Industry mostly on board with new water testing rules

Aug 26, 2013

For the most part, industry is happy with the new draft rules for baseline water testing near oil and gas wells. The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission released its latest draft of them last week.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming Vice President John Robitaille says he continues to hear from association members that baseline testing is necessary.

“In all honesty, I think we probably should have been doing this several years ago,” he says.

But the association still has concerns about the costs of implementing some aspects of the proposed rule -- like the requirement that drillers do follow-up testing not once, but twice.

“There should be a trigger,” Robitaille says. “You know, perhaps after the first one shows no change, no significant change, then the second one is not required.”

Robitaille estimates the cost per round of testing at between eight- and 10-thousand dollars. The Oil and Gas Commission says it hasn’t done its own analysis of the potential costs.

Nevertheless, Robitaille was also pleased with some of the revisions. The Commission changed a standard that would have required additional testing of wells with methane concentrations above 1 milligram per liter. Robitaille says those levels pose minimal public health risks and would have been costly to test for.

“We brought some suggestions that that needs be a little bit higher and the Commission settled on 10 milligrams per liter now in the second draft,” he says.

The federal government doesn’t regulate methane in water wells, but the Department of the Interior says homeowners don’t need to do anything about concentrations below the revised limit.

The Commission is taking public comment on the proposed rules through October 7.