DOGGR Proposes New Oil & Gas Rules and Forms Office of Enforcement

DOGGR has recently announced proposed regulations to increase environmental safeguards in two areas of oil and gas production: underground injection control and idle wells.The regulations will strengthen the state’s oversight of oil and gas production and continue to ensure that underground sources of drinking water are protected. When finalized, the regulations will impact about 55,000 injection wells and about 30,000 idle wells in the state. This includes wells that inject water or steam for enhanced oil recovery, which account for about 60 percent of California’s production, and wells that inject wastewater for disposal. 

Key elements in the underground injection control (UIC) regulations include:

  • Stronger testing requirements designed to detect leaks before they occur.
  • Increased data requirements to ensure the potential risks of proposed projects are fully evaluated.
  • Continuous well pressure monitoring.
  • Requirements to automatically cease injection when there is a risk to safety or the environment.
  • Monitoring for seismic activity.
  • Requirements to disclose chemical additives.

Key elements in the idle wells regulations include:

  • A comprehensive well testing regime.
  • Permanently sealing long-term idle wells.
  • Requiring long-term idle well management plans.
  • Increasing funding to seal deserted wells through fees paid by operators.
  • Collecting the data necessary to prioritize which wells should be permanently sealed.

DOGGR has also launched an Office of Enforcement to enhance compliance with public safety and environmental regulations and the administration of enforcement actions. The office, composed of engineering geologists and legal staff, will work with staff throughout DOGGR to identify and investigate violations and track compliance. The Office of Enforcement will have authority to issue civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation per day. DOGGR’s Well Statewide Tracking and Reporting (WellSTAR) database system will improve the Office of Enforcement’s ability to identify violations and track compliance. WellSTAR will include information about enforcement actions and a portal allowing members of the public to file complaints about suspected violations. 

With over 20 years of experience in the California oil and gas industry, and long standing working relationships with local and state agencies, InterAct PMTI is ideally placed to provide expert DOGGR permitting assistance. We can assess your current well inventory and determine exactly what the regulations will mean to you, and prepare a tailored Idle Well Management Plan outlining the most efficient way to prepare your well inventory for the new requirements. InterAct's WellSTAR trained specialits can assist with the conversion and QC of well history and production/injection data into WellSTAR. 

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