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Global Traditional Energy Resources

Nevada map indicating areas of recoverable oil and gas


Nevada is home to the Chainman Shale formation, which sits primarily in the eastern central region of Nevada within the Big Sand Spring Valley.[1]  The formation contains both oil and gas and covers about 20 million acres.[2]

Nevada has not been a major player in shale oil production thus far. Of the 32 crude oil-producing states in 2017, Nevada ranked 26th in production.[3] This is due in part to Nevada’s  “complex” geology.[4] Only about 20 fracking permits had been issued in Nevada as of late 2017, with only seven wells drilled.[5]  As of 2019, the state has just one refiner, which has capacity to process approximately 2,000 bbl crude oil per day and produces asphalt and road oil.[6]

Statutory and Regulatory Framework

In 2013, the Nevada Legislature passed Senate Bill 390, which required the Division of Minerals of the Commission on Mineral Resources (the “Commission”) and the Division of Environmental Protection of the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to jointly develop a hydraulic fracturing program to assess the effects of hydraulic fracturing activities on State waters and inform the public of the activities relating to hydraulic fracturing.[7] The Commission was given the responsibility to adopt rules implementing the program by January 2015.[8]

The finalized regulations include provisions for groundwater baseline sampling and monitoring, water resource and wastewater disposal requirements, chemical disclosure requirements and mandates for extra casing for unconventional wells, notification of land owners and county commissioners, and the collection of multiple water samples for testing.[9]

In December 2015, additional approval requirements were added for saltwater disposal wells.[10] Nevada also updated its well-plugging requirement by clarifying when a non-producing well must be permanently plugged and abandoned.[11] The rules were also amended to require requests for approval for additional actions, such as the deepening of a well, change in the active status of a well, or change in the owner or operator of a well.[12] Well completion reports must be filed within 30 days after drilling operations are completed.[13]

Recent News and Developments

Fracking Ban Bill

Early in 2017, Assembly Bill 159 was proposed in the Nevada Assembly and would have prohibited fracking.[14] That bill died in June 2017 after it failed to emerge from the Nevada Senate Natural Resources Committee.[15]

Last updated October 2020.

[1] Chainman Shale Discovery,, (last visited Oct. 12, 2020).

[2] Len Tesoro, Chainman Shale: Could It Be the Next Big Land Grab?, (Mar. 4, 2013)

[3] Sources & Uses: Petroleum & Other Liquids: Data: Crude Oil Production, U.S. Energy Info. Admin. [“USEIA”] (Sept. 30, 2020),

[4] Geography: U.S. States: Nevada: Analysis, USEIA (Updated Jan. 16, 2020),

[5] Scott Sonner, Lawsuit Aims to Block Oil Drilling on US Land in Nevada, Chi. Trib. (Sept. 18, 2017)

[6] Geography: U.S. States: Nevada: Analysis, USEIA (Updated Jan. 16, 2020),

[7] See generally 2013 Nev. Stat. 2775 (Ch. 466, S.B. 390)

[8] Id.

[9] See Nev. Admin. Code §§ 522.010–.730.

[10] See id. § 522.380.

[11] See id. § 522.430.

[12] See id. § 522.505.

[13] See id. § 522.510.

[14] Sean Whaley, Lawmaker Wants to Outlaw Fracking in Nevada, Las Vegas Rev.-J. (Feb. 13, 2017),

[15] Michael Sandoval, Steyer-Backed Nevada Fracking Bill Dies in 2017 Legislative Session, Western Wire (June 7, 2017),