Reclamation Process and Criteria for Oil and Gas Sites

Reclamation Goals

Environment Friendly Fracking Company Re-Plants Trees & Returns Land To Nature - RECLAMATION

Site oil and gas reclamation plan

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In the semiarid lands of the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States, precipitation rates, soil organic matter, and biomass are low, making successful reclamation of disturbed lands challenging. Reclamation specialists have been working under the guidance of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act to restore lands disturbed from mining activities since the s.

In contrast, the reclamation of oil and gas lands is not regulated through a uniform federal act, and the resulting regulatory structure is complex and can be confusing. Additionally, the total surface disturbance from oil and gas development has the potential to exceed the area of land disturbed from mining activities.

These factors, along with questions of invasive species and drought, deepen the challenge of achieving reclamation success. The following page is intended to provide a general overview of the goals of reclamation, the reclamation process, and resource documents and contact information for regulatory authorities and site oil and gas reclamation plan organizations involved in reclamation efforts in the Rocky Mountain West. To understand how reclamation standards vary by state, see the reclamation comparison table.

The primary goal of reclamation on oil and gas lands is to restore site stability and ecosystem functions, returning disturbed lands to their original use or use prior to disturbance, such as crop production or wildlife habitat.

The benchmark for successful reclamation typically is the establishment of a native plant community that is self-sustaining and meets standards for density and forage production, and the re-contouring of all disturbed surface areas to match or blend with the original landform. Because of this restriction, interim reclamation is conducted during the construction, drilling, and well production phases of oil and gas development to ensure that surface disturbance is within the limits established in the drilling permit.

During interim reclamation, land on a well site that is not being used for production but has been disturbed should be undergoing the reclamation process through recontouring, topsoil replacement, and revegetation. Final reclamation is also required after a well is depleted or if it proves to be dry. The well must be plugged, and the well site and other areas disturbed by road or pipeline construction must be reclaimed and plant communities must be restored.

The timeline for reclamation after a well is plugged varies by state, site oil and gas reclamation plan.

Operators on federal lands must include a reclamation plan in their surface use plan of operation to be approved by the Bureau of Land Management BLM or by the U. Throughout the reclamation process, the operator holds responsibility for monitoring reclamation progress and ensuring its success. Preserving and salvaging sufficient topsoil is an integral part site oil and gas reclamation plan reclamation and is necessary for reclamation success. Until topsoil is used during interim or final reclamation, the Gold Book stipulates that it should be kept separate from subsurface materials and erosion controls should be implemented to protect the topsoil stockpile from wind and water erosion as well as impacts of heavy machinery.

Recontouring is required during both interim and final reclamation. All disturbed surface areas, including the well pad, road areas, and pipeline flows, must be re-worked to sit at the original contour or blend with the original landform.

Adequate erosion control will provide for site stability and generally comes with successful revegetation. International Erosion Control Association. The establishment of a self-sustaining plant community is vital in marking reclamation success.

Standards for revegetation on oil and gas lands vary by state but typically include a specified level of cover, density, vigor, resiliency, diversity; control of highly competitive non-native species; and freedom from noxious weeds. There are many approved methods for re-seeding and culturing, including drilling, broadcast seeding, hydroseeding, dozer track walking, site oil and gas reclamation plan, mulching, irrigating, site oil and gas reclamation plan, site oil and gas reclamation plan fertilizing.

If seed fails due to drought or other extreme conditions, site oil and gas reclamation plan, the surface management agency may grant the operator a delayed timeline for re-seeding until the adverse conditions have passed.

They may also require additional culturing such site oil and gas reclamation plan mulching or irrigating. Soil type, market availability, wildlife needs, and agency or landowner requirements should all be considered when choosing a seed mix for a site. While the surface management agency or a private landowner may approve select non-native species for reseeding, mixes composed primarily of species indigenous to the area being seeded typically are preferred or required.

In some cases, the appropriate agency field office will prescribe an already determined seed mix. Standards for successful reclamation include limits on noxious weeds and practices for successful weed control.

For more information about non-native and invasive species, please visit our Rare and Native Plant Resources page. Colorado Noxious Weed Act. New Mexico Noxious Weed Information. Utah Noxious Weed Act. Wyoming Weed and Pest Law. Reserve pits are a holding area for the dumping and dilution of drilling fluids, drilling cuttings, and operation fluids produced by exploration and production in the natural gas industry.

Generally, pit materials must be dried or solidified prior to backfilling. Although oil and gas wastes are exempt from hazardous materials regulation by RCRA, some nonexempt materials do exist and must not exceed standards set forth in CERCLA prior to backfilling and reclamation.

For more information on reserve pits, please visit the Water Quality Resources page. Earthworks Alternative to Pits. In the Intermountain West the BLM and the USFS are the regulatory authorities for reclamation on federal lands, while oil and gas conservation commissions, boards, or divisions regulate reclamation on private and state lands.

In Wyoming, extensive oil and gas activities and regulatory overlaps led to the creation of a coordinating office -- the Jonah Interagency Mitigation and Reclamation Office JIO. Resource documents and agency contact information for these offices and other federal or state agencies that influence reclamation processes follows below. The Bureau of Land Management manages energy development, including leasing, permitting, inspection, and enforcement for million surface acres and million sub-surface acres of mineral estate in the United States.

The JIO developed criteria used to assess rollover which determine if an acreage can be subtracted from the total land area considered disturbed and final reclamation status. If the JIO determines that reclamation criteria are not being met successfully, and the BLM accepts that assessment, the BLM then is responsible for suggesting remedial actions to the operator in question.

Like the BLM, the USFS manages reclamation of disturbed lands, requiring a reclamation plan to be part of any surface operation plan that has the potential to disturb lands.

Chapter of the Forest Service Manual offers regulatory guidance for reclamation activities. State oil and gas conservation commissions, divisions, and boards are an important regulatory authority for reclamation activities on state and private lands, and, in some cases, on federal lands.

Utah Oil and Gas Program. State lands offices, boards, and commissions may set reclamation bonding requirements and oversee reclamation activities for oil and gas disturbances on state lands.

Colorado State Lands Board. Montana Trust Land Management Division. New Mexico State Land Office. Wyoming Office of State Lands and Investments. The Healthy Lands Initiative is a federal program focused on collaborative, landscape-level vegetation enhancement at energy-wildlife interfaces in critical sagebrush habitat in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Idaho, and Nevada.

Healthy Lands Initiative Fact Sheet. Colorado Landscape Conservation Initiative Factsheet. Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative. Participants in the program work to identify plants that will meet specific conservation needs in Site oil and gas reclamation plan and the West.

Species performance levels are tested, and those plants that are high-performing are released, along with cultivation techniques, to the private sector to be developed commercially. Administered jointly by the College of Agriculture and the School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming, scientists at the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center facilitate restoration programs for students, conduct research on disturbed lands, and also do outreach work.

Research Publications and Presentations. University of Colorado at Boulder. Oil and Gas Lands and Reclamation In the semiarid lands of the Rocky Mountain Region of the United States, precipitation rates, soil organic matter, and biomass are low, making successful reclamation of disturbed lands challenging. Reclamation Goals The primary goal site oil and gas reclamation plan reclamation on oil and gas lands is to restore site stability and ecosystem functions, returning disturbed lands to their original use or use prior to disturbance, such as crop production or wildlife habitat.

Contouring and Erosion Control Road Reclamation Good reclamation of roads starts with good design and construction. Resource Documents International Erosion Control Association Revegetation The establishment of a self-sustaining plant community is vital in marking reclamation success.

Seeding Methods There are many approved methods for re-seeding and culturing, including drilling, broadcast seeding, hydroseeding, dozer track walking, mulching, irrigating, and fertilizing.

Seed Mixes Soil type, market availability, wildlife needs, site oil and gas reclamation plan, and agency or landowner requirements should all be considered when choosing a seed mix for a site. Regulatory Bodies and Resource Documents In the Intermountain West the BLM and the USFS are the regulatory authorities for reclamation on federal antibacterial ointment, while oil and gas conservation commissions, boards, or divisions regulate reclamation on private and state lands.

Bureau of Land Management The Bureau of Land Management manages energy development, including leasing, permitting, inspection, and enforcement for million surface acres and million sub-surface acres of mineral estate in the United States. Forest Service Like the BLM, the USFS manages reclamation of disturbed lands, requiring a reclamation plan to be part of any surface operation plan that has the potential to disturb lands, site oil and gas reclamation plan.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming Resource Documents Reclamation Page Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center Administered jointly by the College of Agriculture and the School of Energy Resources at the University of Wyoming, scientists at the Wyoming Reclamation and Restoration Center facilitate restoration programs for students, conduct research on disturbed lands, and also do outreach work.

 

Site oil and gas reclamation plan

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