Department of Environmental Conservation

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Oil and Gas

Oil, Gas and Solution Salt Mining in New York State

Protecting the Environment

DEC's Division of Mineral Resources mission is to ensure the environmentally sound, economic development of New York's non-renewable energy and mineral resources for the benefit of current and future generations. Responsible development of non-renewable energy sources includes a primary focus on protecting land, air, and water supplies.

To carry out this mission, the Division of Mineral Resources regulates drilling and operation of all oil, natural gas, underground gas storage, and solution mining wells regardless of depth, as well as brine disposal, geothermal, and stratigraphic wells deeper than 500 feet. Further, the Division requires the plugging and abandonment of these wells after they have fulfilled their intended use and ensures that all sites are properly reclaimed (land is revegetated and restored).

The Division ensures that activities related to these regulated wells are conducted in an environmentally sound manner consistent with Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) and its implementing regulations 6 NYCRR Parts 550 through 559.

To further protect the environment, DEC and NYSERDA (New York State Energy Research and Development Authority) announced a new drone-based initiative in late 2020 to address climate change by locating abandoned oil and gas wells. The drone technology and precision equipment will help locate abandoned wells that may be emitting methane into the atmosphere and can be prioritized for well plugging. This will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and aid in achieving New York's Climate Act goals. Read more about finding and identifying oil and gas wells.

Producing oil well with pump jack in a green field, yellow flowers and blue skies.

Lind #2 oil well in production

Drilling in New York

Oil and natural gas production have a rich history in the State of New York. The first commercial natural gas well in the United States was drilled in Fredonia, New York in 1821. The first commercial oil well in the state was drilled not long after in 1865 in Carrollton, NY.

Solution salt mining in New York dates back to the 1800's. The first solution salt mining well in the state was drilled in 1878. New York is consistently in the top three salt-producing states in the United States.

More than 75,000 wells have been drilled in New York; about 14,000 of these are still active, and new drilling continues. The interactive map, DECinfo Locator, provides access to well locations and links to well-specific information.

How We Use Resources

Hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas) are used in everyday life, from home heating oil/gas, to gasoline in our cars, to fabric, paint, and plastics manufacturing. Salt from solution mining wells is used for chlorine, water conditioning, road salt, and food products. Thus, oil, gas, and solution salt mining wells remain an important part of New York's economy. Extraction of oil and gas contributes half a billion dollars annually to the state's economy while the value of New York's solution salt mining production is estimated at over $100 million.

Wells in NY are also drilled for:

  • underground gas storage;
  • geothermal heating/cooling;
  • stratigraphic exploration; and
  • brine disposal.

Permits

Any potential environmental impacts from drilling and well operation are minimized through regulations and a permitting program. Permits are tools that allow DEC to implement guidelines and conditions to protect the land and environment during and after oil and gas extraction. When a permit application is received, the Division of Mineral Resources performs a detailed review of a proposed project and assess and potential environmental impacts in accordance with the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR). All well drilling applications must comply with the ECL and its implementing regulations which:

  • require setbacks from municipal water wells, surface bodies and streams;
  • protect groundwater by mandating a casing and cementing program for each well. Casing and cementing prevent the flow of oil, gas or salt water between underground formations;
  • require proper containment and disposal of drilling fluids, highly saline brines and other wastes;
  • contain conditions to prevent the escape of gas from wells;
  • inhibit oil spills through drilling permit requirements;
  • require proper plugging and abandonment of all wells; and
  • require that land impacted by drilling be reclaimed.

DB-13 well being drilled


Regulation Enforcement

The Division of Mineral Resources monitors and inspects well sites throughout drilling, production, and well plugging operations to ensure compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations, orders, and permit conditions. If violations are observed, the Division will coordinate with operators to make certain that any pollution concerns are remediated and all compliance issues are resolved; however, DEC has the legal right to pursue enforcement actions under authority granted through ECL Article 71, Title 13.

Policy Declaration

New York State Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (ECL Article 23) includes provisions that:

  • regulate the development, production and utilization of natural resources of oil and gas in New York in a way to prevent waste;
  • authorize and provide for the operation and development of oil and gas properties so
    • there is a greater ultimate recovery of oil and gas, and
    • the correlative rights (fair access to a shared reservoir) of all owners and the rights of all persons including landowners and the general public are fully protected, and
  • provide for the underground storage of gas, the solution mining of salt and geothermal, stratigraphic and brine disposal wells.

Complete text of the law can be found in the New York State Legislation website.

Contact Us

Questions regarding well permitting and related activities, or operational issues should be directed to the appropriate regional office based on where the well is proposed or located. Questions regarding statewide policy, financial security or regulatory fees should be directed to Central Office in Albany.

Email us with general questions, or contact the appropriate staff in the table below:

Oil and Gas Contacts
Region Staff Telephone
Regions 1-5 -
Wells and Permitting
Regional Minerals Manager
Central Office, Albany
(518) 402-8056
Regions 6-8 -
Wells and Permitting
Regional Minerals Manager
Region 8, Avon
(585) 226-5376
Region 9 -
Wells and Permitting
Regional Minerals Manager
Region 9, Allegany
(716) 372-0645
Statewide -
Underground Gas
Storage Permitting
Technology & Facilities
Section Chief
Central Office, Albany
(518) 402-8056
Statewide -
Compliance
& Enforcement
Compliance & Enforcement
Section Chief
Central Office, Albany
(518) 402-8056
Statewide -
Financial Security
Compliance & Enforcement
Agency Program Aide
Central Office, Albany
(518) 402-8056

If you are looking for information pertaining to mining and mined land reclamation, visit Mining & Reclamation.


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