Supervisor of wells issues instructions for oil and gas development in high population density areas

Supervisor of wells issues instructions for oil and gas development in high population density areas.

Over the past couple of years there has been lots of news, especially in southeast Michigan, about residents and local leaders who are concerned about impacts of oil and gas development near highly populated areas. State representatives from that part of the state introduced legislation during the 2014 to grant more authority to local governments to regulate oil and gas development through zoning. That legislation failed to gain approval, although similar acts were again introduced earlier this year. 

As a response to these concerns, the supervisor of wells has issued instruction 1-2015. Its goal is to protect the right of mineral owners to harvest their oil and gas, while minimizing potential land use conflicts. Some of the major attributes of this order are listed below. A link to the complete order can be found on the Michigan State University Extension Oil and Gas web page.

As stated in the order, what is a high population density site?

  1. A planned well site within a county with a population of 750,000 or more (only Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties meet this criteria)
  2. The well location is zoned exclusively residential
  3. There are 40 or more structures used for public or private occupancy in any 90 degree quadrant within 1,320 feet of the well location

How the instruction affects oil and gas drilling permit applications

  1. The oil and gas company will provide notice of a drilling permit application to the owners of structures within 1,320 feet of the proposed well location.
  2. The Office of Oil, Gas and Minerals will provide notice of the permit application to the supervisor of the township

What will the oil and gas well permit application now include?

  1. At least one groundwater monitoring well shall be installed close to, and down gradient of the well location before drilling
  2. An evaluation of feasible and prudent alternatives to the proposed well location
  3. Indicate plans and schedules for berming, screening, and/or enclosures to limit public views of wellheads and pump jacks
  4. A permittee will communicate with the local fire marshal and emergency responders
  5. A permittee shall post an identification sign in a clearly visible place at the entrance to the well location.
  6. A permittee shall take necessary measures to prevent nuisance noise associated with drilling operations
  7. If the supervisor or authorized representative receives complaints of noise attributed to the drilling operation, the permittee will be required to collect decibel readings to determine sound levels
  8. Drill cuttings, muds, fluids shall be contained in tanks and not stored in in-ground pits or disposed at the well location
  9. Combustive gas and vapor produced during well completion, testing and production shall be captures or burned in a flare or incinerator
  10. Transportation of equipment and supplies to a well site after well completion is limited to between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

There are other specifics to the order that were not mentioned here that can be found by reading it in its entirety.

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