FEDERAL - JUDICIAL: Greater Sage-Grouse Plan – Western States. (Update to 8/12/19 Weekly Report) A federal judge has temporarily blocked the implementation of the Trump administration’s updated Greater Sage-Grouse plan. As reported in an earlier Weekly Report, on August 1, the BLM and U.S. Forest Service announced proposed changes to how the agency manages Greater Sage-Grouse in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, and Utah after hearing concerns from states and land users. These changes were expected to relax prior land management plans and allow for greater development. Specifically, the amended plan proposes to eliminate the strictest barriers put in place in 2015 by the Obama administration which blocked much new development in “focal areas.” However, on October 16, in Western Watersheds Project v. Schneider (Case No. 1:16-cv-00083-BLW), the U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho granted environmentalist-plaintiffs a preliminary injunction, temporarily halting implementation of the updated 2019 BLM Sage-Grouse Plan Amendments. The Court found that the BLM “failed to properly analyze the effects of its plan to facilitate more economic activity on more than 51 million acres of sage grouse habitat across seven western states.” The Court is ordering that energy development, mining and construction in Greater Sage-Grouse habitats be halted while the two sides argue the merits of the case. We will keep you updated with further developments as the case progresses. Read more.
STATE - REGULATORY: Spacing Regulations – Ohio. On October 10, revised regulations from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) governing spacing of horizontal oil and gas production wells went into effect. Under the prior version of Ohio Administrative Code @1501:9-1-04, which applied to both conventional and horizontal wells, “any oil and gas production well drilled into a pool located at least 4,000 feet in depth must be set back at least 500 feet from the boundary of the leased tract or drilling unit. That prior version of the rule also required a spacing of at least 1,000 feet between wells producing from the same pool.” The regulations were revised “to require only a 150 foot (+/- 10 percent) setback from the first and last ‘take points’ of a horizontal well and the boundary of the drilling unit or subject tract. This change is consistent with industry practice of seeking a setback variance at the heel and toe of horizontal wells in order to more fully develop a drilling unit. The revised regulations also reduce the required setback between the boundary of the drilling unit and the other take points in the well from 500 feet to 400 feet (+/- 10 percent). Finally, the revised regulations now provide no minimum spacing between horizontal wells within a ‘subject tract’ unless ‘adverse communication’ occurs between the wells and the subject tract. Again, these setback reductions should help achieve more complete production of resources within a drilling unit.” Read more.INDUSTRY NEWS: Crude oil production hits new record. According to new data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, domestic crude oil production has hit a record high of 12.6 million barrels-per-day (bpd), up 200,000 bpd from the previous record. Read more.