Draft Rule Proposes Increased Buffer Between Drilling And Homes

Sep 5, 2014

A pump jack sits in front of a house and a drilling rig behind it in a housing development in northern Colorado.
Credit Stephanie Joyce

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will get its first look at a draft rule for oil and gas well setbacks next week.

As oil and gas drilling moves into populated areas nationwide, the distance of wells from houses, barns and other structures has become an issue. In Wyoming, the current setback distance is 350 feet, but landowner groups have said that’s unacceptably close. In a May letter, the Powder River Basin Resource Council asked the state for a minimum 1500 foot setback for wells near a Cheyenne subdivision.

Oil and gas supervisor Mark Watson declined to provide a copy of the draft rule until the Commission has seen it, but says generally speaking, it would make setbacks 500 feet for vertical wells and 750 feet for horizontal wells. As is the case now, the supervisor would be able to grant exceptions to the rule for good cause.

Colorado adopted a 500 feet well setback distance last year and Dallas adopted a 1500 foot well setback. Watson will present the rule to the Commission before its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, September 8.