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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 4. Conservation And Natural Resources
Agency 25. Department of Energy
Chapter 170. Geothermal Energy Regulations

4VAC25-170-10. Definitions.

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

"Bottom hole temperature" means the highest temperature measured in the well or bore hole. It is normally attained directly adjacent to the producing zone, and commonly at or near the bottom of the borehole.

"Casing" means all pipe set in wells.

"Conservation" means the preservation of geothermal resources from loss, waste, or harm.

"Correlative rights" means the mutual right of each overlying owner in a geothermal area to produce without waste a just and equitable share of the geothermal resources. Just and equitable shares shall be apportioned according to a ratio of the overlying acreage in a tract to the total acreage included in the geothermal area.

"Department" means the Virginia Department of Energy.

"Designated agent" means that person appointed by the owner or operator of any geothermal resource well to represent him.

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

"Division director" means the Director of the Division of Gas and Oil, also known as the Gas and Oil Inspector as defined in the Virginia Gas and Oil Act of 1990, Chapter 16 ( § 45.2-1600 et seq.) of Title 45.2 of the Code of Virginia or his authorized agent.

"Drilling log" means the written record progressively describing all strata, water, minerals, geothermal resources, pressures, rate of fill-up, fresh and salt water-bearing horizons and depths, caving strata, casing records and such other information as is usually recorded in the normal procedure of drilling. The term shall also include the downhole geophysical survey records or logs if any are made.

"Exploratory well" means an existing well or a well drilled solely for temperature observation purposes preliminary to filing an application for a production or injection well permit.

"Geothermal area" means the general land area that is underlaid or reasonably appears to be underlaid by geothermal resources in a single reservoir, pool, or other source or interrelated sources, as such area or areas may be from time to time designated by the department.

"Geothermal energy" means the usable energy produced or that can be produced from geothermal resources.

"Geothermal reservoir" means the rock, strata, or fractures within the earth from which natural or injected geothermal fluids are obtained.

"Geothermal resource" means the natural heat of the earth at temperatures 70°F or above with volumetric rates of 100 gallons per minute or greater and the energy, in whatever form, present in, associated with, or created by, or that may be extracted from, that natural heat. This definition does not include ground heat or groundwater resources at lower temperatures and rates that may be used in association with heat pump installations.

"Geothermal waste" means any loss or escape of geothermal energy, including, but not limited to:

1. Underground loss resulting from the inefficient, excessive, or improper use or dissipation of geothermal energy; or the locating, spacing, construction, equipping, operating, or producing of any well in a manner that results, or tends to result, in reducing the quantity of geothermal energy to be recovered from any geothermal area in Virginia; provided, however, that unavoidable dissipation of geothermal energy resulting from oil and gas exploration and production shall not be construed to be geothermal waste.

2. The inefficient above-ground transportation and storage of geothermal energy; and the locating, spacing, equipping, operating, or producing of any well or injection well in a manner causing or tending to cause, unnecessary or excessive surface loss or destruction of geothermal energy.

3. The escape into the open air of steam or hot water in excess of what is reasonably necessary in the efficient development or production of a well.

"Geothermal well" means any well drilled for the discovery or production of geothermal resources, any well reasonably presumed to contain geothermal resources, or any special well, converted producing well, or reactivated or converted abandoned well employed for reinjecting geothermal resources.

"Injection well" means a well drilled or converted for the specific use of injecting waste geothermal fluids back into a geothermal production zone for disposal, reservoir pressure maintenance, or augmentation of reservoir fluids.

"Monitoring well" means a well used to measure the effects of geothermal production on the quantity and quality of a potable groundwater aquifer.

"Operator" means any person drilling, maintaining, operating, producing, or in control of any well, and shall include the owner when any well is operated or has been operated or is about to be operated by or under the direction of the owner.

"Owner" means the overlying property owner or lessee who has the right to drill into, produce, and appropriate from any geothermal area.

"Permit" means a document issued by the department pursuant to this chapter for the construction and operation of any geothermal exploration, production, or injection well.

"Person" means any individual natural person, general or limited partnership, joint venture, association, cooperative organization, corporation whether domestic or foreign, agency or subdivision of this or any other state or the federal government, any municipal or quasi-municipal entity whether or not it is incorporated, receiver, trustee, guardian, executor, administrator, fiduciary, or representative of any kind.

"Production casing" means the main casing string which protects the sidewalls of the well against collapse and conducts geothermal fluid to the surface.

"Production record" means written accounts of a geothermal well's volumetric rate, pressure and temperature, and geothermal fluid quality.

"Sequential utilization" means application of the geothermal resource to a use with the highest heat need and the subsequent channeling of the resource to other uses with lower temperature requirements before injection or disposal of the geothermal fluid.

"Unitized drilling operation" means the management of separately owned tracts overlying a geothermal area as a single drilling unit.

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

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-103 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-04-13 § 1, eff. May 1, 1984; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 2, eff. October 24, 2012; Volume 33, Issue 21, eff. July 27, 2017; Volume 38, Issue 13, eff. March 31, 2022.

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