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Part 556: Operating Practices

(Statutory authority: Environmental Conservation Law, §§ 23-0301, 23-0305[8])

[Effective date: May 1, 1972]

[page 1 of 1]



§556.1 Oil wells

(a) The operating practice requirements of subdivisions (b) through (h) below shall be applicable only to oil wells.

(b) All oil wells capable of production shall be equipped with wellhead controls adequate to properly contain and control the flow thereof.

(c) All flowing oil wells except those flowed artificially as a result of water flooding or other secondary recovery techniques must be flowed through an adequate oil and gas separator. In addition, connections or fittings of size adequate to permit efficient measurement of the effluent gas by meter or orifice or other industry-accepted well tester for the purpose of obtaining gas-oil ratios shall be installed on the gas vent line of said separator. Wellhead equipment also shall be installed and maintained in first-class condition so that static bottom hole pressure may be obtained at any reasonable time by the department after notification to the owner or operator and valves shall be installed so that surface pressures can readily be obtained on both casing and tubing.

(d) Except where some alternative rules governing a specific pool are in effect, the owner or operator of any oil well producing from a pool which contains both oil and gas shall be required at least once each calendar year to measure the gas-oil ratio of said well and report same to the department on form OG14. Unless the owner or operator wishes some alternative reporting time, the gas-oil ratio report should be filed with the annual production report on form OG2 as specified in section 551.2 (a) of this Title. At the option of the owner or operator of the well, or upon written request from the department, in order to demonstrate the status of the well on a more current basis, the gas-oil ratio test may be made at a more frequent interval and the results thereof filed with the department on form OG14. Such more recent test shall remain in effect until the annual test shall again be required.

(e) Each oil well shall be permitted to produce without penalty of a restriction in oil production only that volume of gas equivalent to the applicable limiting gas-oil ratio multiplied by the oil production potential of the well as determined by the production rate reported on form OG14. In the event the department has not established a specific gas-oil ratio limit for a particular oil pool, the limiting gas-oil ratio shall be 2,000 cubic feet for each barrel of oil production. If the gas-oil ratio exceeds 2,000 cubic feet of gas for each barrel of oil, it shall be unlawful to produce more oil than is determined by multiplying the oil production potential of the well as reported on form OG14 by a fraction, the numerator of which shall be the limiting gas-oil ratio for the pool and the denominator of which shall be the official gas-oil ratio test of the well as reported on form OG14. All gas produced with the current oil production pursuant to the foregoing ruling shall be deemed to have been lawfully produced.

(f) All wells or developed spacing units which are to be restricted in production because of high gas-oil ratios will be so indicated in a production schedule prepared by the department.

(g) Upon the application therefor by any interested owner or operator, or on the department's own motion, a limiting gas-oil ratio shall be established only after appropriate notice and public hearing. Subsequent hearings may be held in the same manner for the purpose of considering a change in the limiting gas-oil ratio when there is apparent good cause for such revision.

(h) Water-oil ratio surveys and reports shall be conducted by the owner or operator of any producing oil well or wells upon request of the department. Such request may be made on the department's own motion or as a result of a petition therefor and subsequent demonstration of good cause in a public hearing. After a study of the results of the water-oil ratio survey by the department and all interested owners or operators to whom same shall be made available by the department upon request, a public hearing will be held and a ruling issued by the department on the establishment of water-oil ratio limits and restrictions in oil production as a result of excessive water production.

§556.2 Gas wells

(a) The operating practice requirements of subdivisions (b) through (d) below shall be applicable only to gas wells.

(b) No gas from any gas well, except such as is produced in a clean up period not to exceed 48 hours after any completion or stimulation operation, plus that used for the controlled testing of the well's potential in a period not to exceed 24 hours, plus that used in any operational requirements, shall be permitted to escape into the air. Extensions of these time periods shall be granted administratively by the department upon application therefor by the owner or operator and the demonstration of sufficient good cause.

(c) All gas wells capable of production shall be equipped with wellhead controls adequate to properly contain and control the flow thereof.

(d) The department may require the periodic testing of any gas well in such a manner as the department may prescribe in order to establish the producing capacity and characteristics of the well. The owner or operator of any offsetting lease or unit will be permitted to have a representative present to witness any such test.

(e) All gas when produced or sold shall be measured with an adequate and suitable meter of sufficient capacity or measured in such other manner as may be approved by the department. The gas may be metered or measured from a lease or unitized property as a whole or on an individual well basis at the option of the operator. The meter charts and relevant records shall be kept in a permanent file for a period of at least three years and be made available to the department upon written request therefor.

§556.3 Vacuum pumps

The use of vacuum pumps or other devices for the purpose of putting a vacuum on any gas or oil-bearing stratum is prohibited. Exceptions to this ruling may be obtained on an administrative basis, however, from the department upon application and demonstration of good cause.

§556.4 Safety

(a) Oil shall not be produced, stored or retained in earthen reservoirs.

(b) The operation of any well, lease or unit shall be such as to keep and maintain all well locations and lease or unit installations free of rubbish, debris, dead grass, brush, weeds and other inflammable material. All waste oil shall be disposed of in a manner which will not create a fire hazard.

(c) When it is deemed necessary by the department for the protection of life, health, or property, the department may require any lease or other oil storage tanks to be surrounded by an earthen dike which shall have a capacity of one and one-half times the capacity of the tank or tanks it surrounds. This dike shall be continually maintained and the reservoir within shall be kept free from vegetation, water or oil.

(d) All persons controlling or operating any oil and gas wells or pipelines, or receiving tanks, storage tanks, or receiving and storage receptacles into which crude oil is produced, received or stored, or through which oil or gas production or products is piped or transported, shall immediately notify verbally or by telegram the regional headquarters administering to the county in which the disruption specified below has occurred giving current details, and by letter within five days after the event, giving full details concerning all fires including those occasioned by discharges of lightning which occur at such oil or gas wells or tanks or receptacles. A similar report also shall be required for any breaks or leaks in or from tanks or receptacles and pipelines from which oil or gas production or products is escaping or has escaped. In all such reports of fires, breaks, leaks or escapes, or other accidents of this nature, the location of the well, tank, receptacle or line break shall be given so that the location thereof can be readily located on the ground. Such report shall likewise specify what steps have been taken or are in progress to remedy the situation reported and shall detail the quantity of oil or gas lost, destroyed or permitted to escape. In case any tank or receptacle is permitted to run over, the escape thus occurring shall be reported as in the case of a leak. The report hereby required shall be necessary only in case such oil or gas loss creates a fire or pollution hazard or exceeds 100 barrels of oil in the aggregate, or three million cubic feet of gas in the aggregate.

§556.5 Pollution and disposal

(a) Pollution of the land and/or surface or ground fresh water resulting from producing, refining, transportation or processing of oil, gas and products, or in connection with solution mining, is prohibited.

(b) Brine or salt water liquids shall not be stored or disposed of except as follows, unless an alternative procedure has been approved by the department after written application therefor and demonstration of good cause, said permission to be granted on an administrative basis or after public hearing at the discretion of the department:

(1) Brine or salt water may be stored prior to disposition in any watertight tank or container including an earthen pit which is underlaid by tight soil such as heavy clay or hardpan. Where the soil underlying the pit is porous and/or is closely underlaid by a gravel or sand stratum, impounding of brine or salt water in such earthen pit is prohibited unless the pit is lined with watertight material. The earthen pit shall be constructed and maintained so as to prevent escape of brine or salt water therefrom, including maintenance of the level of the impounded fluids, including those added by natural precipitation so that no fluids shall be allowed to escape over or into adjacent lands or into streams or other bodies of water. The department shall have the authority to condemn any pit which does not properly impound such water.

(2) Salt water may be disposed of by injection into the strata from which produced or other proved salt water bearing strata after application for such injection has been approved by the department and under such conditions as may be prescribed. Concurrently with the filing with the department of the application to dispose of salt water by injection, the applicant must send a copy of said application by registered mail to the operators of all leases or units offsetting the lease or unit on which the input well is or will be located and the application must be accompanied by a list of the names and addresses of the offsetting operators and a statement that each has been sent a copy of the application by registered mail, and the date of such mailing. Upon receipt of the application to dispose of salt water by injection, the department will hold same for 10 days. If within said 10-day period, any offset operator reciting reasonable cause, shall file in writing with the department a protest to such disposal, or if the department is not in accord with the proposed injection, the application shall be scheduled for public hearing. If no objection from either an offset operator or the department is interposed within the 10-day period and all other things being in order, the application will be approved and written permission for the injection will be issued by the department prescribing thereon any special conditions that must prevail. The compulsory 10-day waiting period will not be required if the application for permission to dispose of salt water by injection is accompanied by the written consent of the operators of all leases or units offsetting the lease or unit containing the well into which it is proposed to inject salt water and the department has no objection.

§556.6 Lease and well

Any owner or operator of a lease or unit containing one or more producing or producible oil or gas wells shall cause a weatherproof sign to be conspicuously placed where the principal lease road enters the lease or on the tank battery or other lease facilities. Said signs shall show the name of the lease owner or operator, the name of the lease and the lease location as to township. In addition, a legible identifying numeral shall be attached or painted on the wellhead, pumping unit or jack of each well or alternatively, a legible identifying sign shall be placed near each well. In the case of a multiple completion, each wellhead connection shall be appropriately identified.

§556.7 Pool and field names

(a) In order that a clear and ready identification of all oil and gas pools and fields shall be possible, the department shall, after conducting an appropriate review of past and existing nomenclature and usage, issue and maintain a glossary assigning a specific name to each pool and field following an organized system designed to eliminate confusion and duplication. In the pursuance of this activity, the department may require that the owner or operator of any now depleted or producing oil or gas, input or storage well provide a listing of such wells, specifying therewith the pool and field names he has customarily used and recommends be adopted.

(b) The department shall have the authority to assign a specific name to each pool and field. These names shall be assigned following an organized system designed to eliminate confusion and duplication and will be added to and maintained within the glossary discussed in subdivision (a) of this section. The owner or operator of the well in which the discovery completion is effected shall submit in writing to the department within 30 days after the completion thereof three proposed names in order of decreasing preference. The department then will assign an appropriate pool and field name following this sequence of preference, eliminating such as will tend to create confusion and duplication.

(c) In assigning pool and field names under the provisions of subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section, the department will consult with and be aided by the Geological Survey of the State Museum and Science Service of the New York State Department of Education.

(d) The pool and field names as assigned under the provisions of subdivisions (a) and (b) of this section shall be utilized in all correspondence, forms and other relevant identification to or at the order of the department.