Offering new guidelines on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), North Dakota's Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) said Wednesday its 2012 oil/gas rule changes were approved as of Wednesday and become effective April 1. The revised rules cleared the state's Administrative Rules Committee Wednesday morning, according to a DMR spokesperson.
The state's Industrial Commission, which is part of DMR, signed off on extensive changes spread across 26 sections of guidelines in late January. DMR is calling the new guidelines the most significant for oil and gas in three decades.
Tougher fracking requirements, along with required hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure on a national website (www.fracfocus.org), were developed for the first time as a new administrative code (43-02-03-27.1), "Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation." It includes the requirement that if pressure buildup during stimulation exceeds 350 psi, the operator is obligated to verbally notify the DMR director "as soon as practicable, but no later than 24 hours following the incident."
Other rule changes deal with increased bond amounts and implementation of drilling pits, the DMR spokesperson said.
DMR is viewing the final rules this year in the midst of a continuing production boom in the Bakken Shale as "a historical event," according to Assistant Oil and Gas Director Bruce Hicks. "These rule changes are the most significant changes we have made in the 31 years I have been with the commission." Hicks said North Dakota intends for the new rules to ensure that oil industry operators remain "good stewards to our land," along with helping the state maintain a favorable business climate.
The fracking rules include specifics for stimulation performed through a frack string run inside the intermediate casing string, or stimulation performed through an intermediate casing string.
Safety regulations spell out operations on all oil wells, calling for them to be cleaned into a pit or tank "not less than 40 feet from the derrick floor." Further, the rules say the DMR director "may" require remotely operated or automatic shutoff equipment to be installed on any well the rules described as "likely to cause a serious threat of pollution or injury to the public health or safety."
The final rules can be found at www.dmr.nd.gov/oilgas.