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Regulated Well Types

New York's "Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law"

The Division of Mineral Resources regulates (oversees) the drilling, construction, operation, plugging and reclamation of all wells in New York under Environmental Conservation Law Article 23 (link leaves DEC website), titled the "Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law." The title of the law however, does not represent the complete list of well types regulated by the Division (see Article 23, Titles 3 and 13).

The law, and the corresponding rules and regulations, apply to the following well types:

Regulated Well Types
Any Depth Depths Greater Than 500
Oil and gas Stratigraphic
Underground gas storage Geothermal
Solution salt mining Brine Disposal

Any operator or individual planning to drill, deepen, plug back, convert, or plug and abandon any of these well types must have a well permit from the Division of Mineral Resources.

Public access to data on Wells in New York State as well as Downloadable Well Data are provided by the Division or Mineral Resources.

Regulated Wells of Any Depth

Oil and Natural Gas Wells

Most wells in New York are drilled to explore for and/or produce oil and natural gas. Hydrocarbons (oil and gas) are used in our daily lives for gasoline, home cooking/heating, plastics manufacturing, and much more. There are approximately 3,700 active oil wells and 6,700 active gas wells in New York.

Underground Gas Storage Wells

Natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are stored underground in caverns or reservoirs to help meet seasonal demands for energy. Gas is injected into underground storage wells when consumer demand is low (usually during warmer months) and withdrawn when demand increases during the colder months.

In addition to a well permit, a separate underground gas storage permit is required for a new underground storage facility, a capacity modification of an existing facility, or the conversion of a liquefied petroleum gas storage facility to a natural gas storage facility.

New York currently has 27 natural gas storage facilities with more than 950 associated natural gas injection/withdrawal and monitoring wells, and 3 LPG storage facilities with 13 associated LPG injection/withdrawal wells.

Solution Salt Mining Wells

Solution salt mining wells are used to produce brine for a variety of end products. Salt mined in New York is used for chlorine and soda ash production, as well as for food products, water softening, and other industrial and chemical purposes.

There are currently 5 operating solution salt mining facilities with approximately 150 active brine wells.

Regulated Wells Drilled Deeper Than 500 Feet

Stratigraphic Wells

Operators drill stratigraphic wells for a variety of reasons, including 1) to evaluate subsurface (underground) rock formations for mineral resources; 2) to investigate subsurface conditions in problem areas; or 3) to gather information for research or construction projects. In recent years stratigraphic wells have been drilled in Chenango, Dutchess, Livingston, Orange, Schuyler, Tompkins and Westchester counties. A total of 290 stratigraphic wells over 500 feet in depth have been drilled in New York.

Geothermal Wells

Geothermal wells are used as a source for heating and cooling both residential and commercial buildings. Geothermal wells include those for finding/producing hot water or steam, injecting fluids to recover heat from underground, and geothermal heat pump wells. 128 geothermal wells over 500 feet in depth have been drilled in Albany, Bronx, Cayuga, Essex, Nassau, New York, Richmond, Tompkins and Westchester Counties.

DEC's Division of Water (DOW) regulates geothermal wells drilled less than five hundred feet deep.

If you are interested in learning about geothermal heat systems, useful resources include the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the International Ground Source Heat Pump Association (links leaving DEC website).

Brine Disposal Wells

When brine is brought to the surface during production from oil or gas wells, it is separated from the hydrocarbons (oil or gas). The produced brine might then be re-injected into the ground using a brine disposal well. Brine disposal wells are considered Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II wells and require a permit from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (link leaving DEC website) in addition to the permit required by the Division of Mineral Resources.

Any brine disposal well, regardless of total well depth, may require a State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit. DEC's Division of Water must be contacted for a determination of whether a SPDES permit is necessary to operate a brine disposal well.

There are 5 operating brine disposal wells in New York, located in Allegany, Genesee, Livingston and Steuben counties.

More about Regulated Well Types:

  • Geothermal Wells Deeper Than 500 Feet - Geothermal wells include wells for finding or producing hot water or steam, and for injecting fluids to recover heat from the surrounding geologic materials. Geothermal well owners are subject to the same well permitting and reporting requirements as owners of the other wells we regulate.
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