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Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop Toolkit

Nevada Drilling and Well Development (5-NV-a)

A person may not drill or operate a geothermal well or drill an exploratory well without obtaining a permit from the Administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals. The person must also comply with the condition of that permit. Because Nevada recognizes that the surface owner of property owns the geothermal resources, there are few regulations governing surface use by the geothermal project operator. Only when there has been a explicit reservation of geothermal resources will this issue arise.

Drilling and Well Development Process

5-NV-a.1 - Has an Environmental Review Been Completed for Drilling

Despite the lack of formal environmental review process for the state of Nevada, if the project is on federal lands or receives federal funding, and environmental review will be required.

5-NV-a.2 - Environmental Review 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-NV-a.3 - Is More than One Well Planned at the Project Location

An individual Geothermal Project Area will require additional permitting that is not required for individual wells. If a geothermal project area is established, the developer may permit all wells within the area under one permitting review by the Nevada Division of Minerals.

5-NV-a.4 - Geothermal Project Area Permit Application

A Geothermal Project Area Permit Application requires a plat indicating location of well(s), a complete drilling program, and the locations of all equipment used. Some counties may require additional special permits for drilling. NDOM provides an online version of the Geothermal Project Area Permit required.

5-NV-a.5 - Review Application and Distribute to Relevant Agencies

5-NV-a.6 - Issue Geothermal Project Area Permit

5-NV-a.7 - Application for Permit to Drill; Organizational Report; Drilling Bond

The Nevada Division of Minerals collects a fee for examining and filing any application for a permit to drill or operate a geothermal well or to drill an exploratory well. The fee is based on the number of acres of land being used by the person who holds the permit. NRS 534A.080. Actual fee schedules for the various types of well permits can be found at NAC 534A.210-.216.

The application requirements vary for the following types of geothermal wells:

  1. Individual geothermal wells – NAC 534A.190
  2. Geothermal wells in a project area – NAC 534A.193
  3. Injection wells – NAC 534A.196

Any application for a permit to drill in Nevada requires filing the appropriate Organizational Report and Drilling Bond Application. The NDOM webpage has links to Oil, Gas, & Geothermal Forms which includes the following applicable forms:

Finally, the Geothermal Resource Development Permit Application is used for domestic, industrial, commercial, observation, and thermal gradient wells. This application should be filled out and submitted to the Nevada Division of Minerals before any geothermal development in Nevada.

5-NV-a.8 to 5-NV-a.9 - Review Application Materials for Completeness

The Administrator of the Nevada Division of Minerals must approve or reject the application for a permit to drill or operate a geothermal well within 90 days after receiving the application in the proper form. NRS § 534A.070. The Administrator must consult with the State Engineer, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, and the Nevada Department of Wildlife. The application to drill or operate a geothermal will must be approved or rejected within 90 days after the Administrator receives it in proper form unless a conflict exists or a public hear is necessary. Notice of the conflict or need for a public hearing must be provided to the applicant within the 90-day period by filling out the appropriate Application for Hearing Form. The State Engineer and Administrator of NDOM may hold public hearings jointly or separately to gather evidence or information as they deem necessary for a full understanding of all the rights involved in properly guarding the public interest. NRS 534A.070.

The Administrator will review the application with the limitations set forth in NAC 534A.200 and .205. These regulations provide that no wells may be drilled within 100 feet of the boundary line of the land on which the well is situated, or a public road, street, or highway. However, upon a written application, the Administrator may grant an exception to this spacing limitation considering the topographic, hydrologic and geologic characteristics of the area and the characteristics of the reservoir, the protection of the environment, and any existing rights in place.

Except for thermal gradient wells, the location of an individual geothermal well or geothermal wells must be surveyed by a state water right surveyor. A certified plat of the location must be filed within 30 days of completion of construction of the well and the plat must comply with the regulation in NAC 534A.205.

5-NV-a.10 - Will Well be Used as a Production or Injection Well

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.

5-NV-a.11 - State Underground Injection Control (UIC) Permit

If the developer is injecting spent geothermal fluids or reinjecting geothermal fluids for production of electric energy, the developer must receive an Underground Injection Control Permit for a Class V Underground Injection Well. NAC 445A.849 provides a list of Class V Underground Injection Wells requiring a permit.

Underground Injection Control Permit:

5-NV-a.12 to 5-NV-a.13 - Will all of the Produced Fluid be Reinjected

If the project will reinject all of the fluids for production of electric energy, the developer must receive an Underground Injection Control Permit (see above in 5-NV-a.11). If the developer will not reinject all of the fluids for production, the developer will need to acquire a water right for the geothermal fluids extracted and should intiate the water rights acquisition process.

Water Access and Water Rights Issues:

5-NV-a.14 - Permit to Drill

Permits may not be effective for more than two years, however, they may be extended by the Administrator. NRS 534A.070. Additionally, NDOM no longer requires public notice prior to issuing approvals to drill geothermal wells or to establish a geothermal project area. Based on a Memorandum issued by NDOM, there is no public notice requirement required by either statute (NRS 534) or regulation (NAC 534A).

The Administrator may issue a permit if it is determined that issuing the permit is consistent with:

  • The policies specified in NRS 445A.305 and 445B.100;
  • The purposes of NRS Chapters 533, and 534; and
  • The purposes of NRS Chapter 501

5-NV-a.15 - Provide DOM with 48 hr Notice Prior to Drilling

NAC 534A.120 requires that a driller notify the State Engineer whenever the driller is about to commence drilling a hole. The notice should give the name of the driller’s client, the approximate location and depth to be drilled. The Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Sundry Notice and Report on Wells should be used for this purpose.

Drillers should follow all appropriate Nevada state regulations and statutes governing the appropriate safety and information requirements when commencing drilling operations. Geothermal specific statutes can be found at NRS 534A and regulations at NAC 534A. Contact NDOM for more information.

5-NV-a.16 - Does the Permit Require a Minor Change?

NAC 534A.535

5-NV-a.17 - Sundry Notice

Sundry Notice:

5-NV-a.18 - Geothermal Well Completion Report

In accordance with NAC 534A, the operator must file a Geothermal Well Completion Report form with NDOM including the electrical logs required to be kept and the record of the core, the history of the well, and the summary or work. Regulations require that this report be filed within 60 days after the completion or cessation of drilling (NAC 534A.350); however, the form itself provided by NDOM suggests that it be filed no later than 30 days after the will is abandoned or put on production. The developer should contact NDOM to assure compliance with all completion reporting requirements.

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  • Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS)
  • Nevada Administrative Code (NAC)

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