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West Virginia Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to Issue Emergency Rule for Horizontal Deep Wells

At an April 23, 2019 public hearing, the Chairman of the West Virginia Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (“OGCC”) announced the Commission’s intention to introduce an emergency rule for setback/spacing standards for horizontal deep wells (below the Onondaga) in West Virginia. According to the Chairman, the emergency rule, expected to be filed by June 1, will grant authority to the OGCC to establish setback/spacing standards for each distinct deep geologic formation within the state through the issuance of “Operational Orders.”

The OGCC ignored proposed modifications to the current rules submitted by industry trade groups (WVONGA and IOGAWV) for promulgation through legislative rulemaking. Those recommendations included various revisions to existing regulations for horizontal deep wells, including the elimination of minimum spacing/setback requirements for non-productive well intervals, the reduction of setbacks under certain circumstances, the elimination of spacing requirements between wells operated by the same operator, and the elimination of spacing requirements between wells of different operators provided the operators had a written agreement establishing spacing distances.

The Chairman advised that the OGCC intends to circulate a draft Operational Order relative to the Utica formation for public review on June 1, 2019. Comments will be accepted until July 1, 2019, with a target date of August 1, 2019 for a final Operational Order to be issued.

At this point, it is difficult to predict what details will be included in the emergency rule. We will continue to monitor this issue and provide more information once the emergency rule is filed. In the meantime, please contact us with any questions on this matter.  

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About this Author

Bridget D. Furbee, Steptoe Johnson, Gas Industry Lawyer, Major Transactions Attorney

Bridget Furbee focuses her practice in the area of energy law. She is the former in-house counsel for a major Fortune 500 energy company where she was responsible for legal issues related to gas exploration and production, including the development of major new geologic plays in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  She has extensive experience in major transactions as well as litigation in the oil and gas industries.

(304) 933-8117
H. Hampton Rose IV Steptoe-Johnson Regulatory attorney
Of Counsel

Hampton Rose focuses his practice in the areas of banking, commercial transactions, real estate, government relations and energy law. A life-long West Virginian, Hampton is a proud graduate of the West Virginia University College of Law, where he was the Executive Development Editor of The West Virginia Law Review, Vice President of the Energy Law and Real Estate Law Societies.  Prior to Law School, Hampton operated heavy equipment at West Virginia coal mines and remains certified as a black hat surface miner.  For several years, Hampton served as counsel to the Finance Committee of the West Virginia House of Delegates.  Hampton is a licensed Title Insurance Agent in West Virginia.

(304) 353-8189