RAPID/Geothermal/Nevada/Exploration

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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Nevada Geothermal Exploration Permitting(4-NV)

In Nevada, non-invasive exploration does not require a permit. If the exploration activities involve drilling, developers may be required to obtain waivers from drilling requirements from the Nevada Division of Water Resources (NDWR). A waiver may be obtained for use of groundwater to explore for geothermal resources or for drilling monitoring wells. However, drilling of an exploratory well requires a Permit to Drill from the Nevada Division of Minerals, a geothermal project area permit, or a sundry notice.


Waiver Process

Developers generally must obtain a permit from NDWR if their project will require a temporary use of groundwater for exploration. However, developers of geothermal resources may request a waiver of drilling requirements to use water to explore for geothermal resources. Developers must submit a Request for Waiver for Temporary Use of Groundwater for Geothermal Exploration to the NDWR for review. NDWR will review application materials to ensure compliance with the provisions for installing and operating monitoring wells in NAC 534.

Developers generally must comply with drilling requirements when drilling for explorations purposes. However, developers of geothermal resources may request a waiver of drilling requirements to drill a monitoring well. Developers must submit a request for waiver of drilling requirements to NDWR for review. Developers must include an affidavit indicating who is responsible for plugging the well upon abandonment with their waiver request. Waiver materials will be reviewed to ensure compliance with the provisions for installing and operating monitoring wells in NAC 534.

Geothermal Project Area Permit

Geothermal Project Area application requires a plat indicating location of the wells, a complete drilling program, and the locations of all equipment used. The process for well development will differ depending on whether the developer will use the well for injection of spent geothermal fluids, reinjection of geothermal fluids for production, or to extract geothermal fluids/steam for production. The Division will review application materials to ensure compliance with all drilling requirements, and will issue a Permit to Drill. Developers must provide the Division with notice whenever they are about to commence drilling a hole. Developers are also required to file a Geothermal Well Completion Report to the Division within 60 days after completion or cessation of drilling.

Sundry Notice

Developers must file a Sundry Notice with the Nevada Division of Minerals if they intend to make a minor change in the manner in which the well is operated, conduct a temperature or pressure survey, conduct a flow test, or perform routine maintenance of a well. The Division will review the Sundry Notice and approve or deny the application to make changes to the well. Any proposed change under Sundry Notice must comply with the requirements outlined in NAC 534A. Developers must obtain approval before commencing any of the proposed changes.

More Information

Determine Which State and Federal Permits Apply

Use this overview flowchart and following steps to learn which federal and state permits apply to your projects.

Permitting at a Glance

Nevada Federal

Pre-Drilling Exploration Permit Agency: Nevada Division of Minerals Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service
Pre-Drilling Exploration Permit: On Nevada state lands, no geothermal exploration permit is required for geothermal exploration not involving drilling (pre-drilling exploration). Notice of Intent to Conduct Geothermal Resource Exploration Operations (Form 3200-009)
Drilling Exploration Permit Agency: Nevada Division of Minerals Bureau of Land Management
Drilling Exploration Permit: If a developer plans on drilling a single well, the developer must submit an application for a permit to drill or operate an individual geothermal well to the Nevada Division of Minerals on a form provided by the Administrator. Except as otherwise provided in NAC 534A.196.

If a developer plans on drilling multiple exploratory wells in a defined project area, the developer must submit a Geothermal Project Area Permit application to the Nevada Division of Minerals.

If a developer plans to make minor changes to an existing well, the developer must submit a Sundry Notice to the Nevada Division of Minerals
[1] Notice of Intent to Conduct Geothermal Resource Exploration Operations (Form 3200-009) (Temperature Gradient Well); Geothermal Drilling Permit (Form 3260-002) (All other drilling activities)

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List of Reference Sources

  1. NAC 534A Geothermal Resources (2012).
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