern horizontal drilling and production activities on permits issued since Dec. 14, 2011.

The DEP provided information regarding policy interpretations and forms for many of the new statutory requirements and noted that the Emergency Rules remained in effect unless specifically contradicted by the new statute. The DEP will be providing a summary of the policy statements made at the workshop shortly and has created links to the new forms on its website - http://www.dep.wv.gov/oil-and-gas/Pages/default.aspx.

Lewis Glasser will continue to monitor and be involved in this regulatory development process.