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Montana State Exploration Process (4-MT-a)


State Exploration Process Process

4-MT-a.1 - Will Activity Be Pre-Drilling Exploration or Exploration Drilling?

In Montana, any kind of exploratory well drilling is handled under the general Drilling and Well Development Process.


4-MT-a.2 - Initiate Drilling and Well Development Process

Drilling and Well Development:
5-MT-a


4-MT-a.3 - Has the Developer Secured the Water Rights Required to Divert and Use a Geothermal Resource?

In Montana, if exploration activities will impact any other water right, the developer must secure a water right. State water laws apply to all geothermal developments involving the production and diversion of geothermal fluids, unless the limited exception in MCA 85-2-306(3) applies. Nonconsumptive closed-loop geothermal development not within the boundaries of the controlled groundwater area may fit within the exception.


4-MT-a.4 - Initiate Water Access/Rights Process

Water Access & Water Rights Issues:
19-MT-a


4-MT-a.5 - Geothermal Exploration Plan Filed with DEQ

All persons exploring for geothermal resources in Montana must file a Geothermal Exploration Plan to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The developer must submit two copies along with an a electronic copy

Plan Requirements from ARM 17.20.202:

(3) The geothermal exploration plan shall be typed, printed, or otherwise legibly reproduced on 8½" x 11" paper. Maps, drawings, charts, or other documents bound in a geothermal exploration plan shall be cut or folded to 8½" x 11" size. Maps, drawings, or charts may accompany a geothermal exploration plan as separate exhibits.

(4) Typed or offset material shall have a 1½" margin on the binding side and a 1" margin on all other sides.

(5) All pages in a geothermal exploration plan shall be consecutively numbered. Maps, drawings, or charts accompanying the geothermal exploration plan as exhibits shall be identified as "Exhibit " and, if comprising more than one sheet, shall be numbered "sheet __ of __."

(6) Within each geothermal exploration plan shall be included:

  • (a) any plans to gather geological data by boring of test holes or other underground exploration, investigation, or experimentation, related to possible future development of geothermal resources;
  • (b) the approximate dates for gathering geological and hydrogeological data by boring of test holes or other underground exploration, investigation, or experimentation, related to possible future development of geothermal resources shall be listed;
  • (c) a statement of the proposed activities to be conducted and the methods utilized;
  • (d) the general location, a description of the area involved, and the size and type of all drill holes, bore holes, or wells to be drilled, instruments, and all other equipment used.


(7) Any change in plans which would result in some action prior to the filing of the next geothermal exploration plan shall be reported to the department within 60 days


4-MT-a.6 - Notice of Intent (NOI) Filed with County Clerk

MCA 82-1-103 A [developer] desiring to engage in geophysical exploration within the state of Montana must file a notice of intention to engage in the exploration with the county clerk and recorder in each county in which exploration is to be carried on or engaged in. The notice must be filed prior to the actual commencement of the exploration.


4-MT-a.7 - Bond (or Equivalent) Filed with Secretary of State

MCA 82-1-104 Prior to performing seismic activity, the developer must file with the secretary of state a surety bond, cash, certificate of deposit, or other instrument acceptable to the secretary of state in the amount of $10,000 for a single seismic crew or a blanket surety bond, cash, certificate of deposit, or other instrument acceptable to the secretary of state in the amount of $25,000 for all seismic crews operating within the state for the developer to indemnify the owners of property within this state for physical damages to their property resulting from any seismic exploration. Partial or complete forfeiture of the surety bond, cash, certificate of deposit, or other instrument acceptable to the secretary of state must be determined by the appropriate court of civil jurisdiction.


4-MT-a.8 - Geophysical Exploration Permit

MCA 82-1-105 Upon compliance with the provisions of this section, namely the filing of a notice of intention to engage in the exploration and a certificate or a copy of the certificate from the secretary of state certifying the name and address of the resident agent for service of process for [the developer] desiring to engage in the exploration and certifying that the required surety bond has been filed with the secretary of state, the county clerk and recorder shall issue to the person, firm, or corporation a geophysical exploration permit.


4-MT-a.9 - Notice of Permit Issuance Forwarded to Board of Oil and Gas Conservation

MCA 82-1-106

(1) The county clerk and recorder of the county in which a permit for geophysical activity is issued will immediately forward notice of the issuance of such permit to the board of oil and gas conservation.

(2) The board shall notify the county clerk and recorder of the county if [the developer] which has obtained a permit is not in compliance with any applicable requirement for engaging in geophysical activity within the state.

(3) If the board of oil and gas conservation determines that [the developer] has violated any provisions of this part, the board shall take necessary action to assure compliance.


4-MT-a.10 - Notice Given to Surface Owner

MCA 82-1-107

Before commencing seismic activity, [the developer] conducting the seismic activity shall notify the surface owner, as defined in 82-10-502, as to the approximate time schedule of the planned activity and shall provide copies of Title 82, chapter 10, part 5, this part, and, if available, a current publication produced by the environmental quality council entitled "A Guide to Split Estates in Oil and Gas Development".


4-MT-a.11 - Initial Field Report Filed with DEQ (60 Days Before Exploration Drilling/Other Underground Exploration)

ARM 17.20.203

(1) Sixty days before the boring of test holes or the initiation of other underground exploration, investigation, or experimentation, related to the possible future development of geothermal resources, [the developer] shall submit an initial field report to the DEQ.

(2) Within each initial field report shall be included:

  • (a) a description of the area involved in the investigation shown on a suitable map, and the probable location of test holes, sample sites, access roads, staging areas, areas where trees or soil are to be removed, and all other such activities. A suitable map would be one with a scale of 1:24,000, except in unusual cases or situations the department may recommend the scale;
  • (b) a summary of environmental impacts which would be created by the planned activities and a description of any plans to lessen, eliminate, or enhance such environmental impacts;
  • (c) a description of activities and methods which will be employed in the investigation.


4-MT-a.12 - Periodic Field Report Filed with DEQ (60 Days After Initiating Exploration Drilling/Other)

ARM 17.20.204

(1) Sixty days after the initiation of the boring of test holes or the initiation of other underground exploration, investigation, or experimentation, related to the possible future development of geothermal resources, and at 60-day intervals for the duration of the investigation, every [devleloper] shall submit a periodic field report to the DEQ.

(2) Each periodic field report for its reporting period shall include:

  • (a) the location of holes drilled or underground experiments performed;
  • (b) the number, depth, and diameter of all hole(s) drilled;
  • (c) the kinds of well logs taken;
  • (d) the kinds of measurements taken (such as heat flow measurements) ;
  • (e) the casing installed, removed, or altered in any way;
  • (f) the methods of closing, plugging, or abandoning of any holes;
  • (g) the kinds of sampling, such as coring or cuttings taken;
  • (h) any other methods or activities which the department may require.


4-MT-a.13 - Record of Work Performed Filed with County Clerk (Within Three Months of Initiation)

MCA 82-1-108

(1) Within 3 months from the day that any firing of shotpoints in seismic exploration is done by [the developer] within this state, [the developer] shall file with the county clerk and recorder of the county in which the work was done a record showing each township and range within the county in which the work was performed and the approximate date on which the work was performed.

(2) [The developer] shall file with the county clerk and recorder a record showing the location of each shotpoint and date fired within a maximum area of any square, 4-section area of land, upon written request of the county clerk and recorder. The request must be based upon the complaint of a property owner that physical damage to the owner's property has resulted from the use of the seismograph and explosives in seismic operations at some location within the maximum 4-square mile area, and the request must designate the name and address of the complaining person and the approximate date and nature of the alleged damages. The required record of operations in response to the request of the county clerk and recorder must be supplied within 30 days from the date on which the request is received.


4-MT-a.14 - Geological Report Filed with DEQ (Within 9 Months of Initiation or 6 Months of Initiation, Whichever is First)

ARM 17.20.206

(1) Within 9 months of the initiation of the investigation or 6 months of the completion of the investigation, whichever comes first, and at intervals of 6 months for the duration of the investigation, every [developer] shall submit a geological report to the DEQ.

(2) The geological report shall be typed, printed, or otherwise legibly reproduced on 8-1/2" x 11" paper. Maps, drawings, charts, or other documents bound in a geological report shall be cut or folded to 8-1/2" x11" size. Maps, drawings, or charts may accompany geological reports as separate exhibits.

(3) Typed or offset material shall have a 1 2 " margin on the binding side and a 1" margin on all other sides.

(4) All pages in a geological report shall be consecutively numbered. Maps, drawings, or charts accompanying the geological report as exhibits shall be identified as "Exhibit " and, if comprising more than 1 sheet, shall be numbered "sheet __of__."

(5) Within each geological report shall be included:

  • (a) a summary of all well logs;
  • (b) results of all measurements of geologic properties;
  • (c) data relating to the geologic structure, temperature, and composition of rocks and fluids as determined by the investigation;
  • (d) any other geologic data generated by the investigation which may be requested by the department.


4-MT-a.15 - Final Field Report Filed with DEQ

ARM 17.20.205

(1) Within 60 days after cessation of such investigation, every [developer] shall submit a final field report to the DEQ.

(2) The final field report shall be typed, printed, or otherwise legibly reproduced on 8-1/2 x 11" paper. Maps, drawings, charts, or other documents bound in a final field report shall be cut or folded to 8-1/2 x11" size. Maps, drawings, or charts may accompany a final field report as separate exhibits.

(3) Typed or offset material shall have a 1/2" margin on the binding side and a 1" margin on all other sides.

(4) All pages in a final field report shall be consecutively numbered. Maps, drawings, or charts accompanying the final field report as exhibits shall be identified as "Exhibit ____" and, if comprising more than 1 sheet, shall be numbered "sheet ___ of ___."

(5) Within each final field report shall be included a summary of the previous periodic field reports for the entire investigation.

(6) If the investigation ceases 60 days after the initiation of the investigation the periodic field report and the final field report may be the same.




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Edit Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Environmental Management Bureau Chief
406.444.6791
wmccullough@mtabbazabbagov
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