A year-end workload report for 2016 by the Department of Environmental Protection shows conventional oil and gas drilling sites have 5 times the number of violations as Marcellus Shale drilling operations and 3.5 times the number of enforcement actions.
In 2016 DEP did 15,858 inspections of conventional oil and gas facilities and found 1,800 violations for a 11.35 percent violation rate or 88.65 percent compliance rate.
DEP took 376 enforcement actions against the conventional drillers based on those violations.
In contrast, DEP did 14,894 inspections of unconventional or Marcellus Shale operations and found 354 violations-- in spite of the much more complex nature of those operations-- for a 2.37 percent violation rate or a 97.63 percent compliance rate.
DEP took 108 enforcement actions against unconventional operators as a result of those violations.
The number of new wells drilled during 2016 dropped significantly over 2015 and 2014.
In 2016 there were 499 new unconventional (Marcellus Shale) wells drilled, 784 in 2015 and 1,371 in 2015
There were 94 conventional wells drilled in 2016, 286 in 2015 and 790 in 2014.
In 2016, DEP issued 1,299 permits for unconventional drilling operations and 162 permits for conventional wells. This is down from 2,081 unconventional permits in 2015 and 3,185 permits in 2014 and 439 conventional permits in 2015 and 1,268 permits in 2014.
A copy of DEP’s workload report for 2016 is available online.
See DEP’s 2015 Oil & Gas Program Annual Report for more historical information on compliance, permits issued and much more.
Starting Over On Conventional Regs
Last June the General Assembly passed and Gov. Wolf signed into law Act 52 killing updated conventional drilling regulations DEP had worked on for several years, forcing DEP to start the process over this year.
A new PA Grade Crude Development Advisory Council also formed by Act 52 last June to help advise DEP on conventional regulations has not yet announced its first organizational meeting.
On Wednesday, Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango) author of the bill that turned into Act 52 killing DEP’s conventional drilling regulations circulated a co-sponsor memo to his colleagues saying he plans to introduce legislation to re-write the 1984 Oil and Gas Act and Act 13 of 2012 to “make it reflective of today’s conventional oil and gas industry.”
Sen. Hutchinson added, “... Act 13 also placed an unbearable burden on the much smaller conventional producers and over time has brought the conventional industry to near collapse.”
“To help alleviate this,” Sen. Hutchinson said, “I am introducing a redraft of the Oil and Gas Act with new language designed to update or clarify old provisions where needed. This will help to provide a legislative framework for regulations specific to conventional oil and gas drillers in a way that protects the environment while preserving this valuable industry.”