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North Dakota Legislative Committee Tightens Oil, Gas Rules

The North Dakota legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee (ARC) on Monday unanimously agreed to tighten the requirements for oil and gas spills and for royalties.

The spill rules are to take effect April 1, and the royalty changes would be implemented by mid-2019.

As part of revamping the state administrative code, the ARC embraced actions last December by the Industrial Commission (IC) to finalize oil and gas changes, which include requiring authorities to be notified about spills, site assessments and royalties.

The three-member IC is made up of the governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner.

A spokesperson for the Department of Mineral Resources, which would implement the rules, said the 43 changes would require “sundry notices for spills not responded to with adequate resources, site assessments before and after reclamation if deemed necessary by the director, and changes in royalty information statement requirements."

The DMR director would have discretion to require site assessments before and after wellsite reclamation. Requirements also were strengthened for oil and gas metering systems, bond and transfer requirements for wells, signage on wells, as well as notifications for fires, leaks, spills or blowouts, and cleaning up incidents.

The IC has the prerogative to impose more stringent requirements if warranted by the proximity of wells to "sensitive areas," or because of an operator’s past spill performance or “careless operating practices."

DMR earlier this year clarified and/or updated rules for bonding, gas gathering pipelines, oil/produced water lines and facility berms.

Meanwhile, on Monday DMR issued an incident report involving the spill of an estimated 252 bbl of oil released last Saturday in Divide County, when a recycle pipeline failed, according to a report by Slawson Exploration Co.

"All fluid was contained within the tank diking, and a recycle line runs oil back through the heater treater if the oil does not meet specifications for sale," the DMR spokesperson said. A state inspector was on site monitoring the clean-up work.

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