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§22-21-6. Permit required for coalbed methane well; permit fee; application; soil erosion control plan; penalties.

(a) It is unlawful for any person to commence, operate, deepen or stimulate any coalbed methane well, to conduct any horizontal drilling of a well commenced from the surface for the purpose of commercial production of coalbed methane or to convert any existing well, vent hole or other hole to a coalbed methane well, including in any case site preparation work which involves any disturbance of land, without first securing from the chief a permit pursuant to this article.

(b) Every permit application filed under this section shall be verified and shall contain the following:

(1) The names and addresses of: (i) The well operator; (ii) the agent required to be designated under subsection (e) of this section; and (iii) every person or entity whom the applicant must notify under section nine of this article;

(2) The name and address of each coal operator of record and each coal owner of record or providing a record declaration of notice pursuant to section thirty-six, article six of this chapter of any coal seam which is: (i) To be penetrated by a proposed well; (ii) within seven hundred fifty horizontal feet of any portion of the proposed well bore; or (iii) within one hundred vertical feet of the designated coal seams to be stimulated in the proposed well, except that in the case of an application to convert a ventilation hole to a gob well, the name and address only of such owner or operator of the seams to be penetrated by a proposed well shall be necessary;

(3) The well name or such other identification as the chief may require;

(4) The approximate depth to which the well is to be drilled, deepened or converted, the coal seams (stating the depth and thickness of each seam) in which the well will be completed for production and any other coal seams (including the depth and thickness of each seam) which will be penetrated by the well;

(5) A description of any means to be used to stimulate the well;

(6) If the proposed well will require casing or tubing to be set, the entire casing program for the well, including the size of each string of pipe, the starting point and depth to which each string is to be set and the extent to which each such string is to be cemented;

(7) If the proposed operation is to convert an existing well, as defined in section one, article six of this chapter, or to convert a vertical ventilation hole to a coalbed methane well, all information required by this section, all formations from which production is anticipated and any plans to plug any portion of the well;

(8) Except for a gob well or vent hole proposed to be converted to a well, if the proposed coalbed methane well will be completed in some but not all coal seams for production, a plan and design for the well which will protect all workable coal seams which will be penetrated by the well;

(9) If the proposed operations will include horizontal drilling of a well commenced on the surface, a description of such operations, including both the vertical and horizontal alignment and extent of the well from the surface to total depth;

(10) Any other relevant information which the chief may require by rule.

(c) Each application for a coalbed methane well permit shall be accompanied by the following:

(1) The applicable bond prescribed by section eight of this article;

(2) A permit application fee of $650;

(3) The erosion and sediment control plan required under subsection (d) of this section;

(4) The consent and agreement of the coal owner as required by section seven of this article and, if applicable, section twenty of this article;

(5) A plat prepared by a licensed land surveyor or registered engineer showing the district and county in which the drill site is located, the name of the surface owner of the drill site tract, the acreage of the same, the names of the surface owners of adjacent tracts, the names of all coal owners underlying the drill site tract, the proposed or actual location of the well determined by a survey, the courses and distances of such location from two permanent points or landmarks on said tract, the location of any other existing or permitted coalbed methane well or any oil or gas well located within two thousand five hundred feet of the drill site, the number to be given the coalbed methane well, the proposed date for completion of drilling, the proposed date for any stimulation of the well and, if horizontal drilling of a well commenced on the surface is proposed, the vertical and horizontal alignment and extent of the well;

(6) A certificate by the applicant that the notice requirements of section nine of this article have been satisfied by the applicant. Such certification may be by affidavit of personal service, or the return receipt card, or other postal receipt, for certified mailing.

(d) An erosion and sediment control plan shall accompany each application for a permit. Such plan shall contain methods of stabilization and drainage, including a map of the project area indicating the amount of acreage disturbed. The erosion and sediment control plan shall meet the minimum requirements of the West Virginia erosion and sediment control manual as adopted and, from time to time, amended by the Office of Oil and Gas in consultation with the several soil conservation districts pursuant to the control program established in this state through Section 208 of the federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, 33 U.S.C. §1288. The erosion and sediment control plan shall become part of the terms and conditions of a permit and the provisions of the plan shall be carried out where applicable in operations under the permit. The erosion and sediment control plan shall set out the proposed method of reclamation which shall comply with the requirements of section thirty, article six of this chapter.

(e) The well operator named in such application shall designate the name and address of an agent for such operator who shall be the attorney-in-fact for the operator and who shall be a resident of the State of West Virginia, upon whom notices, orders or other communications issued pursuant to this article may be served, and upon whom process may be served. Every well operator required to designate an agent under this section shall within five days after the termination of such designation notify the office of such termination and designate a new agent.

(f) The well owner or operator shall install the permit number as issued by the chief in a legible and permanent manner to the well upon completion of any permitted work. The dimensions, specifications and manner of installation shall be in accordance with the rules of the chief.

(g) The chief shall deny the issuance of a permit if he or she determines that the applicant has committed a substantial violation of a previously issued permit, including the erosion and sediment control plan, or a substantial violation of one or more of the rules promulgated hereunder, and has failed to abate or seek review of the violation. In the event that the chief finds that a substantial violation has occurred with respect to existing operations and that the operator has failed to abate or seek review of the violation in the time prescribed, he or she may suspend the permit on which said violation exists, after which suspension the operator shall forthwith cease all work being conducted under the permit until the chief reinstates the permit, at which time the work may be continued. The chief shall make written findings of any such determination made by him or her and may enforce the same in the circuit courts of this state and the operator may appeal such suspension pursuant to section twenty-five of this article. The chief shall make a written finding of any such determination.

(h) Any person who violates this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $5,000 or be confined in jail not more than one year, or both fined and confined.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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