Columbia Natural Resources, Inc. (Pine Hill Field)
April 23, 2001
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
NOTICE OF NEGATIVE DECLARATION
PROPOSED WELL SPACING AND INTEGRATION OF INTERESTS
Proposed Project: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") proposes to establish spacing and integration rules for portions of acreage located in the Towns of Cohocton and Prattsburg, Steuben County, designated as the Pine Hill Field (DMN Project No. DMN-01-4). Please consult the maps of this field for a more precise description (see Document Availability, below). The field is located southeast of North Cohocton, New York.
Background and Purpose: Columbia Natural Resources, Inc. ("CNR"), 900 Pennsylvania Avenue, Charleston, West Virginia, 25302, is conducting an exploration and development program on portions of leasehold acreage located in Steuben County, as described above. To date, discoveries of natural gas have been realized from four wells drilled to an average depth of 7,400 feet to the Ordovician Trenton-Black River Formations. In terms of overall size of the project, CNR is focusing its drilling efforts in an area that extends from North Cohocton, southeastward for approximately 4 miles. CNR has determined that the productive extent of the reservoir in the Pine Hill Field is defined by the four existing wells. Therefore, CNR does not anticipate drilling future wells outside the field. Permits to drill were issued for the four existing wells pursuant to Section 552.1 of Title 6 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York ("6 NYCRR 552.1").
CNR has proposed 4 production units in the Pine Hill Field which its geologists and engineers believe represent the reservoir volume likely to be drained by each well. Two production units contain a very small number of unleased parcels where the right to develop the oil and/or natural gas has not been conveyed to CNR. CNR holds oil and gas leases on 96.80% of the acreage in the four proposed units.
An order establishing spacing rules will serve to configure production units for each of the existing wells and will include procedures for future infill wells. All ownership interests identified for existing production units and proposed spacing units will be integrated so that the royalties attributable to development within each unit can be disseminated.
DEC Staff has entered into a Stipulation with CNR dated October 26, 2001. DEC Staff's position is that this Stipulation, a copy of which is available as indicated below at Document Availability, resolves the following issues: the distribution of escrowed production royalties; and integration of unleased parcels contained in some of the production units. DEC Staff has requested a public hearing to allow all interested parties the opportunity to discuss the issues and facilitate a decision addressing the establishment of spacing and integration rules for the Pine Hill Field.
SEQRA Status: The DEC is lead agency for review of this action under the State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA," Environmental Conservation Law ("ECL") Article 8 and 6 NYCRR Part 617). DEC Staff has reviewed the establishment of spacing rules and the integration of interests within units for the Pine Hill Field in accordance with the criteria set forth in 6 NYCRR 617.7 and has determined that the establishment of the spacing and integration rules within the units will have no significant adverse impact on the environment. DEC Staff issued a negative declaration to this effect on March 27, 2002.
Public Hearing: A hearing to receive unsworn statements from the public on the proposal will be held at the WAYLAND-COHOCTON CENTRAL SCHOOL, ADULT LEARNING CENTER, 2350 ROUTE 63, WAYLAND, NEW YORK, at 7:00 P.M . on THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2002. All persons, organizations, corporations, or government agencies which may be affected by the proposal are invited to attend the hearing and to submit oral or written comments on the proposal. It is not necessary to file a written request in advance to speak in this portion of the hearing. Equal weight will be given to both oral and written statements. Written statements may be filed with the Office of Hearings and Mediation Services at the address below prior to the start of the hearing. It is requested that lengthy statements be submitted in writing. The hearing will be conducted pursuant to 6 NYCRR Part 624 (Permit Hearing Procedures).
Please note that no smoking is allowed on the school property, and that food and drink may not be brought into the hearing. The hearing location is reasonably accessible to persons with a mobility impairment. Interpreter services will be made available to deaf persons, at no charge, upon written request to the Administrative Law Judge named below at least five business days prior to the date of the hearing.
Issues Conference: A pre-adjudicatory hearing issues conference will be held at the WAYLAND-COHOCTON CENTRAL SCHOOL, ADULT LEARNING CENTER at 9:00 A.M. on FRIDAY, MAY 24, 2002. The purpose of the issues conference is to define, narrow and resolve, if possible, the issues concerning the establishment of spacing and integration rules for the Pine Hill Field which are proposed for adjudication at the adjudicatory hearing session. Participation in the issues conference is limited to the Applicant, DEC Staff, and persons who have petitioned for party status as discussed below. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT ANY PERSONS REQUESTING PARTY STATUS APPEAR OR BE REPRESENTED AT THE ISSUES CONFERENCE IN ORDER THAT ALL VALID ISSUES MAY BE FULLY DISCUSSED.
Petitions for Party Status: Party status to participate in an adjudicatory hearing, if one is necessary, will be accorded only to those persons who file a written petition requesting party status, pursuant to 6 NYCRR 624.5 and 624.4(c). A petitioner for party status must demonstrate that a substantive and significant issue exists concerning the proposed project. Please see 6 NYCRR 624.4 and 624.5 for further information on party status and identification of issues. The adjudicatory hearing would be held on a date to be scheduled later, if necessary.
ALL FILINGS REQUESTING PARTY STATUS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE ADJUDICATORY HEARING MUST BE RECEIVED AT THE OFFICE OF HEARINGS AND MEDIATION SERVICES AT THE FOLLOWING ADDRESS NO LATER THAN CLOSE OF BUSINESS ON FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2001. Such filings must be submitted to: SUSAN J. DuBOIS, ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE, NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION, OFFICE OF HEARINGS AND MEDIATION SERVICES, 625 BROADWAY, ALBANY, NEW YORK, 12233-1550 (telephone 518-402-9003).
All persons filing for party status must also send a copy of their petition at the same time and in the same manner to Arlene Lotters, Esq., NYS DEC Division of Legal Affairs, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-1500 and to the attorney for CNR, Christopher B. Wallace, Esq., 1602 Sunset Avenue, Utica, New York 13502.
DOCUMENT AVAILABILITY: All filed documents are available for inspection during normal business hours at the following locations:
1. NYS DEC Office of Hearings and Mediation Services, 625 Broadway, 1st Floor, Albany, New York 12233-1550 (518-402-9003)
2. NYS DEC Division of Mineral Resources, 625 Broadway, 3d Floor, Albany, New York 12233-6500 (518-402-8056, Contact: Thomas E. Noll)
3. NYS DEC Region 8 Headquarters, 6274 East Avon-Lima Road, Avon, New York 14414-9519 (716-226-2466, Contact: Randall Nemecek)
4. NYS DEC Region 8 Sub-Office, 276 Sing Sing Road, Suite 1, Horseheads, New York 14845 (607-739-0809, Contact: Joseph Yarosz)
5. Town of Cohocton Supervisor, P.O. Box 327, 15 South Main Street, Cohocton, New York 14826-0327 (585-384-9531, Contact: Victor F. Sick)
6. Town of Prattsburg Supervisor, P.O. Box 427, 15 Chapel Street, Prattsburg, New York 14873 (607-522-3744, Contact: Shirley Shaver)
The stipulation and exhibits will be available by close of business on April 26, 2002.
STATUTORY AND REGULATORY PROVISIONS: Environmental Conservation Law Article 1 (General Provisions); Article 3, Title 3 (General Functions); Article 8 (State Environmental Quality Review); Article 23, Titles 3, 5, and 9 (Mineral Resources); Article 70 (Uniform Procedures); and 6 NYCRR Parts 550 (Promulgation and Enforcement of Rules and Regulations), 552 (Permits to Drill, Deepen, Plug Back or Convert Wells), 553 (Well Spacing); Part 617 (SEQRA), and Part 624 (Permit Hearing Procedures).
Chief Administrative Law Judge
Albany, New York
April 23, 2001