Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 45.2. Mines, Minerals, and Energy
Chapter 16. Virginia Gas and Oil Act
10/16/2021

§ 45.2-1611. (Effective October 1, 2021) Objections by coal owner.

A. In deciding on objections by a coal owner to a proposed permit modification or drilling unit modification, only the following questions shall be considered:

1. Whether the work can be done safely with respect to persons engaged in coal mining at or near the well site; and

2. Whether the well work is an unreasonable or arbitrary exercise of the well operator's right to explore for, market, and produce gas or oil.

B. In deciding on objections by a coal owner to the establishment of a drilling unit, the issuance of a permit for a new well, or the stimulation of a coalbed methane gas well, the following safety aspects shall first be considered, and no order or permit shall be issued where the evidence indicates that the proposed activity will be unsafe:

1. Whether the drilling unit or drilling location is above or in close proximity to any mine opening or shaft, entry, travel way, airway, haulageway, drainageway, or passageway, or to any proposed extension thereof, in any operated or abandoned or operating coal mine or in any coal mine already surveyed and platted but not yet being operated;

2. Whether the proposed drilling can reasonably be done through an existing or planned pillar of coal, or in close proximity to an existing well or such pillar of coal, taking into consideration the surface topography;

3. Whether the proposed well can be drilled safely or the proposed coalbed methane gas well can be stimulated safely, taking into consideration the dangers from creeps, squeezes, or other disturbances due to the extraction of coal; and

4. The extent to which the proposed drilling unit or drilling location or stimulation of the coalbed methane gas well unreasonably interferes with the safe recovery of coal, gas, or oil.

C. The following questions with respect to the drilling unit or drilling location of a new well or stimulation of a new coalbed methane gas well shall also be considered:

1. The extent to which the proposed drilling unit or drilling location or coalbed methane gas well stimulation will unreasonably interfere with present or future coal mining operations;

2. The feasibility of moving the proposed drilling unit or drilling location to a mined-out area, an area below the coal outcrop, or some other area;

3. The feasibility of a drilling moratorium for not more than two years in order to permit the completion of coal mining operations;

4. The methods proposed for the recovery of coal and gas;

5. The practicality of locating the unit or the well on a uniform pattern with other units or wells;

6. The surface topography and use; and

7. Whether the decision will substantially affect the right of the gas operator to explore for and produce the gas.

D. The factors in subsection C are not intended to and shall not be construed to authorize the Director, or the Board under § 45.2-1638, to supersede, impair, abridge, or affect any contractual rights or obligations existing between the respective owners of coal and gas or any interest therein.

1982, c. 347, § 45.1-318; 1990, c. 92, § 45.1-361.11; 2021, Sp. Sess. I, c. 387.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.