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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Guest - Current Regulation

Guest

Shale Gas

Current Regulation

Permitting and construction of oil and gas wells are regulated under Article 27 of GS 113 and rules in 15A NCAC 5D (Article 27 of G.S. 113 was amended this year by Session Law 2011-276 ). The minimum well construction standards in 15A NCAC 2C .0100 are also applicable.

In North Carolina, several regulations currently prevent hydrofracking or other practices commonly conducted in exploration and production of shale gas in some other states. These practices/regulations include:

Practice: Horizontal drilling to allow a greater extent of the gas-producing shale to be reached from a single well. Without horizontal drilling, many more wells would be necessary to extract gas from the same volume of shale.
North Carolina Law: 15A NCAC 5D .0107(e) requires that oil and gas wells be drilled within 3 degrees of vertical.
Practice: Injection wells are used for disposal of produced water and other fluids associated with oil & gas exploration and production.
North Carolina Law: G.S. 143-214.2(b) prohibits the use of wells for disposal of wastes.
Practice: Injection wells are used in oil and gas production to inject chemicals, water or wastewater in order to enhance the movement of oil or gas towards a production well.
North Carolina Law: 15A NCAC 2C .0209(b) prohibits injection wells used to dispose of fluids produced in the extraction of oil & gas or wells used for enhanced recovery of oil & gas.

In addition, direct discharges of wastewater from oil and gas exploration/production are prohibited under federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permit program regulations. Land-based disposal of wastewaters, produced waters and drilling wastes may be permissible under DENR’s land application and solid waste regulatory programs, but at this time no such activities have been permitted or are known to have occurred.

As one piece of the state’s shale gas study, DENR requested that a nonprofit organization called State Review of Oil & Natural Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) perform a review of North Carolina’s oil and gas regulatory programs. The STRONGER review process brought together representatives from the state, the oil and gas industry, and public interest stakeholders to evaluate the state’s regulatory programs against STRONGER’s set of national guidelines. STRONGER’s review panel met in October 2011 to gather information about the state’s processes, and issued a report in February 2012. 

Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing: An Overview of Permitting Systems in Seven Oil and Gas Producing States - document prepared by Janie Hauser, Summer 2010 Legislative Intern, N.C. DENR

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