The engineering section provides technical assistance and oversight to the division’s many program areas to ensure design, construction, and production operations are performed in a manner protective of public health, safety, and the environment. The engineering section reviews applications for permits to construct horizontal well sites and oilfield waste storage, treatment, processing, and recycling facilities and advises the field enforcement, underground injection control, orphan well and emergency response programs regarding slope stability, design review, construction administration, and other issues requiring civil engineering expertise.
Horizontal Well Pad Construction
The permit to construct a horizontal well pad promotes safety and protects the public and the environment by enforcing design standards and construction requirements for horizontal well sites, including drilling pads and access roads that are necessary to support safe operation of the large drilling rigs and associated equipment. Chapter 1501:9-2 of the Ohio Administrative Code, effective July 16, 2015, defines the design standards and the application submittal and review/approval processes for a permit to construct. Additional engineering staff, including natural resources engineers and technicians, were hired to review design submittals and oversee construction for compliance with the approved permit for horizontal well pad sites. Since the effective date of the rule, the following have been realized:
- A significant reduction in horizontal well site performance issues, to include slope failures, ineffective erosion controls, differential settlements affecting rig stability, negative impacts to wetlands and surface waters, routine and emergency access to the well site;
- Improved identification of and protection from site location features that impacts the safe construction and operation of well pads, such as surface and underground mines, flood plains, public and private drinking water sources;
- More than 250 permits for construction of horizontal well pads have been issued;
- More than 300 significant construction modifications were designed and approved by the Division’s engineering staff from July 16, 2015 to March 31, 2018.
Oil and Gas Waste Facility Program
Effective January 1, 2014, no person shall store, recycle, treat, process, brine or other oilfield waste without an authorization from the Chief of the Division, pursuant to Section 1509.22 of the Revised Code, established by H.B. 59 (effective September 9, 2013). The authorization by the Chief is in the form a Chief’s Order until rules are promulgated governing oil and gas waste facility construction and operations. The overarching objective of this program is to ensure brine and other oil and gas wastes substances are stored, managed, and disposed of in a manner that is protective of the public and the environment.
Stemming from H.B. 59, the oil and gas waste facility program has the following objectives:
- Develop administrative rules defining the standards and processes for obtaining an authorization from the Chief to store and manage brine and other oilfield wastes;
- Review applications for a temporary authorization to construct and operate an oil and gas waste facility in the time period before a rule becomes effective;
- Ensure construction of the oil and gas waste facility is compliant with the approved design;
- Through routine inspections, ensure operation and maintenance of the oil and gas waste facility is protective of the public and the environment and is in accordance with the authorization.
- Ensure the reclamation of the oil and gas waste facility is protective of the public and the environment, in accordance with the authorization.
Engineering staff were hired to perform the functions above. Since January 1, 2014, the Chief has issued more than 60 temporary authorizations, based on the recommendation of the engineering staff.