PA Code

Chapter 78 - Oil and Gas Wells

Subchapter D - Well Drilling, Operation and Plugging

Part 4 - Inactive Status

§ 78.101. General provisions.

     Upon application, the Department will grant inactive status for 5 years for a permitted or registered well if the application meets the requirements of section 204 of the act (58 P. S. §  601.204) and § §  78.102—78.105. The Department may require information to demonstrate that the conditions imposed by §  78.102 (relating to criteria for approval of inactive status) are satisfied.

Source - The provisions of this §  78.101 adopted July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229; amended December 16, 1994, effective December 17, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 6284. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (138850).

Cross References - This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.91 (relating to general provisions).

§ 78.102. Criteria for approval of inactive status.

     To obtain inactive status, the applicant shall affirmatively demonstrate to the Department’s satisfaction that:
          (1)  The condition of the well is sufficient to:
               (i)  Prevent damage to the producing zone or contamination of fresh water or other natural resources or surface leakage of substances.
               (ii)  Stop the vertical flow of fluid or gas within the well bore.
               (iii)  Protect fresh groundwater.
               (iv)  Pose no threat to the health and safety of persons, property or the environment.
          (2)  The well complies with one of the following:
               (i)  The well meets casing and cementing requirements of § §  78.81—78.86 (relating to casing and cementing).
               (ii)  For wells not drilled in conformance with casing and cementing requirements of § §  78.81—78.86, and for the purpose of the annual monitoring of wells granted inactive status as required by §  78.103 (relating to annual monitoring of inactive wells), the applicant demonstrates that:
                    (A)  For oil and gas wells equipped with surface casing, the operator shall demonstrate that the liquid level in the well bore is maintained at a level at no higher than the water protection depth. For purposes of this clause where oil or gas bearing formations are encountered less than 100 feet below the surface casing seat, the water protection depth shall be that point midway between the top of the oil or gas bearing formation and the surface casing seat.
                    (B)  If the liquid level in an oil or gas well equipped with surface casing stands above the water protection depth and below the groundwater table depth, the operator shall test the liquid to determine its quality. If the liquid has a total dissolved solids content or conductivity generally equivalent to fresh groundwater in the immediate area, the casing is assumed to be either leaking or not set deep enough to shut off groundwater, and mechanical integrity is not demonstrated and inactive status will not be granted unless the operator demonstrates that the well is in compliance with the shut-in portion of the mechanical integrity test requirements of the Under Ground Injection Control program under the Safe Drinking Water Act (21 U.S.C.A. §  349; 42 U.S.C. § §  201, 300f—300j-11). If the liquid has a total dissolved solids content or conductivity equivalent to the production formation or production liquid, mechanical integrity is considered to be demonstrated.
                    (C)  For oil wells not equipped with surface casing or for oil wells equipped with surface casing that cannot be approved for inactive status under paragraph (2)(ii)(A) or (B), the operator shall modify the well to meet one of the following:
                         (I)  The operator shall set a string of casing on a packer sufficiently deep to isolate the fresh groundwater system. The casing shall be set to the water protection depth for wells in the area, and the requirements of paragraph (2)(ii)(A) or (B) shall be met.
                         (II)  The operator has set a temporary plug or mechanical seal at the water protection depth and isolated the fresh groundwater system. The operator may demonstrate the integrity of the plug by demonstrating that water standing above the plug is, and continues to be, fresh water not contaminated by production fluids, or by other means acceptable to the Department.
                         (III)  The operator shall fill the well with a freshwater bentonite gel or other material approved by the Department which will restrict vertical migration of gas or fluids in the well bore. The operator shall monitor the gel level and report significant changes to the Department on an annual basis and take remedial action approved by the Department.
                    (D)  For gas wells equipped with production casing separate from the surface casing, the annulus between the surface or coal protective casing and the production casing is vented to the atmosphere. The owner or operator of a well granted inactive status under this clause shall monitor the annular vents for gas flow volumes. If the gas flow volume exceeds 5,000 cubic feet per day, the owner or operator shall notify the Department and take remedial action approved by the Department.
                    (E)  For gas wells not equipped with separate production casing, but with cemented or uncemented surface casing present, the produced gas shut-in pressure is less than the pressure necessary to cause gas migration into the adjacent formation at the surface casing seat. Compliance with this condition may be demonstrated by mechanical tests of the casing and by evidence that the gas wellhead shut-in pressure does not exceed 0.433 psi per foot of surface or coal protective casing depth.
          (3)  If gas exists at an inactive oil well, the operator may vent the gas to the atmosphere or equip the well to confine the gas to the producing formation. If this gas flow is greater than 5,000 cubic feet per day, the owner or operator shall notify the Department and take remedial action approved by the Department.
          (4)  The applicant shall certify that the well is of future utility and shall present a viable plan for utilizing the well within a reasonable time. In addition to providing information to demonstrate compliance with paragraphs (1) and (2), the application for inactive status shall include the following:
               (i)  A plan showing when the well will be used.
               (ii)  A certification identifying that one of the following applies:
                    (A)  Significant reserves remain in place and the operator plans to produce the well.
                    (B)  The well will be used as a disposal well.
                    (C)  The well will be used as a storage well.
                    (D)  The well will be used as an observation well.
                    (E)  The well will be used as a secondary or tertiary recovery injection well or that the well will be used for other purposes specified by the applicant.
               (iii)  Other information necessary for the Department to make a determination on inactive status.

Source - The provisions of this §  78.102 adopted July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229.

Cross References - This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.91 (relating to general provisions); 25 Pa. Code §  78.101 (relating to general provisions); 25 Pa. Code §  78.103 (relating to annual monitoring of inactive wells); 25 Pa. Code §  78.104 (relating to term of inactive status); and 25 Pa. Code §  78.105 (relating to revocation of inactive status).

§ 78.103. Annual monitoring of inactive wells.

     The owner or operator of a well granted inactive status shall monitor the integrity of the well on an annual basis and shall report the results to the Department. The owner or operator shall give the Department 3 working days prior notice of the annual monitoring and mechanical integrity testing. For wells that were drilled in accordance with the casing and cementing standards of § §  78.81—78.86 (relating to casing and cementing), the operator shall monitor the integrity of the well by using the method described in §  78.102(2)(ii)(A), (B), (D) or (E) (relating to criteria for approval of inactive status), as appropriate. For a well that was not drilled in accordance with the casing and cementing standards, the wells shall be monitored in accordance with §  78.102(1). To qualify for continued inactive status, the owner or operator shall demonstrate, by the data in the monitoring reports, that the condition of the well continues to satisfy the requirements of §  78.102. The owner or operator shall submit the report by March 31 of the following year.

Source - The provisions of this §  78.103 adopted July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229; amended December 16, 1994, effective December 17, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 6284. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (138853).

Cross References - This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.91 (relating to general provisions); 25 Pa. Code §  78.101 (relating to general provisions); 25 Pa. Code §  78.104 (relating to term of inactive status); 25 Pa. Code §  78.102 (relating to criteria for approval of inactive status); and 25 Pa. Code §  78.105 (relating to revocation of inactive status).

§ 78.104. Term of inactive status.

     Approval of inactive status for a well is valid for 5 years unless revoked. After 5 years, the owner or operator shall plug or return to active status a well granted inactive status unless the Department grants an application for a 1-year extension. The operator of a well granted inactive status may apply for renewal of inactive status by demonstrating that the well continues to satisfy the conditions imposed on the well by § §  78.102 and 78.103 (relating to criteria for approval of inactive status; and annual monitoring of inactive wells).

Source - The provisions of this §  78.104 adopted July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229; amended December 16, 1994, effective December 17, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 6284. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (138854).

Cross References - This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.91 (relating to general provisions); 25 Pa. Code §  78.101 (relating to general provisions); and 25 Pa. Code §  78.105 (relating to revocation of inactive status).

§ 78.105. Revocation of inactive status.

     The Department may revoke inactive status and may order the immediate plugging of a well if one of the following applies:
          (1)  The well is in violation of the act or regulations administered by the Department.
          (2)  The operator of the inactive well has become insolvent, to the extent that the plan provided under §  78.102 (relating to criteria for approval of inactive status) is no longer viable to return the well to active status, or the operator otherwise demonstrates a lack of ability or intention to comply with applicable laws and regulations.
          (3)  The condition of the well no longer satisfies the requirements of section 204 of the act (58 P. S. §  601.204) and § §  78.102—78.104 (relating to criteria for approval of inactive status; annual monitoring of inactive wells; and term of inactive status).
          (4)  The owner or operator is unwilling or unable to perform his obligations under the act.

Source - The provisions of this §  78.105 adopted July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229; amended December 16, 1994, effective December 17, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 6284. Immediately preceding text appears at serial page (138854).

Cross References - This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.91 (relating to general provisions); and 25 Pa. Code §  78.101 (relating to general provisions).