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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

California Drilling and Well Development (5-CA-a)

The California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil and Gas (DOGGR) administers geothermal well drilling activities (permitting, drilling, operations, and abandonment) on lands within California; the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Department of Defense (DOD) are responsible of well permitting on federal leases and DOD lands, respectively and are not permitted by DOGGR.

Prior to submitting an application for a geothermal exploratory project, the Geothermal Unit of the DOGGR shouyld be contacted to discuss the proposed project with the division’s CEQA representative. The reprcsentative from DOGGR inform the applicant of the process to follow in seeking approcal of the application.

For a development project the applicant should contact theplanning department responsible for issuring the Use Permit in the county or city that the project will be developed.

All correspondence and forms submitted to DOGGR for geothermal well measurements must be submitted in metric units. DOGGR recommends that prior to submitting any forms and well permits for drilling activities that they be contacted for the lastest information on submission of permits and associated fees.

Drilling and Well Development Process

5-CA-a.1 - Will the Exploratory Project Contain 6 or Fewer Wells that are Greater than One Half Mile from Any Commercially Productive Well?

To be consider as an exploratiory project there may not be more then 6 wells to be drilled and they must be at least one-half mile, surface distance, from any existing geothermal well with commercial capacity. The wells purpose is to test and evaluate the presence and characteristics of geothermal resources prior to inititating a field development project.

The following criteria defines a well with commerdcial capacity:

1. A well that is supplying a geothermal resource to an existing power plant or other facility to generate electricity.

2. A well that has been production tested and is scheduled to supply a geothermal resource to a power plant or other facility to generateelectricity for which:

  • An application is pending before the California Energy Commission or the California Public Utilities Commission; or
  • The California Energy Commission or California Public Utilities Commission has approved a site; or
  • A contract has been executed between the supplier and a user and conditions have been fulfilled that commit the user to build a facility.

3. A well that is supplying a geothermal resource or has been completedand scheduled to wpply a geothermal resource to facilities existing, under construction, or committed for construction for either the electrical or nonelectrical use of geothermal resources (including, but not limited to, space heating and food processing).

4. A well that has been production tested and, in the operator’s opinion, is able to supply sufficient geothermal energy to justify construction of a facility to utilize the energy, and has been designated capable ofproduction by the State Oil and Gas Supervisor.

5. A well that has been production tested and found by the State Oil and Gas Supervisor, after a public hearing, to be capable of producing sufficient geothermal energy to be a commercially viable geothermal development project.

(Drilling and Operating Geothermal Wells in California, Publication No. PR75)

5-CA-a.2 - Exploration Flow Chart

State Exploration Process:

5-CA-a.3 - Is this an Expansion of an Existing CEC Permitting Project?

If the project is an expansionof an existing project permitted by the California Energy Commission a "Permitted Project Amendment" should be submitted to the CEC.

5-CA-a.4 - Permitted Project Amendment Process

(This flowchart has yet to be created)

5-CA-a.5 - Have You Submitted an Application for Certification to CEC?

5-CA-a.6 - Power Plant Certification

State Plant Commissioning Process, Application for Certification:

5-CA-a.7 - Is the Project on State Lands?

If the project will be on state lands, contact the State Lands Commission to initiate surface leasing, if not then initiate permitting at the county level.

5-CA-a.8 - County Permitting

(These county flowcharts have yet to be created)

5-CA-a.9 - Initiate Environmental Process

The developer must make make sure to undergo an environmental process before drilling. For example, on BLM land, the BLM will not issue a drilling permit until the developer can show he or she has complied with NEPA. For similar ground-disturbing activities on state land or private land, the developer must comply with any state or local environmental regulations.

Environmental Overview: 9

5-CA-a.10 - SLC Surface Leasing

State Land Leasing Process and Land Access (ROWs):

5-CA-a.11 - Initiate Environmental Process

Environmental Overview: 9

5-CA-a.12 - Pipeline Permit

(This flowchart has yet to be created)

5-CA-a.13 - Initiate Environmental Process

Environmental Overview: 9

5-CA-a.14 - CEQA Clearinghouse Number or Proof of CEQA Exemption

For complex projects, the lead agency must send the issue to the State Clearinghouse to ensure the wide range of state and local interests are coordinated appropriately. The State Clearinghouse is responsible for connecting the lead agency to all appropriate responsible agencies for coordination and consultation.

5-CA-a.15 - Notice of Intention to Drill a Geothermal Resource Well (Form OGG105); Bond; Agent Appointment; Drilling Fee

Before drilling can commense, an approved Notice of Intention (NOI)to Drill (OGG105) must be approved by the appropriated DOGGR District Office. The application is required for temperature gradient wells, exploratory wells, Observation wells and injection wells.

The NOI to Drill must also include Designation of Agent (Designation of Agent for Corporation,OGG134A or Designation of Agent for Individual or Partership, OGG134B);

  1. An agent must be designated by the operator who resides in California and whom may receive all orders, notices, and processes of the State Oil and Gas Supervisor or Court of Law.

Bond (Individual Geothermal Resources Well Indemnity Bond, OGG160A; Blanket Resources Well Indemnity Bond, OGG160B; Individual Geothermal Resources Well Cash Bond, OGG160C; or Blanket Geothermal Resources Well Cash Bond, OGG160D):

  1. Individual well bonds may be filed for each well in the sum of $25,000,
  2. Operators planning to drill and operate more Ihan four wells may file a blanket bond for $100,000.
  3. Cash bonds art acceptahle, if approved by the State Oil and Gas Supervisor.

and the appropriate drilling fees:

  1. High Temperature Exploration Well: $1,000
  2. High Temperature Development Wells: $500
  3. Low -Temperature Exploratior and Development Wells: $25 < 250 feet deep (except an injection well); $200 < 1,000 feet deep (except an injection well); $500 > 1,000 feet (or injection well at any depth)
  4. Temperature Gradient Wells: $25 fee is charged for 1 well drilled over 25 feet but no greater than 250 feet deep. A $2OO fee is charged for a shallow-well program of up to 25 wells or 1 intermediate-depth well drlllecf over 250 feet deep but not exceeding 1,000 feet. A $500 fee is charged for an intermediate depth well program of up to 5 wells, or 1 well drilled deeper than 1,000 feet.

A complete application includes documentation that all CEQA procedures have been completed, as all required county, state and federal permits have been issued.

5-CA-a.16 - Review Application Material and Determine Completeness

DOGGR will review the application package for completemenss.

5-CA-a.17 - Is the Application Complete?

If application is not complete it will be returned to the applicant. Once a complete application has been received DOGGR will evaluate the drilling and operations plan for adequancy and make any additional recommendations/conditions of approval prior to approving the permit

5-Ca-a.18 - Permit to Conduct Geothermal Operations

Applicant is authorized to commence operations as per the approced NOI.

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