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RULE §3.96Underground Storage of Gas in Productive or Depleted Reservoirs

    (A) If the commission receives a protest regarding an application for amendment of a gas storage project permit from a person notified pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection or from any other affected person within 15 days of the date of receipt of the application by the commission, or of the date of the third publication, whichever is later, or if the commission or its designee determines that a hearing is in the public interest, then the applicant will be notified that the application for amendment cannot be administratively approved. The commission will schedule a hearing on the application upon request of the applicant. The commission will give notice of the hearing to all affected persons, local governments, and other persons who express, in writing, an interest in the application. After hearing, the examiner shall recommend a final action by the commission.

    (B) If the commission receives no protest regarding an application for amendment of a gas storage project permit from a person notified pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection or from any other affected person, the application may be approved administratively.

    (C) If the application for amendment of a gas storage project permit is administratively denied, a hearing will be scheduled upon written request of the applicant. After hearing, the examiner shall recommend a final action by the commission.

(g) Modification, cancellation, or suspension of a permit.

  (1) General. A permit may be modified, suspended, or canceled after notice and opportunity for hearing under any of the following circumstances:

    (A) a material change in conditions has occurred in the operation of the gas storage project, or there are material deviations from the information originally furnished to the commission. A change in conditions at a facility that does not affect the safe operation of the facility or the ability of the facility to operate without causing waste of hydrocarbons or pollution is not considered to be material;

    (B) fresh water is likely to be polluted as a result of the continued operation of the gas storage project;

    (C) there are material violations of the terms and provisions of the permit or of applicable commission orders or regulations;

    (D) the applicant has misrepresented material facts during the permit issuance process; or

    (E) injected fluids are escaping or are likely to escape from the storage project.

  (2) Imminent danger. Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection, in the event of an emergency that presents an imminent danger to life or property, or where waste of hydrocarbons, uncontrolled escape of hydrocarbons, or pollution of fresh water is imminent, the commission or its designee may immediately suspend a permit for underground gas storage until a final order is issued pursuant to a hearing, if any, conducted in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection. All underground gas storage operations shall cease upon suspension of a permit under this paragraph.

(h) Transfer of permit. A gas storage project permit may be transferred from one operator to another operator if both of the following requirements are met.

  (1) Notice. Written notice of intended permit transfer is submitted to the commission at least 15 days prior to the date the transfer takes place.

  (2) No objection. The commission or its designee does not notify the present permit holder of an objection to the transfer prior to the transfer date stated in the notification in paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(i) Safety requirements for gas storage projects.

  (1) Leak detectors.

    (A) Within two years of the effective date of this section, leak detectors shall be installed and in operation at each gas storage well that is located 100 yards or less from a residence, commercial establishment, church, school, or small, well-defined outside area, and at each structurally enclosed compressor site. For purposes of this section, the term "small, well-defined outside area" means an area such as a playground, recreation area, outdoor theater, or other place of public assembly that is occupied by 20 or more persons on at least five days a week for 10 weeks in any 12-month period. The days and weeks need not be consecutive.

    (B) Each leak detector required under this paragraph shall be tested twice each calendar year at intervals not to exceed 7-1/2 months and, when defective, repaired or replaced within 10 days.

  (2) Warning systems. Within two years of the effective date of this section, all leak detectors required in paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be integrated with warning systems that are audible and visible in the control room and at any remote control center. The circuitry shall be designed so that failure of a detector or pressure monitor to function will activate the warning.

  (3) Emergency response plan. Within six months of the effective date of this section, each operator shall submit to the commission a safety plan that includes emergency response procedures, provisions to provide security against unauthorized activity, and gas release detection and prevention measures. The plan shall include a description of and be designed for the residential, commercial, and public land use in the proximity of the gas storage project. The initial plan must be designed based upon the existing safety measures at the facility. The plan shall be updated as changes in safety features at the facility occur, or as the commission or its designee requires. Copies of the plan shall be available at the storage facility and at the company headquarters.

  (4) Safety training. Within six months of the effective date of this section, each operator shall prepare and implement a plan to train and test each employee at each gas storage project on operational safety and emergency response procedures to the extent applicable to the employee's duties and responsibilities. The plan shall be incorporated into the plan addressing the requirements of the United States Department of Transportation and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Each operator shall hold a safety meeting with each contractor prior to the commencement of any new contract work at a gas storage project. Emergency measures specific to the contractor's work shall be explained in the contractor safety meeting.

  (5) Gas withdrawal wells exempt. Gas storage wells that will be used only for gas withdrawal are exempt from the requirements of paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection.

(j) Area of review. The applicant shall review the data of public record for wells that penetrate the portion of the gas reservoir that falls within the area proposed to be designated as the gas storage reservoir, and those wells that penetrate the gas reservoir within 1/4 mile of the outer boundary of the proposed gas storage reservoir, to determine if all abandoned wells have been plugged in a manner that will prevent the movement of fluids from the gas storage reservoir. The applicant shall identify in the application any wells which appear from such review of public records to be unplugged or improperly plugged, and any other unplugged or improperly plugged wells of which the applicant has actual knowledge.

(k) Casing. Gas storage wells shall be cased and the casing cemented in compliance with §3.13 of this title (relating to Casing, Cementing, Drilling, and Completion Requirements).

(l) Special equipment.

  (1) Tubing and packer. New wells drilled or converted for injection of gases after April 1, 1982, shall be equipped with tubing set on a mechanical packer. Packers shall be set no higher than 200 feet below the known top of cement behind the long string casing but in no case higher than 150 feet below the base of fresh water.

  (2) Pressure observation valve. The wellhead shall be equipped with a pressure observation valve on the tubing and each annulus of the well.

  (3) Exceptions. An exception to any provision of this subsection may be granted administratively upon a showing of good cause. If a request for an exception is administratively denied, the operator shall have a right to a hearing upon request. After hearing, the examiner shall recommend a final action by the commission.

(m) Well record. Within 30 days after the completion, conversion, or recompletion of a gas storage well, the operator shall file in duplicate in the district office a complete record of the well on the appropriate form which shows the current completion.

(n) Monitoring and reporting.

  (1) Wellhead pressure. The wellhead pressure of each gas storage well shall be continuously recorded, continuously monitored electronically, or controlled by a preset high-low pressure sensor switch.

  (2) Pressure reporting. Information regarding wellhead pressures for each gas storage well shall be reported annually to the commission on the prescribed form.


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