Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
10/3/2023

Part II. Information Requirements

9VAC15-20-60. Description of the gas or oil operation.

A. The applicant shall describe the gas or oil operation to be performed. The description of the operation should include information on the location, size (length, height, width and area), and number of such facilities and related land requirements (including easements or rights-of-way). The information should also include a timetable for establishing, completing and removing drilling operations and constructing, operating and removing production facilities.

B. The discussion of the operation shall be accompanied by:

1. A general location map depicting the operations area and surrounding areas at a map scale which is as detailed or more detailed than a map at a scale of 1:24,000; and

2. Detailed site plats of the proposed operations area at a scale no greater than 1:600 depicting the location of:

a. Proposed land-disturbing activities;

b. Facilities and equipment, pipeline corridors, and natural resource features discussed in 9VAC15-20-70 that can be graphically presented and that will be or could be affected by the proposed operation; and

c. Any existing manmade features within the proposed operations area, including but not limited to buildings, water wells, roads, drainage ditches, ponds, etc.

C. The description of the operation shall include a discussion of the following:

1. The type of drilling operation;

2. Power systems, energy or fuel sources necessary for drilling and associated facilities equipment operation;

3. Fluid circulation systems including a discussion of and a list of the proposed drilling fluids, fluid components, toxicity classification, and information on the projected amount and rate of drilling fluid production;

4. Well control and blowout prevention devices including a description of the proposed methods of containment of potential oil, gas or waste fluid releases;

5. Any proposed utility connections for water supply or sewage disposal purposes;

6. Projected types, quantities, and chemical characteristics of waste from gas, oil or geophysical operations, including any planned surface water or groundwater emissions referencing where possible information available from previous gas or oil operations conducted in Tidewater Virginia;

7. Projected types, quantities, and chemical characteristics of solid wastes produced by the operation referencing where possible information from previous gas or oil operations conducted in Tidewater Virginia;

8. Proposed on-site and off-site solid and liquid waste management procedures including waste transfer areas and procedures, disposal areas or facilities, handling facilities and equipment, storage areas and related facilities and equipment, and proposed methods of disposal whether by land application, burying, injection or by other means;

9. Any planned enhanced recovery activities related to the production of gas or oil from the proposed well;

10. Projected air emissions by source, quantity, chemical characteristics, and duration resulting from the proposed operation on an average daily basis referencing where possible information available from previous gas or oil operations conducted in Tidewater Virginia;

11. Methods which will be used to acquire necessary water supplies to conduct the proposed operation including the amount of daily withdrawals, daily or weekly fluctuations in withdrawal rates, duration of withdrawals, and any effects on stream flow, how much water will be needed to support the operation, and how such water supplies will be used in the proposed operation;

12. Descriptions, presented in narrative and graphic format as appropriate, of proposed erosion and sediment control practices and stormwater management practices which will be installed to manage surface water quality;

13. Descriptions, presented in narrative and graphic format as appropriate, of proposed site reclamation and revegetation plans for all operations areas; and

14. Descriptions of proposed gas or oil production and transportation facilities and equipment.

D. A description of land-disturbing activities which will result from the proposed operation should include a discussion of the size, extent and location of activities including the following activities:

1. The clearing of vegetation, including a description of the types of vegetation to be cleared;

2. Land grading and filling activities;

3. Constructing new or expanded access roads;

4. Constructing fluid reserve pits, sumps, dikes, tanks or similar devices;

5. Constructing associated facilities whether inside or outside of the operations area;

6. Constructing and installing pipeline systems including proposed trenching, earth-moving, or vegetation clearing activities; and

7. Constructing and installing gas or oil production facilities and equipment.

Statutory Authority

§§ 10.1-1188 et seq. and 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.1, eff. November 3, 1993.

9VAC15-20-70. Description of the environment and natural resource features potentially affected by the gas or oil operation.

A. The discussion under this part shall include a description of the existing environment and natural resource features that will be or may be affected by the gas or oil operation and how they will be or may be affected. The analysis of the environment and natural resource features shall encompass, at the minimum, any area located within 1320 feet of a proposed well and within 100 feet of proposed pipeline systems or associated facilities unless the applicant for the permit to drill can demonstrate that a smaller impact analysis area is appropriate given the nature and location of the proposed gas or oil operation and the potential impact of such an operation on the environment and natural resources. The 1320-foot distance is half of the statewide well spacing requirement set out for gas wells in § 45.2-1616 of the Code of Virginia and will ensure that the impact analysis for wells established in Tidewater Virginia at the statewide spacing will be tangential. The 100-foot distance from pipelines and associated facilities will ensure that Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas or other environmentally sensitive resources that may be affected by the oil or gas operation will be detected. The potential for impacts by the proposed oil or gas operation on natural resource features and the environment that are located outside of the 1320-foot impact analysis area for wells and the 100-foot impact analysis area for pipeline systems and associated facilities shall also be considered and discussed. The discussion shall be supported with graphic information in the form of a plat at a scale between 1:1000 and 1:4000 showing the location of natural resources that will be or may be affected by the proposed operation. The discussion shall include:

1. Physical site conditions such as:

a. Topographical features including relief, slope, project area elevation, and landscape features such as beaches, sand dunes, shorelines, etc.;

b. Surface water hydrology and drainage patterns including locations of embayments, rivers or streams and related subaqueous beds, tidal or nontidal wetlands, and the 100-year floodplain in the watershed potentially affected by the proposed operation;

c. Existing surface water quality characteristics and how water quality may be affected by emissions from the proposed operation;

d. Existing air quality and how air quality may be affected by emissions from the proposed operation;

e. Geological conditions such as groundwater hydrogeology, including the depths to the top and bottom of groundwater aquifers; general characteristics of the geologic strata to be penetrated by drilling activities; and a discussion of the possibility for land subsidence and any potential impacts associated with land subsidence which may result from the operation;

f. A description of the existing water quality of groundwater aquifers that will be or may be affected by drilling activities or liquid waste disposal activities focusing particularly on the potability of water in potentially affected aquifers and the extent to which identified aquifers are currently used as domestic or community water supplies;

g. A discussion of the soil types on which an operation will be located, including an identification of prime agricultural lands, highly permeable soils, highly erodible soils, and soil profile descriptions of each representative soil series on the well site to a depth of 72 inches;

h. The identification and location of any public water supply intakes within the watershed where an operation will occur and located within 10 miles downstream of the proposed well site or any public or private water supply wells located within a one-mile radius of the proposed oil or gas well drilling operation; and

i. Chesapeake Bay Preservation Areas, both Resource Protection Areas (RPAs) and Resource Management Areas (RMAs), located within 1320 feet of the proposed operations area.

2. Biological conditions and resources including:

a. A description of the terrestrial and aquatic habitat types and associated flora and fauna, including any natural heritage resources that are documented by performing a natural heritage survey in conformance with methodologies established by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and any rare, threatened, or endangered species present;

b. A description of the use patterns of terrestrial habitat by wildlife, including areas such as nesting, roosting, breeding, and calving areas or other unique natural habitat;

c. A description of the use patterns of freshwater, estuarine, and marine habitat by terrestrial and aquatic species, including submerged aquatic vegetation, fish spawning areas, shellfish beds, habitat of anadromous fish and other finfish, and benthic organisms; and

d. State Wildlife Management Areas, State Natural Area Preserves, National Wildlife Refuges, or elements of Virginia's National Estuarine Research Reserve System or other unique or important natural communities.

3. Culturally important areas such as historical, open space, and recreational resources, including those resources listed in the Virginia Outdoors Plan, including:

a. Historic properties that are documented by performing a historic properties survey in conformance with guidelines established by the Department of Historic Resources;

b. Public beaches;

c. Scenic resources;

d. Public water access sites;

e. Local, state, or national parks, recreational areas, open space, or forests;

f. State-owned or state managed lands;

g. Federally-owned or federally managed lands;

h. Easements held for agricultural, forestal, open space, horticultural, or other conservation purposes; and

i. Prime agricultural lands as identified by the U.S. Soil Conservation Service and important farm lands as identified by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

B. Describe the typical noise levels currently existing at the proposed operations areas. Describe any operation activities that will produce noise over 65 decibels measured at the boundary of the operations area, the source and daily duration of those activities producing the noise, and the estimated external noise level at the nearest noise receptor such as a residence, school, hospital, business, public meeting place, feature identified in the Virginia Outdoors Plan, or wildlife habitat. The applicant should describe what measures, if any, will be taken to reduce projected exterior noise levels below 65 decibels at the nearest receptor.

C. Describe any activities associated with the operation that will produce light or glare within the operations area after sundown and before dawn. Describe the hours that artificial lighting sources will exist, including flaring of wells, gas processing facilities, or production facilities, the intensity of any light sources, and the time such light sources would be in operation. Describe the potential aesthetic, nuisance, safety, or environmental hazards that light or glare may produce outside of the operations area. Describe what steps, if any, that will be taken to minimize light or glare.

D. Describe the actions and measures that will be taken to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts on natural, scenic, recreational, and historic resources identified in the assessment. The assessment shall also discuss irrevocable or irreversible losses of the natural resources identified in the assessment.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.2, eff. November 3, 1993; amended, Virginia Register Volume 38, Issue 8, eff. January 5, 2022.

9VAC15-20-80. Procedures for estimating the probability of a discharge.

The assessment shall provide an analysis of the probabilities of accidental discharges of oil, condensate, natural gas, and waste from gas, oil or geophysical operations or liquids being released into the environment during drilling, production, and transportation due to well blowout, equipment failure, transportation accidents and other reasons. Such an analysis shall include calculations based upon generally accepted engineering failure analysis procedures. An applicant shall calculate a spill probability analysis for three sizes of discharge events -- minor, moderate, or major. The applicant shall define the categories of minor, moderate or major discharge and describe the sources of information used to formulate the analyses and the assumptions used to construct the analyses. Discharge probability analyses for minor discharges should include calculations for a discharge that would not be expected to escape the operations area.

Statutory Authority

§§ 10.1-1188 et seq. and 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.3, eff. November 3, 1993.

9VAC15-20-90. Procedures for determining the consequences of a discharge.

The environmental impact assessment shall include a description of potential environmental and natural resource effects associated with discharges including the consequences of a discharge on finfish, shellfish and other marine or freshwater organisms; birds and other wildlife; air and water quality; land and water resources; and including the specific environmental and natural resource features listed in 9VAC15-20-70. The analysis should be specific to the proposed operation, the proposed location of the operation, and the natural resources in the vicinity of the proposed operation. The spill analysis shall be completed for oil, condensate, waste from gas, oil or geophysical operations or fluids, and natural gas discharges resulting from minor, moderate or major discharges as defined and described pursuant to the requirements of 9VAC15-20-80.

Statutory Authority

§§ 10.1-1188 et seq. and 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.4, eff. November 3, 1993.

9VAC15-20-100. Spill release and contingency planning.

The environmental impact assessment shall describe procedures that will be developed and implemented to prepare for, equipment that will be installed to detect and respond to, and facilities and equipment that will be installed or available to contain minor, moderate and major discharges of oil, condensate, natural gas, waste from gas, oil, or geophysical operations or fluids as defined pursuant to the requirements of 9VAC15-20-80 as well as fires or other hazards to the environment. A discharge contingency plan prepared in conformance with the requirements of the State Water Control Board's regulation entitled "Facility and Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Regulation" (9VAC25-91) will fulfill the information requirement of this section.

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.5, eff. November 3, 1993; amended, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 13, eff. March 26, 2014.

9VAC15-20-110. Hydrogen sulfide release contingency planning.

A. A discussion of the potential for encountering hydrogen sulfide shall be included in the assessment. The assessment shall discuss steps that will be taken, if any, to respond if indicators of such gas are encountered, if there exists a potential for a release of hydrogen sulfide gas, or in the event of a hydrogen sulfide release.

B. A hydrogen sulfide release contingency plan should address the following:

1. Methods and devices that will be used to detect hydrogen sulfide gas to prevent the gas from becoming an environmental concern and include a description of detection equipment to be used and equipment testing and calibration procedures.

2. Operating procedures to be employed if the operations area atmospheric concentration of hydrogen sulfide gas reaches limits established by the Department of Labor and Industry in "VR 425-02-36 Air Contaminants (1910.1000)" and include a discussion of:

a. Appropriate emergency notification procedures for local residents, emergency service and medical personnel;

b. Notification procedures for responsible regulatory agencies; and

c. Appropriate visual and audible warning systems for atmospheric hydrogen sulfide gas within the operations area.

3. The potential for continuous low-level hydrogen sulfide emissions (one hour average) to result in concentrations in areas of public access above levels deemed harmful to human health in accordance with the State Air Pollution Control Board's "Emission Standards for Toxic Pollutants from Existing Sources" (9VAC5-60-200 through 9VAC5-60-270) and "Emission Standards for Toxic Pollutants from New and Modified Sources" (9VAC5-60-300 through 9VAC5-60-370).

Statutory Authority

§ 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.6, eff. November 3, 1993; amended, Virginia Register Volume 30, Issue 13, eff. March 26, 2014.

9VAC15-20-120. Economic impacts.

A. Describe the potential impacts of the proposed operation on the economic characteristics of the affected locality and, as necessary, surrounding localities. The information should address how these economic characteristics will be affected during (i) the drilling and construction phases of the operation, and (ii) the production phases of the operation. In all projections constructed by the applicant, the methodology for constructing projections and the assumptions, calculations and computations used to formulate projections should also be presented and described.

B. The description should include information on the following conditions:

1. An analysis of the potential positive or negative effects of the proposed operation on the current population with regard to potential changes in the demographic structure of the locality according to age, income and employment characteristics;

2. An analysis of the projected employment levels including estimates of the variation in employment levels over time for (i) the drilling and construction phases of the operation, including the construction of pipeline systems, associated facilities and production facilities, and (ii) the production phases of the proposed operation. Indicate whether any new positions created by the proposed construction and operations activities may be or will be filled from the labor pool available in the affected locality or in neighboring localities;

3. The types of services that can be provided from businesses located in the affected locality or in surrounding localities. Include a general estimate of the amount of contract awards that will be or could be made available to service providers in the affected locality and neighboring localities and the projected duration of service contracts;

4. The existing land uses, including residential, forestal, agricultural, commercial, industrial, urban, suburban, open space, recreational or other land use characteristics within the locality that will be affected, changed or which may be subject to change as a result of the proposed operation. The discussion shall be supported with graphic information in the form of a plat or plats of existing land uses within 1320 feet of the well and within 100 feet of associated facilities and pipeline systems at a scale between 1:1000 and 1:4000; and

5. The locality's affected industrial and commercial bases and economic conditions with emphasis on dominant economic sectors (i.e., agriculture, forestry, fishing and aquaculture, service industries, and industrial activities). Special attention should be given to the tourism and recreation industries and how they may be affected by the operation. Describe how the proposed location of the operation may adversely affect or displace other natural resource-based commercial activities and enterprises in the affected locality or in neighboring localities such as agriculture, fishing, tourism, forestry, etc.

C. Describe the actions and measures that will be taken to avoid impacts, minimize impacts, and mitigate unavoidable impacts on economic characteristics identified in the assessment. The assessment should also discuss irreversible impacts on or commitments of local economic resources based upon impacts identified in the assessment.

Statutory Authority

§§ 10.1-1188 et seq. and 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.7, eff. November 3, 1993.

9VAC15-20-130. Fiscal impacts.

A. The assessment should present an analysis of the existing fiscal characteristics, revenue structure, and physical infrastructure in the county, city, or town where the proposed operation is to be located to the extent they may be affected by the proposed operation. The applicant should identify measures that may need to be undertaken in order to maintain or expand the services, revenue sources, expenditure levels and capital facilities of the affected local government due to the proposed operation. As appropriate, the applicant should describe any new, upgraded or expanded infrastructure and capital facilities that will be necessary to support the proposed operation, estimates how much improvements may cost and the person or persons who will be responsible for providing necessary infrastructure or capital facility improvements. In all projections of potential effects on infrastructure and related fiscal impacts, methodologies for constructing projections, related assumptions, calculations and computations used to formulate projections should also be presented and described.

B. The assessment should address the following fiscal and infrastructure elements:

1. The transportation systems including roads, railroads or existing oil or gas pipelines that are available to support the operation and how they will be affected by the proposed operation. The discussion should include an estimate of the number of vehicle trips that will be generated on the transportation system, the size of any operational support vehicles, and the design capacity of affected roads relative to the projected size, weight and volume of vehicle traffic. Identify any new transportation system needs, including pipeline systems and roads, necessary to meet the demands of the proposed operation and how the applicant will develop or assist in developing and upgrading necessary transportation systems;

2. Infrastructure and capital facility support systems available including utility services, water services, sewer services, solid waste disposal services and facilities, etc. and the projected demands the proposed operation will place on such systems and their existing capacity to respond to that demand. Identify any needed upgrades or expansion of related infrastructure, equipment or services, estimate the cost of providing upgrades, and describe how the applicant will assist in providing resources to met such needs;

3. The availability of public safety and health services such as hospitals, emergency rescue services, police and fire services and related infrastructure and the capacity to respond to accidents or incidents that may result from the gas or oil operation. Identify any needed upgrades or expansion of related infrastructure, equipment or services, estimate the cost of providing upgrades, and describe how the applicant will assist in providing resources to meet such needs;

4. The distribution of existing temporary and permanent housing units within the locality and whether these will be adequate to accommodate the projected influx of the operation workers. Discuss how any need for temporary housing may affect existing land uses. Also, discuss how any projected housing needs will be met by the applicant if available units are insufficient to meet the projected housing demand; and

5. The public service needs, including but not limited to educational services, recreational needs, and social services, that will be generated by the immigration of laborers into the affected locality in support of the operation. Discuss the capacity of these services and whether the existing capacity is sufficient to handle the projected population increase. If the existing capacity is projected to be insufficient to meet anticipated needs, the applicant should explain what measures will be necessary to address increased service needs.

C. Describe the actions and measures that will be taken to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts on fiscal characteristics identified in the assessment associated with the expansion or development of infrastructure to support the proposed operation.

Statutory Authority

§§ 10.1-1188 et seq. and 45.2-1646 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR304-02-01 § 2.8, eff. November 3, 1993.

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