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Wyoming water sampling regulations changing for oil and gas

Monday, February 10, 2014

Nikki Graber, Compliance and Remediation

Oil and gas companies know that oil and gas basins don’t follow neatly drawn state boundaries. With Wyoming poised to enact new water sampling regulations, companies working along the Colorado-Wyoming border will potentially have two different sets of rules to follow. Olsson has experienced staff members able to help navigate these rules.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) put forth the Cowboy State’s first-ever statewide water-sampling regulations with a March 1, 2014, effective date (pending Governor Matt Mead’s signature). The water sampling guidelines are different than Colorado guidelines in several ways, including the following:

  • A baseline water-sampling plan will be required to be in place before issuing a well permit. In Colorado, companies can receive a well permit and then bring in the expertise to develop a sampling plan without state approval.
  • Water sampling will need to be done on sites that have been specifically identified in advance. If that site is later determined to be a poor candidate for accurate sampling, a request for variance is needed. In Colorado, no requirements exist for reporting your sampling plan as long as spacing and number requirements are followed.
  • Using previously sampled data older than 12 months will not be allowed in Wyoming, whereas data created within the last 60 months is usable in Colorado.
  • The new guidelines require that WOGCC inspectors be notified 24 hours in advance of water sampling so that inspectors can choose to observe the process. After a sample is collected, the WOGCC must be notified that the sampling event occurred.

In some aspects, the Colorado and Wyoming regulations are similar. For example, the spacing and the number of sample sites required in the proposed Wyoming regulations are similar to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s Rule 609. This rule requires samples in a half-mile radius from proposed wells and takes into account the distance from proposed wells, differing aquifers, and the direction of water flow.

Olsson has been tracking the development of the Wyoming regulations, and Olsson staff members are well versed in the differences between Colorado’s and Wyoming’s baseline water sampling regulations. Staff members are prepared to help clients from Olsson’s Golden, Grand Junction, and Loveland offices. Olsson’s Loveland staff members are particularly able to efficiently assist clients as they develop, implement, and monitor water-sampling plans for multiple wells whether they are located in Northern Colorado, Wyoming, or both.

If you have any questions about baseline water sampling, please contact Nikki Graber in our Loveland office at 970.461.7733 or ngraber@olssonassociates.com.

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