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North Dakota Industrial Commission Sets New Oil, Gas Rules On Gathering Lines

North Dakota's Industrial Commission (IC) on Monday approved held-over rules from the state legislature's Rules Committee, clarifying and/or updating bonding, natural gas gathering pipeline, oil and produced water lines and oil/gas facility berm requirements. They are slated to be effective Jan. 1.

With the IC's action, the approved rule changes go to the state lawmakers' Administrative Rules Committee for approval Dec. 5.

Composed of the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner, the IC sets regulations for the state's oil/gas industry that are enforced by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), headed by Lynn Helms, the state's oil/gas supervisor. DMR must implement the new rules, assuming their final legislative OK next month.

Under the rules on bonding and transfer of wells, source wells for use in enhanced recovery have been added, and specifications outlined for saltwater handling facility and crude oil/produced water and underground gathering pipeline bonds.

To existing requirements for well and lease equipment, gas gathering pipelines have been added, outlining requirements for abandoned gas gathering pipelines. They must be left in a "safe condition" as defined in existing regulations for the abandonment of all other oil/gas pipelines in the state. Operators in the future will be required to report to the state within 180 days of abandoning a gathering pipeline.

The new rules also define and specify applications and notification for crude oil or produced water underground gathering pipelines -- pipelines designed for and intended "to transfer crude oil or produced water from a production facility for disposal, storage or sale purposes."

Other new rules cover oil production equipment, dikes and seals, treatment plant construction and operation requirements, and the construction and operation of saltwater handling facilities.

For the saltwater facilities, within 180 days after the operator is notified by IC, "a perimeter berm, at lest six inches in height, must be constructed of sufficiently impermeable material to provide emergency containment around the facility and to divert surface drainage away from the site." A similar berm requirement is added for treatment plants.

There is also a requirement that prior to completing any well, "dikes must be erected around oil tanks at any new production facility." A waiver can be attained from the DMR director for this berm requirement, or the director can consider an extension of time for meeting the berm requirement.

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