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Utah State Exploration Process (4-UT-a)

The Division of Water Rights is given jurisdiction and authority to require that all wells for the discovery and production of water to be used for geothermal energy production of water in the State of Utah, be drilled, operated, maintained, and abandoned in a manner as to safeguard life, health, property, the public welfare, and to encourage maximum economic recovery. (R655-1-1.1)


State Exploration Process Process

4-UT-a.1 - Has the Environmental Process been Completed for Exploration?

If the developer has not yet completed an environmental review process for exploration activities, Developer must do so before proceeding.


4-UT-a.2 - Environmental Review Process

Environmental Overview: 9


4-UT-a.3 - Is the Proposed Activity Pre-drilling Exploration or Exploration Drilling?

In Utah, no exploration permit is required for non-invasive exploration activities, i.e., activities that fall short of drilling for the discovery or production of geothermal resources. However, Developer must still be aware of potential land access issues.


4-UT-a.4 - No Permit Needed; Continue with Project

No exploration permit is required for non-invasive exploration activities on state land.


4-UT-a.5 - Is the Geothermal Resource Greater than 120 Degrees C?

According to the Utah Geothermal Resource Conservation Act, "geothermal fluid" means water and steam at temperatures greater than 120 degrees centigrade naturally present in a geothermal system."

"Geothermal resource" is defined as the "natural heat of the earth at temperatures greater than 120 degrees centigrade" and "the energy, in whatever form, created by, or which may be extracted from that natural heat, directly or through a material medium. Geothermal Resource does not include geothermal fluids."


4-UT-a.6 - Low Temperature Geothermal; No Exploration Permit Needed

Low temperature geothermal, less than 120 degrees centigrade, is not considered a geothermal resource as the term applies to Idaho Department of Water Resources geothermal exploration permitting.


4-UT-a.7 - Will Developer Drill a Temperature Gradient Well?

Under the Utah Administrative Code, specific requirements exist for the drilling of temperature gradient wells.


4-UT-a.8 - Request for Approval for Temperature Gradient Well Program, NOI, Requested Information

Request for Approval of Temperature Gradient Well Program

According to R655-1-8.2, the request for a temperature gradient well program must include:

(a) Well number.

(b) Well location, elevation and expected depth.

(c) Geologic interpretation of area under investigation, including any known or inferred temperature data.

(d) Proposed drilling program, including method and casing schedule.

(e) Proposed method of abandonment.

(f) The State Engineer may require other data and impose restrictions or supervision by the Division as his studies may indicate.


NOI

According to UC 73-22-6 (Utah Geothermal Resource Conservation Act), the developer must file an NOI with the Division of Water Rights before the developer drills, redrills, deepens, permanently alters the casing of, or abandons any well. "Approval of the notice of intent must be obtained from the division prior to commencement of operations."


4-UT-a.9 - Review Request, NOI, Attached Information

Before approving or disapproving the Request, NOI, or any attached information, the Division will review all materials.


4-UT-a.10 - Give Notice to Other Agencies

According to R655-1-2.1.6, the Division of Water Rights may give any notice of application, permit, order, or other action to any other agency which may have information, comments, or interest in the activity involved.


4-UT-a.11 - Approved Request, NOI

After review of the NOI and request for approval, if both are complete and satisfactory, the NOI and request will be approved.


4-UT-a.12 - Follow Temperature Gradient well Conditions

Conditions: The following general conditions shall apply to temperature gradient wells:

(a) The depth of the hole shall not exceed 500 feet unless otherwise authorized by the State Engineer.

(b) The wells are to be cased and sealed against the water in the formations to be drilled.

(c) Return mud or air temperatures shall be monitored at, at least 30 foot intervals and should the temperature reach 125 degrees F. the drilling shall cease and the casing installed or the hole abandoned. Plastic casing may be used at temperatures under 125 degrees F.; otherwise, steel casing shall be used.

(d) Upon completion of the testing program, the casings are to be capped, or the casings are to be pulled and the holes cemented from bottom to top.

(e) The driller must be bonded and have a current well driller's permit from the State Engineer. Before starting, he must give this Division notice of the day he will begin drilling.

(f) Temperature data and logs of each hole surveyed are to be submitted to the State Engineer. These will be held in confidential status until released by the owner.

(g) The driller shall exercise due caution in all drilling operations to prevent blowouts, explosions or fires.

(R655-1-8.3)


4-UT-a.13 - Drilling Records Submitted to DWR

4.2 Records to be Filed with the Division:

  • 4.2.1 Drilling Logs and Core Record -- the drilling log shall include the lithologic characteristics and depths of formations encountered, the depth and temperatures, chemical compositions and other chemical and physical characteristics of fluids encountered from time to time so far as ascertained. The core record shall show the depth, lithologic character, and fluid content of cores obtained so far as determined.
  • 4.2.2 Well History -- the history shall describe in detail in chronological order on a daily basis all significant operations carried out and equipment used during all phases of drilling, testing, completion, and abandonment of any well.
  • 4.2.3 Well Summary Report -- the well summary report shall accompany the core record and well history reports. It is designed to show data pertinent to the condition of a well at the time of completion of work done.
  • 4.2.4 Production Records -- the owner or operator of any well producing geothermal resources shall file with the Division on or before the tenth day of each month for the preceding month, a statement of production utilized in a form as the Division may designate.
  • 4.2.5 Injection Records -- the owner or operator of any well injecting geothermal fluids or waste water for any purpose shall file with the Division on or before the tenth day of each month for the preceding month a report of the injection as the Division may designate.
  • 4.2.6 Electric Logs and Directional Surveys if Conducted -- electric logs and directional surveys shall be filed upon recompletion of any well. Like copies shall be filed upon recompletion of any well. Upon a showing of hardship, the Division may extend the time within which to comply for a period not to exceed one year.

4.3 Confidential Status: Any reports, logs, records, or histories filed with the Division shall not be available for public inspection and shall be kept confidential by the Division unless agreed to by the owner, provided, however, that the Division may use any reports, logs, records, or histories in any action in any court to enforce the provisions of Title 73, Chapter 22, or any order adopted hereunder. The following information may be made public by the Division:

(a) Owner or operator's name.

(b) Well designation or number.

(c) Elevation of derrick floor or ground elevation.

(d) Location of well.

(e) The application and all information pertaining to it, including its current status.

4.4 Inspection of Records: The records filed by an operator with the Division shall be open to inspection only to those authorized in writing by the operator and to designated Division personnel. The records of any operator filed for a completed or producing well that has been transferred by sale, lease, or otherwise shall be available to the new owner or lessee for his inspection or copying and shall be available for inspection or copying by others upon written authorization of new owner or lessee.


4-UT-a.14 - Notice of Intent (NOI); Plan of Operations

Notice of Intent (NOI)

According to UC 73-22-6 (Utah Geothermal Resource Conservation Act), the developer must file an NOI with the Division of Water Rights before the developer drills, redrills, deepens, permanently alters the casing of, or abandons any well. "Approval of the notice of intent must be obtained from the division prior to commencement of operations."

Plan of Operations

Under R655-1-2.1.2, the developer must submit a plan of operations to the State Engineer before drilling any exploratory or production well.

The plan must include:

(a) Location, elevation and layout.

(b) Lease identification and Well Number.

(c) Tools and equipment description including maximum capacity and depth rating.

(d) Expected depth and geology.

(e) Drilling, mud, cementing and casing program.

(f) BOPE installation and test.

(g) Logging, coring and testing program.

(h) Methods for disposal of waste materials.

(i) Environmental considerations.

(j) Emergency procedures.

(k) Other information as the State Engineer may require.


4-UT-a.15 - Review NOI, Plan of Operations

Before approving or disapproving the NOI or plan of operations, the Division will review the submissions and any accompanying information.


4-UT-a.16 - Give Notice to Other Agencies

According to R655-1-2.1.6, the Division of Water Rights may give any notice of application, permit, order, or other action to any other agency which may have information, comments, or interest in the activity involved.


4-UT-a.17 - Approved NOI, Plan of Operations

After review of the NOI and plan of operations, if both are complete and satisfactory, the NOI and plan of operations will be approved.


4-UT-a.18 - Identify Well per R655-1-2.5

According to Utah Code R655-1-2.5, any well drilled and not abandoned must be marked with a sign, which includes the name of the applicant, well number, location by 10-acre tract, and name of lease.


4-UT-a.19 - Keep and Submit Records; Observe Spacing, Casing, and BOPE Requirements

Records

4.2 Records to be Filed with the Division:

  • 4.2.1 Drilling Logs and Core Record -- the drilling log shall include the lithologic characteristics and depths of formations encountered, the depth and temperatures, chemical compositions and other chemical and physical characteristics of fluids encountered from time to time so far as ascertained. The core record shall show the depth, lithologic character, and fluid content of cores obtained so far as determined.
  • 4.2.2 Well History -- the history shall describe in detail in chronological order on a daily basis all significant operations carried out and equipment used during all phases of drilling, testing, completion, and abandonment of any well.
  • 4.2.3 Well Summary Report -- the well summary report shall accompany the core record and well history reports. It is designed to show data pertinent to the condition of a well at the time of completion of work done.
  • 4.2.4 Production Records -- the owner or operator of any well producing geothermal resources shall file with the Division on or before the tenth day of each month for the preceding month, a statement of production utilized in a form as the Division may designate.
  • 4.2.5 Injection Records -- the owner or operator of any well injecting geothermal fluids or waste water for any purpose shall file with the Division on or before the tenth day of each month for the preceding month a report of the injection as the Division may designate.
  • 4.2.6 Electric Logs and Directional Surveys if Conducted -- electric logs and directional surveys shall be filed upon recompletion of any well. Like copies shall be filed upon recompletion of any well. Upon a showing of hardship, the Division may extend the time within which to comply for a period not to exceed one year.

4.3 Confidential Status: Any reports, logs, records, or histories filed with the Division shall not be available for public inspection and shall be kept confidential by the Division unless agreed to by the owner, provided, however, that the Division may use any reports, logs, records, or histories in any action in any court to enforce the provisions of Title 73, Chapter 22, or any order adopted hereunder. The following information may be made public by the Division:

(a) Owner or operator's name.

(b) Well designation or number.

(c) Elevation of derrick floor or ground elevation.

(d) Location of well.

(e) The application and all information pertaining to it, including its current status.

4.4 Inspection of Records: The records filed by an operator with the Division shall be open to inspection only to those authorized in writing by the operator and to designated Division personnel. The records of any operator filed for a completed or producing well that has been transferred by sale, lease, or otherwise shall be available to the new owner or lessee for his inspection or copying and shall be available for inspection or copying by others upon written authorization of new owner or lessee.

(R655-1-4)


Spacing

2.4 Well Spacing:

  • 2.4.1 Any well drilled for the discovery or production of geothermal resources or as an injection well shall be located 100 feet or more from and within the outer boundary of the parcel of land on which the well is situated, or 100 feet or more from a public road, street, or highway dedicated prior to the commencement of drilling. This requirement may be modified or waived by the State Engineer upon written request if it can be demonstrated that public safety is preserved and that the integrity of the geothermal source is not jeopardized.
  • 2.4.2 For several contiguous parcels of land in one or different ownerships that are operated as a single geothermal field, the term outer boundary line means the outer boundary line of the land included in the field. In determining the contiguity of parcels of land, no street, road, or alley lying within the lease or field shall be determined to interrupt such contiguity.
  • 2.4.3 The State Engineer shall approve the proposed well spacing programs or prescribe modifications to the programs as he deems necessary for proper development giving consideration to factors as, but not limited to, topographic characteristics of the area, the number of wells that can be economically drilled to provide the necessary volume of geothermal resources for the intended use, protecting correlative rights, minimizing well interference, unreasonable interference with multiple use of lands, and protection of the environment.


Casing

2.7 Casing Requirements:

  • 2.7.1 General.

All wells shall be cased in a manner to protect or minimize damage to the environment, usable ground waters and surface waters, geothermal resources, life, health, and property. The permanent well head completion equipment shall be attached to the production casing or to the intermediate casing if production casing does not reach the surface.

Specifications for casing strings shall be determined or approved on a well-to-well basis. All casing strings reaching the surface shall provide adequate anchorage for blowout-prevention equipment, hole pressure control and protection for all natural resources. The casing requirements given are general but should be used as guidelines in submitting proposals to drill.

  • 2.7.2 Conductor Casing.

A minimum of 40 feet of conductor casing shall be installed. The annular space is to be cemented solid to the surface. A 24-hour cure period for the grout must be allowed prior to drilling out the shoe unless additives approved by the State Engineer are used to obtain early strength. An annular blowout preventer shall be installed on all exploratory wells and on development wells when deemed necessary by the Division. For low-temperature geothermal wells less than 90 degrees C. this requirement may be reduced or waived by the State Engineer.

  • 2.7.3 Surface Casing.

Except in the case of low-temperature geothermal wells, the surface casing hole shall be logged with an induction electrical log, or equivalent, before running casing or by gamma-neutron log. This requirement may vary from area to area, depending upon the amount of pre-existing subsurface geological data available. If sufficient subsurface geologic data is available, the State Engineer may not require additional logging of the surface casing hole. However, permission to omit this requirement must be granted by the Division prior to running surface casing.

Surface casing shall provide for control of formation fluids, for protection of shallow usable ground water and for adequate anchorage for blowout-prevention equipment. All surface casing shall be cemented solid to the surface. A 24-hour cure period shall be allowed prior to drilling out the shoe of the surface casing unless additives approved by the State Engineer are used to obtain early strength.

  • 2.7.3.1 Length of Surface Casing.

(a) In areas where subsurface geological conditions are variable or unknown, surface casing in general shall be set at a depth of wells drilled in those areas. A minimum of surface casing shall be set through a sufficient series of low permeability, competent lithologic units to ensure a solid anchor for blowout-prevention equipment and to protect usable ground water and surface water from contamination. A second string or intermediate casing may be required if the first string has not been cemented through a sufficient series of low permeability, competent lithologic units and either a rapidly increasing geothermal gradient or rapidly increasing formation pressures are encountered.

(b) In areas of known high formation pressure, surface casing shall be set at a depth approved by the Division after a careful study of geological conditions.

(c) Within the confines of designated geothermal fields, the depth to which surface casing shall be set shall be approved by the Division on the basis of known field conditions.

(d) These requirements may be reduced or waived by the State Engineer for low-temperature geothermal wells.

  • 2.7.3.2 Mud Return Temperatures.

The temperature of the return mud shall be monitored regularly during the drilling of the surface casing hole. Either a continuous temperature monitoring device shall be installed and maintained in working condition, or the temperature shall be read manually. In either case, return mud temperature shall be logged after each joint of pipe has been drilled down 30 feet.

  • 2.7.3.3 Blowout-Prevention Equipment.

BOPE capable of shutting-in the well during any operation shall be installed on the surface casing and maintained ready for use at all times. BOPE pressure tests shall be witnessed by Division personnel on all exploratory wells prior to drilling out the shoe of the surface casing. The decision to require and witness BOPE pressure tests on all other wells shall be made on a well-to-well basis. The Division must be contacted 24 hours in advance of a scheduled pressure test. The State Engineer may give verbal permission to proceed with the test upon request by the operator.

  • 2.7.4 Intermediate Casing.

Intermediate casing shall be required for protection against unusual pressure zones, cave-ins, wash- outs, abnormal temperature zones, uncontrollable lost circulation zones or other drilling hazards. Intermediate casing strings shall be cemented solid to the surface or to the top of the liner hanger whenever the intermediate casing string is run as a liner. The liner lap shall be pressure tested prior to resumption of drilling.

  • 2.7.5 Production Casing.

Production casing may be set above or through the producing or injection zone and cemented above the injection zones. Sufficient cement shall be used to exclude overlying formation fluids from the geothermal zone, to segregate zones and to prevent movement of fluids behind the casing into zones that contain usable ground water. Production casing shall either be cemented solid to the surface or lapped into intermediate casing, if run. If the production casing is lapped into an intermediate casing, the casing overlap shall be at least 100 feet, the lap shall be cemented solid, and it shall be pressure tested to ensure its integrity.


BOPE

3.1 General.

  • 3.1.1 Blowout-Prevention Equipment (BOPE) installations shall include high temperature-rated packing units and ram rubbers, if available, and shall have a minimum working-pressure rating equal to or greater than the lesser of:

(a) A pressure equal to the product of the depth of the BOPE anchor string in feet times one psi per foot.

(b) A pressure equal to the rated burst pressure of the BOPE anchor string.

(c) A pressure equal to 2,000 psi.

Specific inspections and tests of the BOPE may be made by the Division. The requirements for tests will be included in the Division's answer to the notice of the intention to drill.

  • 3.1.2 A Division employee may be present at the well at any time during the drilling.
  • 3.1.3 A logging unit equipped to regularly record the following data shall be installed and operated continuously after drilling out the shoe of the conductor pipe and until the well has been drilled to the total depth.

(a) Drilling mud temperature.

(b) Drilling mud pit level.

(c) Drilling mud pump volume.

(d) Drilling mud weight.

(e) Drilling rate.

(f) Hydrogen sulfide gas volume.

The Division may waive the requirement for installation of a logging unit on evidence that the owner or operator has engaged a qualified mud engineer to monitor, log and record the data specified in the above subparagraphs a. through d. The drilling rate required in subparagraph e. shall be logged with standard industry recording devices, and hydrogen sulfide monitoring and safety equipment shall be provided whenever needed to satisfy the requirement of subparagraph f.

3.2 Requirements Using Mud as the Drilling Fluid.

The following requirements are for exploratory areas, unstable areas containing fumaroles, geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and for fields with a history of lost circulation, a blowout, or zone pressures less than 1000 psi. These requirements may be reduced by the State Engineer where the geothermal formations are known to be shallow and of low pressure and temperature.

(a) An annular BOPE and a spool, fitted with a low-pressure safety pop-off and blow-down line, installed on the conductor pipe may be required to ensure against possible gas blowouts during the drilling of the surface casing hole.

(b) Annular BOPE and pipe-ram/blind-ram BOPE with a minimum working pressure rating of 2,000 psi shall be installed on the surface casing so that the well can be shut-in at any time. The double-ram preventer shall have a mechanical locking device.

(c) A hydraulic actuating system utilizing an accumulator of sufficient capacity and a high pressure auxiliary back-up system. This total system shall be equipped with dual controls: one at the driller's station and one at least 50 feet away from the well head.

(d) Kelly cock and standpipe valve.

(e) A fill-up line installed above the BOPE.

(f) A kill line installed below the BOPE, leading directly to the mud pumps and fitted with a valve through which cement could be pumped if necessary.

(g) A blow-down line fitted with two valves installed below the BOPE. The blow-down line shall be directed in a manner to permit containment of produced fluids and to minimize any safety hazard to personnel.

(h) All lines and fittings shall be steel and have a minimum working-pressure rating of at least that required of the BOPE.

(i) The temperature of the return mud during the drilling of the surface casing hole shall be monitored regularly. Either a continuous temperature monitoring device shall be installed and maintained in working condition, or the temperature shall be read manually. In either case, return mud temperatures shall be logged after each joint of pipe is drilled down every 30 feet.

3.3 Requirements Using Air as the Drilling Fluid.

The following requirements are for areas where it is known that dry steam exists at depth or formation pressures are less than hydrostatic:

(a) A rotating-head installed at the top of the BOPE stack.

(b) A pipe-ram/blind-ram BOPE, with a minimum working-pressure rating of 1,000 psi, installed below the rotating-head so that the well can be shut-in at any time.

(c) A banjo-box or mud-cross steam diversion unit installed below the double-ram BOPE fitted with a muffler capable of lowering sound emissions to within State standards.

(d) A blind-ram BOPE, with a minimum working-pressure rating of 1,000 psi, installed below the banjo- box or mud-cross so that the well can be shut-in while removing the rotating-head during bit changes.

(e) A master gate valve, with a minimum working-pressure rating of 600 psi, installed below the blind-ram so that the well can be shut-in after the well has been completed, prior to removal of the BOPE stack.

(f) All ram-type BOPE shall have a hydraulic actuating system utilizing an accumulator of sufficient capacity and a high-pressure backup system.

(g) Dual control stations for hydraulic backup system: one at the driller's station and the other at least 50 feet away from the well head.

(h) Float and standpipe valves.

(i) A kill line installed below the BOPE, leading directly to the mud pumps and fitted with a valve through which cement could be pumped if necessary.

(j) All lines and fittings must be steel and have a minimum working-pressure rating of 1,000 psi.




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Edit Utah Division of Water Rights
State Engineer
801.538.7240

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Edit Utah Division of Water Rights
State Exploration and Well Development Contact
801.538.7407
Johnsolum@utahabbazabbagov
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