American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018 - 168

ConventionCoverage: Illinois Oil & Gas Association
wells drilled 5,000 feet deep or to the top
of the Trenton formation, whichever is
greater, for oil produced from a reservoir
other than limestone/dolomite. Historically,
Mankowski recalled, Illinois regulations
required 40-acre spacing on all wells
drilled deeper than 4,000 feet. Early last
year, the OOGRM revised that rule to allow 20-acre spacing on wells drilled to
5,000 feet or the top of the Trenton for
oil produced from a limestone/dolomite
reservoir, but "we forgot to put in the 10acre units," he acknowledged. This year's
amendment fixes that omission.
In addition, Mankowski said, the new
rules reduce the interwell setback from
660 feet to 330 feet and lower the setback
from drilling unit boundaries to 10 feet.
Lease boundary setbacks remain at 330
feet. Without the spacing changes, he
observed, "If you were drilling a well on
10 acres, you had to drill in the dead
center of that unit. There was nowhere
else to go without requesting a special or
modified drilling unit."
OOGRM also revised its horizontal
drilling rules by eliminating the "primary"
and "post-primary" designations and allowing laterals to travel in any direction.
"The last time the horizontal drilling section was amended, it allowed for drilling
only in the cardinal directions: north,
south, east, west," Mankowski reflected.
"But that doesn't really work for Illinois
geology. This should give greater flexibility

because you can stack laterals in the way
that makes the most technical sense."
TA Pressure Tests
Another major change, Mankowski
went on, is clarifying pressure testing
requirements for temporarily abandoned
wells, which he admitted had been poorly
worded, resulting in inconsistent enforcement.
There is no change for TA wells if the
fluid level is more than 100 feet below
freshwater. "You do a fluid level test
every two years and go about your business," he advised.
But if the fluid level is less than 100
feet below freshwater, for a well already
in TA status, he said, the new rules require
the operator to set a cast-iron bridge plug
and then either remove fluid to 100 feet
below freshwater and monitor every two
years, or pressure test and renew every
five years.
For wells not already in TA status,
Mankowski continued, the operator may
remove fluid to at least 100 feet below
freshwater, then recheck the fluid level
between 48 and 96 hours later. If the
fluid level does not stay 100 feet below
freshwater, he detailed, the operator then
must set a cast-iron bridge plug. If the
fluid does stay down, the operator must
retest 9-12 months later. As long as the
fluid level stays at least 100 feet below
freshwater thereafter, the operator remains

Illinois Oil & Gas Association President Craig Hedin (center), vice president and general
counsel of Gesell's Pump Sales & Service, pauses with Michael D. Mankowski (left),
director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources' Office of Oil and Gas Resource
Management, and Keith Shank, chief of the IDNR Office of Realty and Environmental
Planning's Impact Assessment Section, during IOGA's annual meeting, Feb. 28-March 1
in Evansville, In.

168 THE AMERICAN OIL & GAS REPORTER

on a two-year testing schedule, Mankowski
finished.
A fourth major change to OOGRM's
rules, Mankowski said, is replacing the
single form for well transfers signed by
both the buyer and seller with separate
forms for each. The problem, he noted,
was that sometimes a new permittee delayed signing the form, which forced
the old permittee to pay annual well
fees. Or, if a new permittee had uncorrected violations on record, the old permittee still was liable for fees and compliance, even though it had no right to
operate the well.
Under the new system, Mankowski
said, once OOGRM receives a transfer
notice from the old permittee, the wells
are moved to the new permittee's well list,
making it responsible for fees and compliance. The new permittee may not operate
the wells until OOGRM approves its transfer
acceptance notice. He added that the new
rules include a hearing process to protect
against fraudulent transfer notices.
"This may, in the long run, stick the
department with more abandoned wells
if we have new permittees that can't clean
up their administrative records," Mankowski allowed. "But that seems more fair
than having people pay for wells they
can't operate."
Three other amendments in the package
becoming effective, Mankowski said:
* Eliminate the "100 percent ownership" language in OOGRM's permitting
rules;
* Clarify public notice requirements
for injection wells; and
* Incorporate the 2014 Oil and Gas
Act amendment deadlines into modified
and special drilling unit hearings, and
allow hearings to be held electronically.
Endangered Species Consultation
Endangered species consultation, which
OOGRM began requiring for its permitting
process last year, is required by two state
statutes, Chief Shank advised IOGA: the
Illinois Endangered Species Protection Act
and the Natural Areas Preservation Act.
Those two laws, he said, require state
agencies and local governments to consult
with IDNR whenever an action they "authorize, fund or perform" is likely to adversely modify essential habitat for a
threatened or endangered species, or one
of the 1,600 sites of "unusual conservation
value" listed in the Illinois Natural Areas
Inventory.
Shank said IDNR had developed an
ecological compliance assessment tool,



American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2018

Contents
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