Global Fracking Resources
Wyoming’s natural gas production primarily occurs in the conventional and tight gas sand reservoirs in the Greater Green River Basin and the unconventional (coal bed natural gas) reservoirs in the Powder River Basin.1 According to statistics compiled by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC), the State produced nearly 75.6 million barrels of oil and 1.8 billion Mcf of natural gas in 2017.2
Statutory and Regulatory Framework
General laws governing oil and gas in Wyoming are found in Title 30, Chapter 5 of the Wyoming Code (§ 30-5-100, et seq.). Chapter 5 vests the WOGCC with authority to regulate oil and gas development, manage the drilling process, and enforce the state’s oil and gas statutes and regulations.3 The WOGCC appoints a State Oil and Gas Supervisor to ensure compliance with these laws and regulations.4 In addition, the WOGCC, along with other state agencies like the Air Quality Division (AQD) and Water Quality Division (WQD), issues various guidelines and policy statements regarding oil and gas development.5 Title 30, Chapter 5 of the Wyoming Code also includes statutory provisions relating to surface-owner protection, notification requirements, and limitations on surface disturbance.6
The WOGCC maintains rules governing various aspects of upstream oil and gas operations—including the locations of wells,7 bonding,8 applications for permits needed to drill,9 reporting,10 drilling operations11 (including, specifically, directional drilling12), well stimulation,13 and flaring and venting.14 The WOGCC also maintains environmental rules aimed at, among other things, pits;15 accidents, spills, and fires;16 underground water disposal;17 and injection wells.18
WOGCC regulations require operators to submit detailed information about chemicals used for well stimulation and other production processes.19 In August 2010,20 the WOGCC amended its rules to require operators to provide the product name, product type, Chemical Abstracts Service number, and the concentration of the chemicals in the product.21 Companies may then submit a request that the information be held confidential as trade secrets.22 In January 2015—following extensive litigation—environmental groups, the WOGCC and an oil-services provider that intervened in the lawsuit reached a settlement that, among other things, required WOGCC to revise its requirements for companies to claim trade secret protection.23 Oil and gas companies must now submit more detailed information, including commercial value and disclosure in other jurisdictions, to demonstrate to the WOGCC that a chemical should be protected as a trade secret.24
On November 12, 2013, WOGCC approved new rules requiring companies to perform baseline groundwater sampling, analysis, and monitoring at water wells within a half-mile radius of a proposed drilling well.25 The rule requires initial baseline sampling of at least four wells per aquifer, follow-up sampling 12 to 24 months after the initial testing, and sampling 36 to 48 months after production casing or liner has been set.26 The rule permits variances in certain cases—for example, if a landowner refuses to allow operators access to a property to conduct sampling and monitoring.27
Wyoming updated its flaring and venting regulations in 2016.28 The current regulations encourage upstream operators “to employ practical technologies that minimize the venting and flaring of gas.”29 Venting and flaring activities must be reported to the WOGCC supervisor monthly, and must be conducted in compliance with AQD rules.30 The regulations explicitly authorize venting or flaring under limited circumstances, such as during emergency or upset conditions and during various well tests.31 Outside of such conditions, operators are required to apply for a permit to flare.32 Such permits typically grant authorization to flare for periods beyond the 15-day production test, up to 180 days for volumes, up to an average of 250 MCF/d (on a monthly average), not to exceed a total of 45 MMCF; WOGCC approval is required for authorization to flare in excess of 45 MMCF or 180 days.33 In order to apply for a permit to flare, operators must submit, among other things, a gas-capture plan.34
On March 1, 2014, the Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI) established a new Natural Gas Flaring Policy for responding to requests to vent or flare gas on state lands.35 While the policy does not specifically limit venting and flaring, it does require the WOGCC to refer all requests for venting and flaring to OSLI, and recognizes OSLI’s authority to decide whether it is appropriate to assess royalties on gas that is vented or flared.36
In April 2015,37 the WOGCC approved new rules that expanded the state’s well setback requirement from 350 feet to 500 feet away from “occupied structures.”38 The Supervisor is authorized to grant a variance to increase or decrease these distances “for good cause.”39 The new rules also require drillers to notify landowners living within 1,000 feet of a well pad between 30 and 180 days before commencing drilling activity.40 Prior to constructing or spudding a well, the operator is also required to submit a report to the Supervisor containing site-specific measures the operator will take to mitigate anticipated impacts to adjacent properties.41
Last updated September 2018.
WOGCC Environmental Guidelines – The WOGCC website provides links to various guidelines, policy statements, and handbooks with information on environmental issues and best management practices related to oil and gas development. The webpage also includes links to documents issued by the EPA and environmental agencies in other states. Notable guidelines include:
- Memorandum of Agreement between the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the WOGCC, and the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office – defines the permitting and administrative responsibilities of the WOGCC, the WDEQ, and the State Engineer regarding water resources related to oil and gas development throughout the state.
- WOGCC Pit Closure Guidelines on the closure of unlined pits and returning surface of land used for production activity to its original use.
- WOGCC Water Sampling and Testing Guidelines on the preferred methods for water sampling at operation sites and subsequent laboratory analysis.
- WOGCC Reclamation Guidelines – regulate reclamation procedures with the goal of returning surface land used for oil and gas exploration, drilling, or production activity to its original use
- WOGCC Trade Secret Form and Guideline
- CBM, Oil, or Gas Produced Water Permit Requirements – consolidates in a single document the existing WVDEQ and WQD rules and regulations pertaining to the permitting, construction, operation, and monitoring of treatment facilities associated with coal bed methane and traditional oil/gas produced water.
- Commercial Oilfield Wastewater Disposal Facilities – consolidates in a single document the existing WVDEQ and WQD rules and regulations pertaining to the permitting, construction, operation, bonding and monitoring of commercial oilfield wastewater disposal facilities (defined as any facility that accepts oilfield exploration and production wastes from more than one producer).
- Underground Injection Program Control Guidance – contains WQD guidance procedures for the 6 well classes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets guidelines for Classes I, III, IV, V, and VI. Class II wells are regulated by the WOGCC.
- WOGCC Spill Cleanup Guidelines – establishes spill cleanup standards for oil and gas exploration and production sites and employ ranking systems for soil remediation and evaluating the environmental sensitivity of the impacted site
- Chapter 6, Section 2 Oil and Gas Production Facilities Permitting Guidance (2013) – supplements the WAQ New Source Review permitting program; this guidance applies solely to the permitting of oil and gas production facilities.
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
- Pavillion, Wyoming Area Domestic Water Wells Draft Final Report and Palatability Study: Draft Final Report
Wyoming Requiring Pre-Drilling Groundwater Testing, V&E News & Flashes, November 14, 2013
1 See Geography: Maps: Oil and Gas Related Exploration, Resources, and Production: Shale Gas and Oil Play, Lower 48 States, U.S. ENERGY INFO. ADMIN. [“USEIA”] (June 30, 2016), https://www.eia.gov/maps/images/shale_gas_lower48.pdf.
2 Wyoming State Geological Survey, Wyoming Oil & Gas Facts, http://www.wsgs.wyo.gov/energy/oil-gas-facts.
3 See generally WYO. STAT. § 30-5-104.
4 WYO. STAT. § 30-5-108.
5 See generally Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission [“WOGCC”], Environmental webpage, http://wogcc.state.wy.us/craig/craigie.html?Skip=%27Y%27&oops=490.
6 WYO. STAT. § 30-5-402.
7 055-003 WYO. CODE R. §§ 2–3.
8 Id. at §§ 4–7.
9 Id. at § 8.
10 Id. at §§ 12–13, 20–21.
11 Id. at § 22.
12 Id. at § 25.
13 Id. at § 45.
14 Id. at § 39.
15 055-004 WYO. CODE R. §§ 1, 13–14.
16 Id. at § 3.
17 Id. at § 5.
18 Id. at §§ 7–11.
19 055-003 WYO. CODE R. § 45(d).
20 Wyoming promulgates new rules (2010), INTERSTATE OIL & GAS COMPACT COMM’N http://groundwork.iogcc.ok.gov/node/921.
21 055-003 WYO. CODE R. § 45(d).
22 See id. at § 45(f).
23 Benjamin Storrow, Wyoming, Halliburton agree to greater fracking disclosure, CASPER STAR-TRIB., Jan. 26, 2015, http://trib.com/business/energy/wyoming-halliburton-agree-to-greater-fracking-disclosure/article_5916e9e1-820b-5d1c-845a-72b1dbd45dc8.html.
25 055-003 WYO. CODE R. § 46.
27 Id. at § 46(d).
28 Benjamin Storrow, Wyoming passes new flaring rule amid praise and criticism, CASPER STAR TRIBUNE (Feb. 9, 2016), http://trib.com/business/energy/wyoming-passes-new-flaring-rule-amid-praise-and-criticism/article_2ac33e2d-83cb-577b-9945-9ac76ef60669.html.
29 055-003 WYO. CODE R. § 39(a).
31 Id. at § 39(b).
32 Id. at § 39(c).
34 Id. at § 39(c)(ii)(H).
35 Policy Letter, Wyo. Off. of State Lands and Invs., Natural Gas Flaring Policy (effective Mar. 1, 2014), available at: http://slf-web.state.wy.us/subsurface/policy/naturalgasflaringpolicy.pdf.
37 Benjamin Storrow, Wyoming approves 500-foot setback for oil and gas operations, CASPER STAR TRIB. (April 14, 2015), http://trib.com/business/energy/wyoming-approves–foot-setback-for-oil-and-gas-operations/article_ed52b0d1-9d52-542b-9f5a-32d79c21a1d7.html.
38 055-003 WYO. CODE R. § 47(a).
39 055-003 Wyo. Code R. § 47(b)–(c).
40 055-003 Wyo. Code R. § 47(e)(i).
41 055-003 Wyo. Code R. § 47(e)(ii).