The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality (PDEQ) has proposed new casing and other well regulations, largely as a result of the growing natural gas shale drilling in the state in the formation know as the Marcellus Shale. This gas repository stretches from West Virginia to New York. The proposed rulemaking would incorporate and update existing requirements, with modifications regarding the drilling, casing, cementing, testing, monitoring and plugging of oil and gas wells, and the protection of water supplies. The proposed modifications include updated material specifications and performance testing, and revised design, construction, operational, monitoring, plugging, water supply replacement, and gas migration reporting requirements. With this proposed rulemaking, the PDEQ states that it is adding additional measures that will further minimize the concerns associated with gas migration.
One company drilling has been accused of causing natural gas to migrate to local water water wells. There has been some degree of controversy over hydraulic fracturing and drilling in the shale in Pennsylvania.
The PDEQ states that the reasons for the regulations are to align Pennsylvania's regulations with other states' rules as well as current industry standards. Casing and cement testing will detect construction deficiencies before a well could create a potential safety or environmental problem. Minimizing annular pressure will reduce the potential for gas migration. The new quarterly inspections and annual reporting for operating wells will be a vital tool for operators to use in detecting potential safety or environmental impacts before they may become a public health or safety issue. This is the PDEQ's rationale for the new rules.
The proposed regulations also outline the procedures the operator and the PDEQ will utilize if there is a reported gas migration event.