Effective January 1, 2000, fluid level testing requirements for inactive wells more than 25 years old have been revised. Eligible wells may be tested once every two years rather than annually. Statewide Rule 14, Plugging, has been revised to allow biennial testing of a well if it has shown two consecutive years of acceptable fluid-level tests. Reporting of fluid level tests is done on Form H-15, "Test on an Inactive Well More Than 25 Years Old."
This change is the result of the Railroad Commissions continuing review of regulatory policies and administrative procedures to eliminate unnecessary regulation and paperwork and to implement new efficiencies for both the Commission and the industries it regulates.
Under the revised rule, annual testing will remain the standard for all inactive wells more than 25 years old to determine whether the well poses a threat of harm to natural resources, including surface and subsurface water, oil and gas. However, if the well has undergone a fluid level test for two consecutive years and the fluid level is found in each such test to be at least 250 feet below the base of the deepest usable quality water strata, the operator may test the well biennially rather than annually. The two consecutive fluid level tests must be within the current period of inactivity; if the well is returned to production and subsequently returns to inactive status, it will be necessary to re-qualify for biennial testing.
The commission will retain the ability to require more frequent tests or extend the interval between tests for good cause upon written request if the extension will not result in increased threat of harm to natural resources.
The biennial fluid level testing interval will continue so long as each reported fluid level test shows the fluid level to be at least 250 feet below the base of usable quality water. If any test conducted on the biennial schedule indicates that the fluid level is less than 250 feet below the base of usable quality water, the operator will no longer have the option of biennial testing and the annual testing requirement will resume.
As before, performance of an acceptable hydraulic pressure test will exempt the well from further H-15 testing for five years.
For the year 2000, the H-15 testing cycle will be unchanged. As in years past, in January the commission will generate and mail out a list of wells to be tested. If commission records indicate that a well is eligible for biennial testing, it will not appear on the listing. All H-15 tests must be completed and reported to the Commission by June 1, 2000.
If you have any questions, please contact the Oil and Gas Divisions Permitting and Production/P-5 Section at 512-463-6772 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.