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      RS 30:4     

  

§4. Jurisdiction, duties, and powers of the assistant secretary; rules and regulations

            A. The commissioner has jurisdiction and authority over all persons and property necessary to enforce effectively the provisions of this Chapter and all other laws relating to the conservation of oil or gas.

            B. The commissioner shall make such inquiries as he thinks proper to determine whether or not waste, over which he has jurisdiction, exists or is imminent. In the exercise of this power the commissioner has the authority to collect data; to make investigations and inspections; to examine properties, leases, papers, books, and records; to examine, survey, check, test, and gauge oil and gas wells, tanks, refineries, and modes of transportation; to hold hearings; to provide for the keeping of records and the making of reports; to require the submission of an emergency phone number by which the operator may be contacted in case of an emergency; and to take any action as reasonably appears to him to be necessary to enforce this Chapter.

            C. The commissioner has authority to make, after notice and hearings as provided in this Chapter, any reasonable rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary from time to time in the proper administration and enforcement of this Chapter, including rules, regulations, or orders for the following purposes:

            (1)(a)(i) To require the drilling, casing, and plugging of wells to be done in such a manner as to prevent the escape of oil or gas out of one stratum to another.

            (ii) To prevent the intrusion of water into oil or gas strata.

            (iii) To prevent the pollution of fresh water supplies by oil, gas, or salt water.

            (iv) To require the plugging of each dry and abandoned well and the closure of associated pits, the removal of equipment, structures, and trash; and to otherwise require a general site cleanup of such dry and abandoned wells.

            (v) To allow for transferrable plugging credits in lieu of the bond with security required by Subsection R of this Section in order to promote the plugging of orphaned oilfield sites and oilfield sites that have been inactive for at least five years. A plugging credit shall be issued for the plugging of orphaned oilfield sites and oilfield sites that have been inactive for at least five years, with the specific requirements and procedures for issuance, transfer, and acceptance of such credits to be developed by the commissioner. The regulations shall, at a minimum, provide criteria under which plugging credits may be earned, and require approval by the commissioner for the earning, using, banking, or selling of the plugging credits.

            (b) Only an owner as defined in R.S. 30:3(8) shall be held or deemed responsible for the performance of any actions required by the commissioner.

            (2) To require the making of reports showing the location of all oil and gas wells, and the filing of logs, electrical surveys, and other drilling records.

            (3) To prevent wells from being drilled, operated, and produced in a manner to cause injury to neighboring leases or property.

            (4) To prevent the drowning by water of any stratum or part thereof capable of producing oil or gas in paying quantities, and to prevent the premature and irregular encroachment of water which reduces, or tends to reduce, the total ultimate recovery of oil or gas from any pool.

            (5) To require the operation of wells with efficient gas-oil ratios, and fix these ratios.

            (6) To prevent blow outs, caving and seepage in the sense that conditions indicated by these terms are generally understood in the oil and gas business.

            (7) To prevent fires.

            (8) To identify the ownership of all oil or gas wells, producing leases, refineries, tanks, plants, structures, and all storage and transportation equipment and facilities.

            (9) To regulate the shooting and chemical treatment of wells.

            (10) To regulate secondary recovery methods, including the introduction of gas, air, water, or other substance into producing formations.

            (11) To limit and prorate the production of oil or gas or both from any pool or field for the prevention of waste.

            (12) To require, either generally or in or from particular areas, certificates of clearance or tenders in connection with the transportation of oil, gas, or any product.

            (13) To regulate the spacing of wells and to establish drilling units, including temporary or tentative spacing rules and drilling units in new fields.

            (14) To require interested persons to place uniform meters of a type approved by the commissioner wherever the commissioner designates on all pipelines, gathering systems, barge terminals, loading racks, refineries, or other places necessary or proper to prevent waste and the transportation of illegally produced oil or gas. These meters shall be under the supervision and control of the department of conservation. It shall be a violation of this Chapter, subject to the penalties provided in R.S. 30:18, for any person to refuse to attach or install a meter when ordered to do so by the commissioner, or in any way to tamper with the meters so as to produce a false or inaccurate reading, or to have any device through which the oil or gas can be passed around the meter, unless expressly authorized by written permit of the commissioner.

            (15) To require that the product of all wells shall be separated into so many million cubic feet of gaseous hydrocarbons and barrels of liquid hydrocarbons, either or both, and accurately measured wherever separation takes place. Gaseous hydrocarbon measurement shall be corrected to ten ounces above atmospheric pressure. Liquid hydrocarbons shall be measured into barrels of forty-two gallons each. Both measurements shall be corrected to sixty degrees fahrenheit.

            (16)(a) To regulate by rules, the drilling, casing, cementing, disposal interval, monitoring, plugging and permitting of disposal wells which are used to inject waste products in the subsurface and to regulate all surface and storage waste facilities incidental to oil and gas exploration and production, in such a manner as to prevent the escape of such waste product into a fresh groundwater aquifer or into oil or gas strata; may require the plugging of each abandoned well or each well which is of no further use and the closure of associated pits, the removal of equipment, structures, and trash, and other general site cleanup of such abandoned or unused well sites; and may require reasonable bond with security for the performance of the duty to plug each abandoned well or each well which is of no further use and to perform the site cleanup required by this Subparagraph. Only an owner as defined in R.S. 30:3(8) shall be held or deemed responsible for the performance of any actions required by the commissioner.

            (b) Provided that before a permit to operate a new commercial operations' waste disposal well may be granted, a public hearing shall be held on the application for a permit, and shall fix the date, time, and place therefor. The operator or owner, prior to such public hearing, shall give public notice on three separate days within a period of thirty days prior to the public hearing, with at least five days between each publication of the notice, both in the official state journal and in the official journal of the parish in which the well is to be located, that application for a permit for a new commercial operations' waste disposal well has been made and that a public hearing on the matter will be held on the date and at the time and place which shall be stated in the public notice. The assistant secretary shall prescribe the form of the advertisement. In addition, the applicant for a permit shall place an advertisement in the same newspapers but not in the classified advertisement or public notice section of the newspapers, in a form which shall be not less than one-half page in size and printed in bold face type; which shall inform the public that application for a permit has been made for a new commercial operations' waste disposal well and that a public hearing, at which all interested persons are charged to be present and to present their views and which shall state the date, time, and place at which the meeting will be held. The content of both the public notice and the one-half page announcement or advertisement also shall include the name of the owner or operator; location of the proposed well, materials to be disposed in the well, a statement that comments may be sent to the assistant commissioner of the Office of Conservation prior to the public meeting, and the mailing address of the assistant secretary.

            "Commercial operations" as defined in this Section pertains to those who dispose of waste materials off the site where produced by others. "Waste materials" is defined as any material, excluding drilling muds, produced waters and crude oil residues, for which no use or reuse is intended and which is to be discarded.

            (c) However, no rule, regulation, or order authorized by this Paragraph shall regulate the hours of operation or receiving of offsite treatment, storage, and disposal facilities for waste material as defined in Subparagraph (b) of this Paragraph.

            (17)(a) To regulate the construction design and operation of pipelines transmitting carbon dioxide to serve secondary and tertiary recovery projects for increasing the ultimate recovery of oil or gas, including the issuance of certificates of public convenience and necessity for pipelines serving such projects approved hereunder.

            (b) No person shall exercise the right of expropriation under the laws of this state in connection with the construction or operation of such a carbon dioxide pipeline until the enhanced recovery project has been approved by the commissioner and a certificate of public convenience and necessity for the pipeline has been issued. If the enhanced recovery project is located in another state or jurisdiction, the commissioner's approval shall consist of confirmation that the applicable regulatory authority of that state or jurisdiction has approved or authorized the injection of carbon dioxide in association with such project.

            D. The assistant secretary shall make, after notice and public hearing as provided in this Chapter, any reasonable rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary:

            (1) To require that all pipelines, excluding field transmission, flow, and gathering lines; all wells; and associated structures, including any fittings, tie-overs, appliances, and equipment, which are constructed on state water bottoms pursuant to the grant of a right-of-way by the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources or the issuance of a lease by the State Mineral and Energy Board shall conform to the following provisions:

            (a) The owner or operator of a pipeline constructed on a right-of-way granted on state water bottoms shall be responsible for burying the line to a depth consistent with regulations promulgated by the office of conservation and for maintaining it at said depth to the extent feasible and practical, as determined by the assistant secretary, taking into account the changes wrought by natural forces.

            (b) Upon abandonment of a pipeline, well, or associated structure, the owner or operator thereof shall be responsible for removing any related object above the mudline which may unduly interfere with other uses of state waters or water bottoms, including navigation or fishing, or shall adequately mark it for the duration of the obstruction according to regulations of the United States Coast Guard and regulations promulgated by the assistant secretary. If necessary for environmental reasons or to prevent undue interference with other uses of state waters or water bottoms, the owner of an abandoned buried pipeline, well, or associated structure; an abandoned pipeline, well, or associated structure; or portions thereof shall cause removal of that which constitutes an obstruction or hazard to navigation or fishing, as determined necessary by the assistant secretary after a public hearing.

            (c) If an inspection by the office of conservation discloses an exposed pipeline, the owner thereof shall be required to rebury the line at its original depth, to the extent feasible and practical, to remove the pipeline, or to install and maintain for the duration of the line adequate marking in accordance with rules and regulations of the United States Coast Guard, United States Corps of Engineers, and the office of conservation. The appropriate course for such remedial action shall be made by the commissioner after a public hearing taking into account environmental issues and other issues.

            (d) If determined by the governor and the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to be in the best interests of the state, the owner or operator of a pipeline, well, or associated structure shall not be required to have it removed but shall be required to adequately mark it for the duration of the obstruction according to regulations of the Coast Guard and of the assistant secretary.

            (e) At regular intervals subsequent to the abandonment of any pipeline, well, or associated structure constructed on a right-of-way or lease established on state waterbottoms, the owner or operator of such facility shall cause and be responsible for inspection of that property if the assistant secretary requires it to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations of state and federal agencies. The assistant secretary shall require an inspection if he determines that the public interest requires that an inspection is necessary.

            (f) A person shall not construct any pipeline, well, or associated structure on a right-of-way or lease established on state waterbottoms unless he has obtained a permit from the assistant secretary prior to the initiation of construction.

            (g) An owner or operator of any pipeline, well, or associated structure constructed on state water bottoms pursuant to a right-of-way or lease shall report to the assistant secretary any activities, incidents, developments, or accidents creating an obstruction to navigation or fishing, and any permanent abandonments.

            (2) To require that all field transmissions, flow, and gathering lines constructed on state water bottoms pursuant to the grant of a right-of-way by the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources or the issuance of a lease by the State Mineral and Energy Board shall meet all requirements of the United States Army Corps of Engineers for burial and shall be located, installed, marked, and maintained in a proper manner, to be approved by the assistant secretary, so as to minimize undue interference with persons making other uses of state waters or water bottoms, including mariners and fishermen.

            (3) To require that all equipment, machinery, and materials associated with the construction, operation, maintenance, or abandonment of all pipelines, including field transmission, flow, and gathering lines; all wells; and all associated structures, which are constructed on state water bottoms pursuant to the grant of a right-of-way by the secretary of Department of Natural Resources or the issuance of a lease by the State Mineral and Energy Board shall conform to the following provisions:

            (a)(i) The owner or operator of a pipeline, well, or associated structure constructed on a right-of-way or lease upon state waterbottoms shall cause and be responsible for inspection of that property if the assistant secretary requires it to determine whether any equipment, machinery, or material associated with activity on the lease or right-of-way, including sunken boats and barges, has been discarded or abandoned above the mudline. The assistant secretary shall require an inspection if he determines that the public interest requires that an inspection is necessary.

            (ii) If the inspection reveals any equipment, machinery, or material above the mudline, the owner shall be responsible for its removal to avoid its constituting an obstruction which may unduly interfere with other uses, including navigation or fishing. However, the assistant secretary may by rule grant such exceptions or variances from this requirement if the location of the equipment, machinery, or material would cause removal to be extraordinarily onerous or impractical. Moreover, removal shall not be required if the governor and the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources determine that in the best interests of the state removal shall not be required. However, the owner shall be required to mark it for the duration of the obstruction according to regulations of the Coast Guard and the assistant secretary.

            (b) The owner or operator of any pipeline, well, or associated structure shall promptly notify and report to the assistant secretary concerning any discarded or abandoned equipment, machinery, or materials, including sunken barges and boats, known to be remaining on state waterbottoms as a result of activities conducted pursuant to a state right-of-way or lease. He shall also report to the assistant secretary the removal of any such equipment, machinery, or materials.

            (4) The provisions of this Subsection shall be limited in their scope and application to those leases and rights-of-way existing on state waterbottoms within the area delineated by the coastal zone of Louisiana as described in R.S. 49:213.4.

            (5) To provide that the office of conservation shall conduct such inspections as the assistant secretary may deem necessary or appropriate in carrying out the provisions of this Subsection.

            E. The commissioner shall make, after notice and public hearing as provided in this Chapter, any reasonable rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary to require that all other pipelines not covered by Subsection D of this Section, together with any fittings, tie-overs, appliances, and equipment, which are constructed in this state shall be buried, maintained, or removed from the right-of-way or lease according to the following provisions:

            (1) Pipelines in active use and those not in active use but whose owner anticipates reuse shall be buried to a depth consistent with regulations promulgated by the office of conservation and shall be maintained during the course of the useful and active life of the lines at a depth determined by the commissioner to be substantially equivalent to the original depth of burial. The commissioner may by rule grant such exceptions or variances from this provision as may be necessary for pipelines buried under navigable streams or water bottoms as provided for in Subsection D of this Section.

            (2) When a pipeline is abandoned, the commissioner shall make a preliminary investigation to determine if the line, or any portion thereof, constitutes an obstruction which may unduly interfere with other uses of state waters or water bottoms, or if allowed to remain in its present state will constitute such an obstruction. If the initial determination of the commissioner is that corrective action or removal of the pipeline, or any portion thereof, is necessary to eliminate or prevent the obstruction and if the owner of the pipeline does not agree with the commissioner's determination and to abide by it, the commissioner shall call a public hearing for the purpose of determining finally what action, if any, he will require the owner of the pipeline to take.

            (3) Field transmission, flow and gathering lines shall be installed, located, marked, maintained, and removed after abandonment in a proper manner, to be approved by the commissioner, so as to minimize undue interference with persons, including mariners and fishermen, making other uses of state waters or water bottoms.

            F. For the purposes of Subsection E, the word "pipeline" shall mean all intrastate pipelines used in the transportation of oil and gas, including by-products and waste therefrom, but shall not include field transmission, flow, and gathering lines, except as provided in Subsection (E)(3). The commissioner shall require each pipeline operator to employ in his periodic inspection of the line, which shall be not less than once each year, a procedure to determine the depth of cover over the line and to report such information to the commissioner; however, the commissioner may by rule grant such exceptions or variances from this requirement as may be necessary for pipelines buried or installed in locations where such a requirement would be extraordinarily onerous or impractical. The commissioner shall further require the owners of all pipelines in the state to notify the office of conservation of the abandonment of said pipeline or non-use of said pipeline for a period of six months or more.

            G. The office of conservation of the Department of Natural Resources through the commissioner, shall implement the provisions of Subsections D, E, and F of this Section as to interstate pipelines insofar as those requirements may be consistent with the regulations for interstate pipelines adopted by the United States Department of Transportation. In such event, the office shall further implement the provisions of Subsections D, E, and F of this Section insofar as those requirements may be consistent with the regulations for interstate pipelines adopted by the United States Department of Energy.

            H. Any pipeline owner required to construct a levee, dam, or weir in connection with a pipeline, shall maintain that levee, dam, or weir in a condition as near as practicable to its original condition, however, the commissioner may grant such exceptions or variances from this requirement if he determines that maintenance of the dam, levee, or weir no longer serves the purposes intended and will not serve to protect the environment of the area. The commissioner may require the owner to inspect the levee, dam, or weir on a periodic basis and to file reports of such inspections. The commissioner may order the removal or alteration of any such dam, levee, or weir when he determines that such action is necessary to avoid undue interference with persons making other uses of state waters or water bottoms.

            I. The commissioner shall make, after notice and public hearing as provided in this Chapter, any reasonable rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary to control the offsite disposal at commercial facilities of drilling mud, saltwater and other related nonhazardous wastes generated by the drilling and production of oil and gas wells. Such regulations shall contain provisions identifying the waste materials to be regulated. Such regulations shall at a minimum require:

            (1) Every person who intends to open and operate a new offsite commercial facility for the disposal of nonhazardous wastes produced in oil and gas drilling operations, shall file an application, with the office of conservation for a permit to conduct such operation.

            (2) At least thirty days prior to filing such application with the office, the applicant shall publish a notice of intent to file the application, which notice shall contain sufficient information to identify the applicant, the proposed site at which disposal operations will occur, the nature and content of the waste streams to be disposed of, and the method of disposal to be used. Such notice shall be published on three separate days in the official journal of the parish in which the proposed facility will be located, and in the official journal of the state, not less than one quarter of a page in size and printed in boldface type.

            (3) Upon notice to the applicant by the office of conservation that the application is complete, the applicant shall file with the local governing authority of the parish in which the proposed facility is to be located, six copies of the complete application.

            (4) Upon acceptance of the application as complete, the office of conservation shall publish in the next available issue of the Louisiana Register, a notice of the filing and the location, date, and time of a public hearing to be held in the affected parish, which hearing shall not be less than thirty days from the date of notice in the Register. The applicant shall publish a substantially similar notice in the official journal of the parish affected on three separate days at least fifteen days prior to the date set by the office of conservation for such public hearing. Such notice shall be not less than one quarter page in size in boldface type.

            (5) The public hearing shall be fact-finding in nature and shall not be subject to the procedural requirements of the Louisiana Administrative Procedure Act relative to rule making or adjudication, provided that the office of conservation shall allow any interested person to present testimony, facts or evidence related to the application, and shall make a record of the hearing.

            (6) Standards applicable to generators of such waste materials.

            (7) Criteria for the location, design and operation of commercial offsite disposal facilities.

            (8) A manifest system for all wastes transported from site of generation to a commercial offsite disposal facility.

            (9) The closure of all commercial offsite disposal facilities in a manner approved by the commissioner to insure protection of the public and the environment.

            (10) Bonding to insure the adequate closure of any commercial offsite disposal facility.

            (11) Evidence of financial responsibility acceptable to the commissioner for any liability for damages which may be caused by the escape or discharge of waste materials from a commercial offsite disposal facility.

            (12) All existing commercial offsite disposal facilities to comply with the criteria in such regulations within a specified time.

            J. Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, the department shall require all abandoned well and platform locations on state water bottoms in the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent bays and inlets to be cleared of all related obstructions by the owner of such facilities and that such clearance be verified at the cost of such owner. The clearance and verification requirements and procedures shall be substantially the same, where applicable, as those required by the United States Department of the Interior Minerals Management Service for abandoned oil and gas structures in the Gulf of Mexico. Such clearance and verification requirements shall take into account the different characteristics of the water bodies from which the obstructions are to be removed. The department shall adopt rules to implement this Subsection no later than January 1, 1992. The provisions of this Subsection and the rules adopted pursuant thereto shall supersede any conflicting provision of law, particularly Subsections D, E, F, G, and H of this Section.

            K. The commissioner shall not authorize or issue any permit which allows the use or withdrawal of three million gallons or more of ground water per day from the Chicot aquifer that shall be injected into the subsurface in a parish whose population is more than seventy thousand and less than seventy-five thousand.

            L.(1) The commissioner shall make, after notice and hearings as provided in this Chapter, any reasonable rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary to require the operator of a well, which utilizes the application of fluids with force or pressure in order to create artificial fractures in the formation for the purpose of improving the capacity to produce hydrocarbons, to report no later than twenty days following the completion of hydraulic fracturing stimulation operations and in a manner determined by the commissioner the following:

            (a) The type and volume of the hydraulic fracturing fluid.

            (b) A list of additives used, including the specific trade name and the supplier of the additive.

            (c) A list of ingredients contained in the hydraulic fracturing fluid, the associated CAS registry number, and the maximum concentration of each ingredient in percent by mass that is subject to the requirements of 29 CFR 1910.1200(g)(2). Such rules, regulations, and orders shall provide for an ingredient that is subject to trade secret protection under the criteria set forth in 42 U.S.C. 11042(a)(2), and require the operator to provide the contact information of the entity claiming trade secret protection for a listed product and to report, at a minimum, in such cases the chemical family associated with such ingredient. An operator will not be responsible for reporting information that is not provided to the operator due to a claim of trade secret information.

            (2) Nothing in this Subsection shall authorize any person to withhold information which is required to be disclosed by state or federal law.

            (3) Any information provided pursuant to the provisions of this Subsection shall be subject to examination and reproduction as provided by the Public Records Law, R.S. 44:1 et seq., or any other applicable law.

            (4) The provisions of this Subsection shall not apply to operations conducted solely for the purposes of sand control or reduction of near wellbore damage.

            M. The commissioner shall make, after notice and hearing as provided in this Chapter, any reasonable rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary to control the drilling, operating, and plugging of solution mining injection wells, the permitting of such wells, and the resulting solution mined cavern. Such rules and regulations shall be adopted pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act and shall provide for, but not be limited to the following:

            (1) Submission of site assessments and updated site assessments to include a geological, geomechanical, and engineering assessment of stability of salt stock and overlying and surrounding sediment based on past, current, and planned well and cavern operations.

            (2) Submission of the locations of caverns and proposed caverns in relation to other caverns, including solution caverns, disposal caverns, and storage caverns, and the periphery of the salt stock provided on maps and cross-section depictions based upon best available information and updated at least every five years.

            (3) Notification by the operator to the office of conservation of a solution mining injection well inactivity or conclusion of mining operations.

            (4) Setback distance locations for new caverns in relation to the periphery of salt stock.

            (5) Enhanced monitoring plan implementation for any existing caverns within the mandatory setback distance locations.

            (6) Permit requirements that include the following:

            (a) Assistance to residents of areas deemed to be at immediate potential risk in the event of a sinkhole developing or other incident that requires an evacuation.

            (b) Reimbursement to the state or any political subdivision of the state for reasonable and extraordinary costs incurred in responding to or mitigating a disaster or emergency due to a violation of this Subsection or any rule, regulation, or order promulgated or issued pursuant to this Subsection. Such costs shall be subject to approval by the director of the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness prior to being submitted to the permitee for reimbursement. Such payments shall not be construed as an admission of responsibility or liability for the emergency or disaster. The Department of Natural Resources, office of conservation, is hereby authorized to adopt rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act to collect reimbursement under this Section.

            (c) Reimbursement to any person who owns noncommercial residential immovable property located within an area under a mandatory or forced evacuation pursuant to R.S. 29:721 et seq. for a period of more than one hundred eighty days, without interruption due to a violation of this Subsection, or any rule, regulation, or order promulgated or issued pursuant to this Subsection. The offer for reimbursement shall be for the replacement value of the property based on an appraisal by a qualified professional. The replacement value of the property shall be calculated based on the estimated value of the property prior to the time of the incident resulting in the declaration of the disaster or emergency. The reimbursement shall be made to the property owner within thirty days after notice by the property owner to the permittee indicating acceptance of the offer and showing proof of continuous ownership prior to and during an evacuation lasting more than one hundred eighty days, provided that the offer for reimbursement is accepted within thirty days of receipt, and transfers the immovable property free and clear of any liens, mortgages, or other encumbrances to the permittee.

            (7) Criteria considered when deciding whether to approve the implementation of the closure plan for a solution mining injection well.

            (8) Submission and maintenance of an updated post-closure plan to include subsidence monitoring, corrective action, and site remediation, as may be necessary following plugging and closure.

            (9) Evidence of financial security to be maintained for closure and post-closure costs.

            (10) Department protocols to ensure that production and well information from all oil and gas activity within the vicinity of a salt dome shall be considered during the permitting process for any solution mine permit.

            N.(1) The Cross-Unit Well Study Commission is hereby created within the Department of Natural Resources, office of conservation. The commission shall study the legal implications of the prescription of nonuse in relation to the drilling of any well located closer than three hundred thirty feet from the property boundary of a drilling unit or lease.

            (2) According to Statewide Order No. 29-E, LAC 43:XIX.1901 through 1909, wells drilled in search of oil to depths below three thousand feet subsea shall not be located closer than three hundred thirty feet from any property line nor closer than nine hundred feet from any other well completed in, drilling to, or for which a permit shall have been granted to drill to, the same pool. In addition, Statewide Order No. 29-E provides wells drilled in search of gas shall not be located closer than three hundred thirty feet to the property line nor closer than two thousand feet to any other well completed in, drilling to, or for which a permit shall have been granted to drill to, the same pool.

            (3) The Legislature of Louisiana has become aware of the practice of granting exceptions to the above rules and allowing oil and gas operators to drill within the three hundred thirty feet property line and into the adjacent property. R.S. 31:16 provides that mineral rights are real rights and subject to either a prescription of nonuse for ten years or to special rules of law governing the term of their existence. One practical implication of allowing an exception to the three hundred thirty foot boundary rule is that the drilling of cross-unit wells could prevent the prescription of nonuse from running on the adjacent property. Officials of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association and the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association recognize that this practice impacts the rights of adjoining landowners in regards to the prescription of nonuse.

            (4) The Cross-Unit Well Study Commission shall consist of members comprised as follows:

            (a) The commissioner of conservation, who shall serve as the chairman.

            (b) The director of the Louisiana Mineral Law Institute.

            (c) Three persons appointed by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association. Two of the three persons shall be attorneys who are licensed to practice law in Louisiana.

            (d) Three persons appointed by the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association. Two of the three persons shall be attorneys who are licensed to practice law in Louisiana.

            (e) Two persons appointed by the director of the Louisiana Mineral Law Institute. Each person shall be an attorney who is licensed to practice law in Louisiana and has at least fifteen years of legal experience in the oil and gas industry.

            (f) One person appointed by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Association of Royalty Owners.

            (5) The chairman shall hold the first public meeting of the commission on or before September 1, 2014, at the headquarters of the Department of Natural Resources, office of conservation. After the first meeting, the commission shall hold monthly public meetings at the headquarters of the Department of Natural Resources, office of conservation.

            (6) The chairman shall report the commission's findings and recommendations to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the House Committee on Natural Resources and Environment not later than March 16, 2015.

            (7) The members shall serve without compensation except per diem or expense reimbursement to which they may be individually entitled as members of their respective organizations.

            (8) The commission shall be subject to the open meetings and public records laws.

            (9) The provisions of this Subsection shall be void on August 1, 2015, and thereafter.

            O.(1) No permit to drill or operate a new solution-mined cavern, or expand or convert an existing solution-mined cavern in Iberia Parish may be issued until after a public hearing is held no earlier than August 15, 2015, on the application for the permit. The commissioner shall promulgate rules and regulations to provide for such public hearings and shall fix the date, time, and place therefor. The operator or owner, prior to such a public hearing, shall give public notice on three separate days within a period of thirty days prior to the public hearing, with at least five days between each publication notice, both in the official state journal and in the official journal of the parish in which the well is to be located.

            (2) At least thirty days prior to such public hearing on a permit to expand or convert an existing solution-mined cavern or to drill and operate a new solution-mined cavern in Iberia Parish, the permit applicant shall submit a report to the commissioner of conservation, to Save Lake Peigneur, Inc., and to the governing authority of Iberia Parish. The report shall provide a baseline analysis of groundwater levels and salt content in the nearby groundwater wells that can be accessed for such analysis; a plan to monitor groundwater levels and salt water content for the duration of the activity for the creation of cavern storage should a permit be granted; a geologic analysis by a qualified third party geologist that examines the integrity of the salt dome; and the results of an analysis of testing that attempts to determine the source and composition of intermittent foaming or bubbling appearing in Lake Peigneur.

            (3) No permit to expand or convert an existing solution-mined cavern or to drill and operate a new solution-mined cavern in Iberia Parish shall be issued prior to January 31, 2016.

            (4) The provisions of this Subsection shall not apply to any activity or operation related to safety, maintenance, inspection, testing or regulatory compliance, when necessary, or when required by regulators.

            P. The commissioner of conservation has the authority to promulgate rules and regulations under the Administrative Procedure Act to regulate the location, construction, operation, and maintenance of a liquefied natural gas facility within the state.

            Q. The commissioner is authorized to develop and implement a program to expedite the processing or review of permits, modifications, licenses, registrations, plans, proposals, exceptions, or variances and related correspondence for applicants who may request such services. In addition to any applicable fees charged pursuant to this Subtitle, a fee for an expedited review shall be charged to each applicant equal to the cost of every overtime hour, or portion thereof, an employee or contractor works processing the expedited review and an amount not exceeding twenty percent for administrative costs. However, the administrative fee shall not be less than five hundred dollars. The overtime rate shall not exceed the maximum per hour overtime salary, calculated at one and one-half times the hourly wage and including associated related benefits, of a civil service employee of the office of conservation. The commissioner shall adopt rules and regulations in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act to implement the provisions of this Subsection. The rules shall require the applicant to provide public notice when an expedited review is granted.

            R. The commissioner shall make, after notice and public hearings as provided in this Chapter, any rules, regulations, and orders that are necessary to require reasonable bond with security for the performance of the duty to plug each dry and abandoned well and the closure and to perform the site cleanup required by Item (C)(1)(a)(iv) of this Section. The rules, regulations, and orders may classify based on location of the well and shall provide for the following exceptions from the reasonable bond and security requirement:

            (1) Wells exempt prior to September 1, 2015, that remain with the operator of record as of that date.

            (2) Wells utilizing plugging credits pursuant to Item (C)(1)(a)(v) of this Section.

            (3) Wells exempt pursuant to R.S. 30:4.3(C).

            S. To enforce the provisions of Part VIII of Chapter 8 of Title 40, R.S. 40:1749.11 et seq., the Louisiana Underground Utilities and Facilities Damage Prevention Law, as it pertains to the prevention of damage to pipelines.

            T. In addition to the requirements set forth in Subsection R of this Section, an organization seeking to enter into a cooperative endeavor agreement with the assistant secretary to assist with plugging orphaned wells, in order to alleviate the burden on operators in meeting financial security requirements, shall include in the cooperative endeavor agreement a provision that allows full access to their operations and financial records for the purpose of any audit conducted by the legislative auditor.

            Acts 1976, No. 122, §3; Acts 1979, No. 378, §1; Acts 1979, No. 461, §1; Acts 1979, No. 674, §1; Acts 1980, No. 804, §1; Acts 1981, No. 760, §2; Acts 1983, No. 664, §1, eff. July 21, 1983; Acts 1985, No. 242, §1, eff. July 6, 1985; Acts 1990, No. 192, §1; Acts 1991, No. 957, §1; Acts 1999, No. 618, §1; Acts 2007, No. 428, §2, eff. July 11, 2007; Acts 2008, No. 241, §1; Acts 2009, No. 196, §2, eff. July 1, 2009; Acts 2012, No. 812, §1; Acts 2013, No. 220, §11, eff. June 11, 2013; Acts 2013, No. 368, §1; Acts 2014, No. 394, §1; Acts 2014, No. 691, §1; Acts 2014, No. 766, §1; Acts 2015, No. 332, §1; Acts 2015, No. 362, §1; Acts 2016, No. 526, §1, eff. June 13, 2016; Acts 2017, No. 218, §1, eff. June 14, 2017; Acts 2018, No. 106, §1; Acts 2018, No. 191, §1, eff. May 15, 2018; Acts 2020, No. 242, §1.



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