Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
9/22/2021

Article 6. Plugging and Abandonment

4VAC25-150-490. Applicability, conventional gas and oil wells and Class II injection wells.

A. Part II of this chapter sets forth requirements unique to conventional gas and oil wells and wells classified as Class II injection wells by the United States, Environmental Protection Agency under 40 CFR Part 146, Section 146.5.

B. Permittees must comply with the standards of general applicability in Part I of this chapter and with the standards for conventional gas and oil and Class II injection wells in this part, except that whenever the Environmental Protection Agency imposes a requirement under the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program, 40 CFR Part 146, Sections 146.3, 146.4, 146.5, 146.6, 146.7, 146.8, 146.22 and 146.23 that governs an activity also governed by this chapter, the Environmental Protection Agency requirement shall control the permit issued under this chapter.

C. An application for a permit for a Class II injection well which has not been previously drilled under a permit from the director shall be submitted as an application for a new permit. An application for a permit for conversion of a permitted gas or oil well to a Class II injection well shall be submitted as an application for a permit modification.

D. The director shall not issue a permit for a Class II injection well until after the Environmental Protection Agency has issued its permit for the injection well.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3 and 45.1-361.27 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-05-22.1 § 2.1, eff. September 25, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 29, Issue 3, eff. November 8, 2012; Volume 30, Issue 1, eff. October 10, 2013.

4VAC25-150-500. Application for a permit, conventional well or Class II injection well.

A. In addition to the requirements of 4VAC25-150-80 or 4VAC25-150-110, every application for a permit or permit modification for a conventional gas or oil well or a Class II injection well shall contain:

1. The approximate depth to which the well is proposed to be drilled or deepened, or the actual depth to which the well has been drilled;

2. The approximate depth and thickness, if applicable, of all known coal seams, known groundwater-bearing strata, and other known gas or oil strata between the surface and the depth to which the well is proposed to be drilled;

3. If casing or tubing is proposed to be or has been set, a description of the entire casing program, including the size of each string of pipe, the starting point and depth to which each string is to be or has been set, and the extent to which each string is to be or has been cemented; and

4. If the proposed work is for a Class II injection well, a copy of either the permit issued by, or the permit application filed with the Environmental Protection Agency under the Underground Injection Control Program.

5. The procedures to be followed to protect the safety of persons working in an underground coal mine for any well to be drilled within 200 feet of or into active workings. The permittee shall give notice of such drilling to the mine operator and the chief at least two working days prior to drilling.

B. In addition to the requirements of 4VAC25-150-80 and 4VAC25-150-110, every application for a permit or permit modification for a conventional gas or oil well or a Class II injection well may contain, if the proposed work is to drill, redrill or deepen a well, a plan showing the proposed manner of plugging the well immediately after drilling if the proposed well work is unsuccessful.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3 and 45.1-361.27 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-05-22.1 § 2.2, eff. September 25, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Errata, 15:6 VA.R. 938 December 7, 1998; amended, Volume 29, Issue 3, eff. November 8, 2012; Volume 30, Issue 1, eff. October 10, 2013.

4VAC25-150-510. Plats, conventional wells or Class II injection wells.

A. In addition to the requirements of 4VAC25-150-90, every plat for a conventional gas or oil well shall show:

1. The boundaries of any drilling unit established by the board around the subject well;

2. The boundaries and acreage of the tract on which the well is located or is to be located;

3. The boundaries and acreage of all other tracts within one-half of the distance specified in § 45.1-361.17 of the Code of Virginia or within one-half of the distance to the nearest well completed in the same pool, whichever is less, or within the boundaries of a drilling unit established by the board around the subject well;

4. Surface owners on the tract to be drilled and on all other tracts within the unit where the surface of the earth is to be disturbed;

5. All gas, oil or royalty owners on any tract located within one half of the distance specified in § 45.1-361.17 of the Code of Virginia or within one-half of the distance to the nearest well completed in the same pool, whichever is less, or within the boundaries of a drilling unit established by the board around the subject well;

6. Coal owners and mineral owners on the tract to be drilled and on all other tracts located within 500 feet of the subject well location;

7. Coal operators who have registered operations plans with the department for activities located on the tract to be drilled, or who have applied for or obtained a coal mine license, coal surface mine permit or a coal exploration notice or permit from the department with respect to all tracts within 500 feet of a proposed gas or oil well;

8. Any inhabited building, highway, railroad, stream, permitted surface mine or permitted mine opening within 500 feet of the proposed well; and

9. If the plat is for an enhanced oil recovery injection well, any other well within 2,500 feet of the proposed or actual well location, which shall be presumed to embrace the entire area to be affected by an enhanced oil recovery injection well in the absence of a board order establishing units in the target pool of a different size or configuration.

B. If the well location is underlain by known coal seams, or if required by the director, the well plat shall locate the well and two permanent points or landmarks with reference to the mine coordinate system if one has been established for the area of the well location, and shall in any event show all other wells, surface mines and mine openings within the scope of the plat.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3 and 45.1-361.27 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-05-22.1 § 2.3, eff. September 25, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Volume 29, Issue 3, eff. November 8, 2012; Volume 30, Issue 1, eff. October 10, 2013.

4VAC25-150-520. Setback restrictions, conventional wells or Class II injection wells.

No permit shall be issued for any well to be drilled closer than 200 feet from any inhabited building unless site conditions as approved by the director warrant the permission of a lesser distance and there exists a lease or agreement between the operator and the owner of the inhabited building. A copy of the lease or agreement shall accompany the application for a permit.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3 and 45.1-361.27 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-05-22.1 § 2.4, eff. September 25, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Volume 29, Issue 3, eff. November 8, 2012; Volume 30, Issue 1, eff. October 10, 2013.

4VAC25-150-530. Casing requirements for conventional gas or oil wells.

A. Water-protection string.

1. Except as provided in subdivision A 5 of this section, the permittee shall set a water-protection string to a point at least 300 feet below the surface or 50 feet below the deepest known groundwater horizon, whichever is deeper, circulated and cemented in to the surface. If the cement does not return to the surface, every reasonable attempt shall be made to fill the annular space by introducing cement from the surface.

2. The operator shall test or require the cementing company to test the cement mixing water for pH and temperature prior to mixing the cement and to record the results on the cementing ticket.

3. After the cement is placed, the operator shall wait a minimum of eight hours and allow the cement to achieve a calculated compressive strength of 500 psi before drilling, unless the director approves a shorter period of time. The wait-on-cement (WOC) time shall be recorded within the records kept at the drilling rig while drilling is taking place.

4. When requested by the director, the operator shall submit copies of cement tickets or other documents that indicate the above specifications have been followed.

5. A coal-protection string may also serve as a water-protection string.

B. Coal-protection strings.

1. When any well penetrates coal seams that have not been mined out, the permittee shall, except as provided in subdivisions B 2 and B 3 of this section, set a coal-protection string. The coal-protection string shall exclude all fluids, oil, gas and gas pressure except that which is naturally present in each coal seam. The coal-protection string shall also exclude all injected material or disposed waste from the coal seams and the wellbore. The string of casing shall be set to a point at least 50 feet below the lowest coal seam, or as provided in subdivision B 3 of this section, and shall be circulated and cemented from that point to the surface or to a point not less than 50 feet into the water-protection string or strings which are cemented to the surface.

2. For good cause shown, either before or after the permit is issued, when the procedure specified in subdivision B 1 is demonstrated by the permittee as not practical, the director may approve a casing program involving the cementing of a coal-protection string in multiple stages, or the cementing of two or more coal-protection strings, or the use of other alternative casing procedures. The director may approve the program provided he is satisfied that the result will be operationally equivalent to compliance with the provisions of subdivision B 1 of this section for the purpose of permitting the subsequent safe mining through of the well or otherwise protecting the coal seams as required by this section. In the use of multiple coal-protection strings, each string below the topmost string shall be cemented at least 50 feet into the next higher string or strings that are cemented to the surface and be verified by a cement top log.

3. Depth of coal-protection strings:

a. A coal-protection string shall be set to the top of the red shales in any area underlain by them unless, on a showing by the permittee in the permit application, the director has approved the casing point of the coal-protection string at some depth less than the top of the red shales. In such event, the permittee shall conduct a gamma ray/density log survey on an expanded scale to verify whether the well penetrates any coal seam in the uncased interval between the bottom of the coal-protection string as approved and the top of the red shales.

b. If an unanticipated coal seam or seams are discovered in the uncased interval, the permittee shall report the discovery in writing to the director. The permittee shall cement the next string of casing, whether a part of the intermediate string or the production string, in the applicable manner provided in this section for coal-protection strings, from a point at least 50 feet below the lowest coal seam so discovered to a point at least 50 feet above the highest coal seam so discovered.

c. The gamma ray/density log survey shall be filed with the director at the same time the driller's log is filed under 4VAC25-150-360.

d. When the director believes, after reviewing documentation submitted by the permittee, that the total drilling in any particular area has verified the deepest coal seam higher than the red shales, so that further gamma ray/density logs on an expanded scale are superfluous for the area, he may waive the constructing of a coal-protection string or the conducting of such surveys deeper than 100 feet below the verified depth of the deepest coal seam.

C. Coal-protection strings of wells drilled prior to July 1, 1982. In the case of wells drilled prior to July 1, 1982, through coal seams without coal-protection strings substantially as prescribed in subsection B of this section, the permittee shall retain such coal-protection strings as were set. During the life of the well, the permittee shall, consistent with a plan approved by the director, keep the annular spaces between the various strings of casing adjacent to coal seams open to the extent possible, and the top ends of all such strings shall be provided with casing heads, or such other approved devices as will permit the free passage of gas or oil and prevent filling of the annular spaces with dirt or debris.

D. Producing from more than one stratum. The casing program for any well designed or completed to produce from more than one stratum shall be designed in accordance with the appropriate standard practices of the industry.

E. Casing through voids.

1. When a well is drilled through a void, the hole shall be drilled at least 30 feet below the void, the annular space shall be cemented from the base of the casing up to the void, and every reasonable attempt shall be made to fill the annular space from the top of the void to the surface, or it shall be cemented at least 50 feet into the next higher string or strings of casing that are cemented to the surface and be verified by a cement top log.

2. For good cause shown, the director may approve alternative casing procedures proposed by the permittee, provided that the director is satisfied that the alternative casing procedures are operationally equivalent to the requirements imposed by subdivision E 1 of this section.

3. For good cause shown, the director may impose special requirements on the permittee to prevent communication between two or more voids.

F. A well penetrating a mine other than a coal mine. In the event that a permittee has requested to drill a well in such a location that it would penetrate any active mine other than a coal mine, the director shall approve the safety precautions to be followed by the permittee prior to the commencement of activity.

G. Reporting of lost circulation zones. The permittee shall report to the director as soon as possible when an unanticipated void or groundwater horizon is encountered that results in lost circulation during drilling. The permittee shall take every necessary action to protect the lost circulation zone.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3 and 45.1-361.27 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-05-22.1 § 2.5, eff. September 25, 1991; amended, Virginia Register Volume 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998; Volume 29, Issue 3, eff. November 8, 2012; Volume 30, Issue 1, eff. October 10, 2013.

4VAC25-150-535. Pressure testing requirements for production casing in conventional gas or oil wells.

A. The operator shall install casing that can withstand the effects of tension and can prevent leaks, burst, and collapse during (i) the casing's installation and cementing and (ii) subsequent drilling and producing operations.

B. Except as provided in subsection C of this section, all casing must be a string of new pipe with an internal pressure rating that is at least 20% greater than the anticipated maximum pressure to which the casing will be exposed.

C. Used casing may be approved for use as surface, intermediate, or production casing but shall be pressure tested after cementing and before completion. A passing pressure test is holding the anticipated maximum pressure to which it will be exposed for 30 minutes with not more than a 10% decrease in pressure.

D. New or used plain end casing, except when being used as conductor pipe, that is welded together for use must meet the following requirements:

1. The casing must pass a pressure test by holding the anticipated maximum pressure to which the casing will be exposed for 30 minutes with not more than a 10% decrease in pressure. The operator shall notify the department electronically at least 24 hours before conducting the test. The test results shall be entered on the drilling report.

2. The casing shall be welded using at least three passes with the joint cleaned between each pass.

Statutory Authority

§§ 45.1-161.3, 45.1-361.4, and 45.1-361.27 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 33, Issue 7, eff. December 28, 2016.

4VAC25-150-540. (Repealed.)

Historical Notes

Derived from VR480-05-22.1 § 2.6, eff. September 25, 1991; repealed, Virginia Register 15, Issue 2, eff. November 11, 1998.

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