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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 25. Department of Energy
Chapter 101. Regulations Governing Vertical Ventilation Holes and Mining Near Gas and Oil Wells

4VAC25-101-10. Definitions.

The following words and terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Accurate map or plat" means a map or plat drawn of a scale of between one inch equals 100 feet (1:1,200) and one inch equals 400 feet (1:4,800) with the scale so stated on the map or plat and certified by a licensed professional engineer or licensed land surveyor.

"Approved" means a device, apparatus, equipment, condition, method, course or practice approved in writing by the chief. Approvals by federal agencies such as the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), or the Office of Surface Mining (OSM), shall also be considered "approved" for the purposes of this chapter.

"Bridge plug" means an obstruction intentionally placed in a vertical ventilation hole at a specified depth.

"Building" means a structure regularly occupied in whole or in part as a habitation for human beings, or where people are accustomed to live, work, or assemble.

"Casing" means all pipe set in wells or vertical ventilation holes except conductor pipe and tubing.

"Cement" means hydraulic cement properly mixed with water.

"Chief" means the Chief of the Division of Mines of the Department of Energy, or his authorized agent.

"Coalbed methane gas" means occluded natural gas produced from coalbeds and rock strata associated therewith.

"Coalbed methane gas well" means a well capable of producing coalbed methane gas.

"Coal-protection string" means a casing designed to protect a coal seam by excluding all fluids and gas or gas pressure from the seam, except such as may be found in the coal seam itself.

"Coal seam" means any stratum of coal 20 inches or more in thickness, unless a stratum of less thickness is being commercially worked, or can in the judgment of the department foreseeably be commercially worked and will require protection if wells are drilled through it.

"Directional survey" means a well survey that measures the degree of deviation of a hole from true vertical and direction of points in the hole from the vertical.

"Director" means the Director of the Department of Energy or his authorized agent.

"Division" means the Division of Mines of the Department of Energy.

"Form prescribed by the chief" means a form issued by the division, or an equivalent facsimile, for use in meeting the requirements of the Code of Virginia or this chapter.

"Gas" or "natural gas" means all natural gas whether hydrocarbon or nonhydrocarbon or any combination or mixture thereof, including hydrocarbons, hydrogen sulfide, helium, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, hydrogen, casing head gas, and all other fluids not defined as oil.

"Gas well operator" means any person who has been designated to operate or does operate a gas well.

"Gas and Oil Inspector" means the Director of the Division of Gas and Oil of the Department of Energy.

"Gas well" means any well that produces or appears capable of producing a ratio of 6,000 cubic feet (6 Mcf) of gas or more to each barrel of oil, on the basis of a gas-oil ratio test.

"Gob well" means a coalbed methane gas well which is capable of producing coalbed methane gas from the de-stressed zone associated with any full-seam extraction of coal that extends above and below the mined-out coal seam.

"Groundwater" means all water under the ground, wholly or partially within or bordering the Commonwealth or within its jurisdiction, which has the potential for being used for domestic, industrial, commercial or agricultural use or otherwise affects the public safety.

"Highway" means any public street, public alley, or public road.

"Inclination survey" means a survey taken inside a vertical ventilation hole that measures the degree of deviation of the point of the survey from the vertical.

"Intermediate string" means a string of casing that prevents caving, shuts off connate water in strata below the water-protection string, and protects strata from exposure to lower zone pressures.

"Log" means the written record progressively describing all strata, water, or gas encountered in drilling, depth and thickness of each bed or seam of coal drilled through, volume of gas, pressures, rate of fill-up, fresh and salt water-bearing horizons and depths, cavings strata, casing records and such other information as is usually recorded in the normal procedure of drilling. The term shall also include electrical survey records or electrical survey logs.

"Mcf" means, when used with reference to natural gas, 1,000 cubic feet of gas at a pressure base of 14.73 pounds per square inch gauge and a temperature base of 60°F.

"Minable coal seam" means a coal seam being mined commercially, or that, in the judgment of the chief, can reasonably be expected to be mined, and which, when mined, will require protection if holes are drilled through it.

"Mining" means the activity of producing coal from any coal mine.

"Mud" means a mixture of materials which creates a weighted fluid to be circulated downhole during over-balance drilling operations for the purpose of lubricating and cooling the bit, removing cuttings, and controlling formation fluids, oil, gas or gas pressure.

"Owner" means the person or persons listed as owner of record by the Clerk of the Circuit Court of the county in which the property is located.

"Pending" means an application for a vertical ventilation hole or gas well permit that has been submitted to the department, but where the decision to issue or refuse to issue the permit has not been made.

"Permanent point" means an established physical point of reference on the land surface, based on the applicant's coordinate system, used for a map or plat submitted with a permit application.

"Permitted" means a vertical ventilation hole or gas well that has been approved by the department.

"Person" means individual, corporation, partnership, association, company, business, trust, joint venture, unit of government, or other legal entity.

"Pillar" means a solid block of coal or ore or other material left unmined to support the overlying strata in a mine.

"Pipeline" means any pipe buried or on the surface used or to be used to transport gas.

"Plug" means the sealing of, or a device or material used for the sealing of, a vertical ventilation hole or casing to prevent the migration of formation fluids or gas from one stratum to another.

"Railroad" means any steam, electric or other powered transportation system operating on a track which carries passengers for hire, or over which loaded or empty equipment is transported.

"State plane coordinate system" means the Virginia Coordinate System of 1927 or the Virginia Coordinate System of 1983 as defined in § 1-600 of the Code of Virginia.

"String of pipe" or "string" means the total footage of pipe of uniform size set in a vertical ventilation hole. The term embraces conductor pipe, casing, and tubing. When the casing consists of segments of different size, each segment constitutes a separate string. A string may serve more than one purpose.

"Tubing" means the small diameter string set after the vertical ventilation hole has been drilled from the surface to the total depth and through which a substance is produced or injected.

"Vertical ventilation hole" means any hole drilled from the surface to the coal seam used primarily for the safety purpose of removing gas from the underlying coal seam and the adjacent strata, thus, removing the gas that would normally be in the mine ventilation system.

"Water-protection string" means a string of casing designed to protect groundwater-bearing strata.

"Well" means any shaft or hole sunk, drilled, bored or dug into the earth or into underground strata for the extraction, injection or placement of any gaseous or liquid substance, or any shaft or hole sunk or used in conjunction with such extraction, injection or placement. The term shall not include any shaft or hole sunk, drilled, bored or dug into the earth for the sole purpose of pumping or extracting therefrom potable, fresh or usable water for household, domestic, industrial, agricultural, or public use and shall not include water boreholes, vertical ventilation holes where methane is vented or flared rather than produced and saved, subsurface boreholes drilled from the mine face of an underground coal mine, any other boreholes necessary or convenient for the extraction of coal or drilled pursuant to a uranium exploratory program carried out pursuant to the laws of this Commonwealth, or any coal or non-fuel mineral corehole or borehole for the purpose of exploration.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 17, Issue 20, eff. July 18, 2001; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

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