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Briefs -- RRC Wastewater Rule, API Well Data, PA Health Registry

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) said in a new notice that it will use the minor permit process under the commission's Statewide Rule 8 (Water Protection) to consider applications for permits to recycle treated domestic wastewater and waste streams from mobile drinking water systems at drill sites. An RRC minor permit will be required for surface application, such as dust suppression for drill pads or roads and for controlled (non-atomized) irrigation, for treated fluids. A minor permit will also be required for downhole uses of treated domestic wastewater. No RRC permit is required if wastewater from a mobile drinking water treatment system is used downhole as make-up water for drilling fluid after surface casing for a well has been set through the base of usable quality water. No permit is required for recycling mobile drinking wastewater for use as make-up water for cement and for make-up water for hydraulic fracturing fluid. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has jurisdiction over the treatment of water that will be used for drinking water, other potable uses, and potable delivery. TCEQ also has jurisdiction over mobile potable water treatment units operated at drill sites, such as mobile drinking water treatment systems and over the transportation of domestic waste and wastewater.

Estimated natural gas well completions declined 70% in 1Q2016 compared to the previous first quarter, according to a report by the American Petroleum Institute (API). API said it had also found that exploratory oil completions fell 90% compared to 1Q2015, and that total feet drilled decreased 73%, with the largest decrease seen in the footage for exploratory wells. The findings were contained in its Quarterly Well Completion Report for 1Q2016. Baker Hughes Inc. reported last Friday that for the week ending April 1, the number of operating drilling rigs in the U.S. had declined by 14 to 450, including 420 deployed in the onshore (see Shale Daily,April 1). Meanwhile, a recent analysis by Barclays Capital predicted that higher oil prices were unlikely to deplete a backlog of 2,000-3,000 drilled but uncompleted wells in the onshore (see Shale Daily,March 30).

Public health advocates are once again pushing for a health complaint registry in Pennsylvania that supporters say would possibly show a link between illness or other physical issues and oil and natural gas development. The Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project recently recently renewed calls for the registry and said it was collecting its own data about health complaints near drilling sites. Any registry would likely be run by the state Department of Health (DOH), which is sending out a questionnaire that asks about symptoms and any related concerns, such as oil and gas wells. That data is then published monthly online. Calls for a registry have been ongoing since at least 2011. That year, former DOH Secretary Eli Avila called for one to verify or refute claims (see Shale DailyJune 21, 2011). More recently, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf proposed $100,000 in his 2015-2016 budget to establish a health registry, but the proposal failed after a prolonged impasse over the state budget.

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