805 KAR 1:070. Plugging wells; coal-bearing strata.

 

      RELATES TO: KRS 353.110, 353.120, 353.170, 353.550, 353.739

      STATUTORY AUTHORITY: KRS 353.540, 353.560

      NECESSITY, FUNCTION, AND CONFORMITY: KRS 353.540 authorizes the department to promulgate administrative regulations to administer KRS 353.500 to 353.720. KRS 353.560 requires the department to regulate the plugging of all wells. This administrative regulation identifies the minimum acceptable requirement to plug, or temporarily abandon wells, drilled through coal-bearing strata.

 

      Section 1. (1) Unless written permission is obtained from the department, an operator or owner shall not permit any well drilled for oil, gas, salt water disposal, or any other purpose in connection with the production of oil and gas, to remain unplugged after the well is no longer used for the purpose for which it was drilled or converted. However, nothing shall prevent the department, upon application and for good cause shown, from issuing a temporary abandonment permit, for a period not exceeding two (2) years, to an operator to leave a well unplugged, and nothing shall alter the provisions of KRS 353.170 relative to utilizing a well for the purpose of introducing air, gas, water, or other liquid pressure into or upon the producing strata for the purpose of recovering oil and gas. The permission for temporary abandonment may be renewed at the end of the two (2) year period by reapplication. All wells on which a temporary abandonment permit has been issued shall be cased and capped in a manner as to protect all potential oil and gas zones and coal beds shall be and vented in a manner so as to prevent the accumulation of gas in the bore hole.

      (2) Pursuant to KRS 353.739, the Division of Oil and Gas Conservation shall order a well to be plugged and abandoned if:

      (a) The well’s permit conditions cannot be satisfied by remediation; or

      (b) The operator is not able to meet the ordered remediation.

      (3) If a well is ordered plugged and abandoned pursuant to KRS 353.739 then a temporary abandonment permit shall not be granted.

 

      Section 2. Prior to abandonment of a well drilled through a workable coal bed the well operator shall notify, by registered mail, the owner or owners of record and lessee of record and operators of the coal bed and the proper oil and gas inspector of the intention to plug and abandon the well. The notice shall give the permit number of the well and its location, and fix the time at which the work of plugging and filling will be commenced, the time not to be less than five (5) days after the day on which the notice is received, or in due course should be received, by the department. A representative or representatives of the coal operator or owner and of the department may be present at the plugging and filling of the well. Whether or not these representatives appear, the well operator may proceed, at the time fixed, to plug and fill the well. When the plugging and filling have been completed, an affidavit setting forth the time and manner in which the well was plugged shall be made in triplicate by two (2) experienced men who participated in the work. The affidavit shall be made on Form ED-38. One (1) copy of the affidavit shall be retained by the well operator, one (1) mailed to each coal operator and each owner, and one (1) to the department.

 

      Section 3. If any well drilled through a workable coal bed is abandoned, it shall be plugged to a point forty (40) feet below the lowest workable coal bed, in the following manner: The hole shall be filled with mud, clay, or other nonporous material from the bottom to a point twenty (20) feet above the top of the lowest oil, gas, or water-bearing strata, or a permanent bridge shall be anchored thirty (30) feet below its lowest oil, gas, or water-bearing strata, and from this bridge it shall be filled with mud, clay, or other nonporous material to a point twenty (20) feet above the strata, at which point there shall be placed a plug of cement or other suitable material that will completely seal the hole. Between this sealing plug and a point twenty (20) feet above the next higher oil, gas, or water-bearing strata, the hole shall be treated in a like manner and at that point there shall be placed another suitable plug, that will completely seal the hole. In a like manner the hole shall be filled and plugged or bridged, filled and plugged, with reference to each of its oil, gas or water-bearing strata. If these strata are not widely separated and are free from water, they may be grouped and treated as a single productive stratum. After plugging all strata, a final plug shall be anchored approximately ten (10) feet below the bottom of the largest casing in the well and from that point to the surface the well shall be filled with mud, clay, or other nonporous material.

 

      Section 4. If any of the strata in the well have been shot, creating cavities that cannot readily be filled in the manner described in Section 3 of this administrative regulation, the well operator shall follow either of the following methods:

      (1) If the stratum that has been shot is the lowest one in the well there shall be placed, at the nearest suitable point but not less than twenty (20) feet above the stratum, a plug of cement or other suitable material that will completely seal the hole; but if the shooting has been done above one (1) or more oil or gas-bearing strata in the well, plugging in the manner specified shall be done at the nearest suitable point, but not less than twenty (20) feet below and above the stratum shot.

      (2) If the cavity is in the lowest oil or gas-bearing stratum in the well, a liner shall be placed which shall extend from below the stratum to a suitable point, but not less than twenty (20) feet above the stratum in which the shooting has been done; but if the shooting has been done above one (1) or more oil or gas-bearing strata in the well, the liner shall be so placed that it will extend not less than twenty (20) feet above or less than twenty (20) feet below the stratum in which shooting has been done. After the liner is placed, it shall be compactly filled with cement, clay, or other nonporous sealing material.

 

      Section 5. When a well has been filled and securely plugged to a point forty (40) feet below the lowest workable coal bed, and in the judgment of the well operator, the coal operator, and the department a permanent outlet to the surface is required, the outlet shall be provided in the following manner: A plug of cement or other suitable material shall be placed in the well at a depth, not less than ten (10) feet below the lowest workable coal bed. In this plug and passing through the center of it shall be securely fastened an open pipe, not less than two (2) inches in diameter, which shall extend to the surface. At or above the surface the pipe shall be provided with a device that will permit the free passage of gas and prevent obstruction. After the plug and pipe are set, the hole shall be filled with cement to a point ten (10) feet above the lowest workable coal bed. If there are additional overlying workable coal beds, they shall be treated similarly, if this treatment is necessary in the reasonable judgment of the well operator, the coal operator, and the department. If the parties cannot agree, the decision of the department shall control.

 

      Section 6. In this administrative regulation where mention is made of a "plug of cement or other suitable material", this shall mean hydraulic cement properly mixed with water only. This typed of plug shall fill not less than fifteen (15) feet of bore hole when placed.

 

      Section 7. In Section 2 of this administrative regulation the word "time" shall be both the hour and the day at which the work of plugging and filling will be commenced.

 

      Section 8. If the well to be plugged may safely be used for a fresh water well, and this utilization is desired by the landowner and is agreeable to the owner or operator of all coal-bearing strata beneath the location of the well, the well need not be filled above the required sealing plug set below fresh water; if written authority for the use is secured from the landowner, and coal owner or operator, and filed with the department.

 

      Section 9. Within thirty (30) days after the plugging of any well has been accomplished, the owner or operator of the well shall file a plugging report with the department setting forth in detail the method used in plugging the well. This report shall be made on form ED-38.

 

      Section 10. The operator shall have the option as to the method of placing cement in the hole by:

      (1) Dump bailer;

      (2) Pumping through tubing; or

      (3) Pump and plug.

 

      Section 11. Care shall be taken to insure that when the hole is being filled with mud, clay, or other nonporous material that the hole does not bridge and prohibit the filling of the entire hole as required.

 

      Section 12. Incorporation by Reference. (1) "Affidavit to time and manner of plugging and filling well", Form ED-38, October, 2007, is incorporated by reference.

      (2) This material may be inspected, copied, or obtained, subject to applicable copyright law, at the Division of Oil and Gas Conversation, 1025 Capital Center Drive, Suite 201, Frankfort, Kentucky 40602-2244, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (OAG-Rg-5; 1 Ky.R. 1070; eff. 6-11-1975; 36 Ky.R. 188; 786; eff. 10-23-2009.)