Appalachian Basin

Ohio Well Construction Regulations Setting the Bar

Throughout it’s history, Ohio’s oil and natural gas industry – and the regulators who oversee these operations – have placed the highest priority on safety standards.

Nowhere is this more evident than during the well construction stage, and the high standards set forth by Ohio’s industry and it’s regulators to ensure this vital phase is completed meeting  stringent standards that are second-to-none, and serve as a model for developing states across the country.

With the passage of Senate Bill 315 earlier this year – an update on the two year old SB 165 – Ohio now has the most robust, transparent regulatory system in the country, and, in looking at the graphic below, we can see how our state is setting the bar when it comes to well construction rules.

Source: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights, as shown above, of Ohio’s regulatory structure and the rules that make development in our state safe, and effective.

Well Construction Standards

With 8 areas of well construction practices and objectives, Ohio leads developing states with it’s regulation of 54 identified standards.

This regulation exceeds the recommendations of the American Petroleum Institute’s Best Management Practices (30 standards recommended) and the Environmental Defense Fund’s Model Regulatory Framework (50 standards recommended).

Here’s a look at how Ohio compares to other developing states:

  • Michigan – 25 standards regulated
  • Oklahoma – 20 standards regulated
  • Pennsylvania – 35 standards regulated
  • West Virginia – 16 standards regulated
  • Wyoming – 37 standards regulated
Ohio law also exceeds federal regulation, which requires oversight of only 20 of these standards.

Casing & Water Protection

In order to ensure protection of our water supplies, developing states regulate the minimum depth of the surface casing of a well in relation to the water aquifer. Again, Ohio’s regulation ranks at the highest (or, deepest) level required.

With the deepest water well at around 200’ beneath the surface, Ohio’s regulation requires operators to have casing depth to 655’. That’s a separation of 455’ between the casing and ‘usable water’.

The required depth of this casing ensures the protection of our water resources – a priority for every developer – and is furthered by Ohio’s strict casing cement standards.

As the process is overseen by regulators on-site, the tests conducted on these casings are the first of it’s kind in the country, calling for testing at 500 pounds per square inch for a duration of 30 minutes. This test is conducted for both the tail and lead cements.

As Ohio continues to emerge as a leader in domestic energy production, it also maintains it’s status as a leader in having a strong, transparent regulatory structure.

Moving forward into our development of the Utica Shale, these regulations and best practices put forward by the industry allow the state’s energy producers to continue to do what they do best – safely and responsibly develop our nation’s energy future, and put Ohio back to work.

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