(a) The operator of a horizontal well shall reclaim the land surface within the area disturbed in siting, drilling, completing or producing the well in accordance with the following requirements:
(1) Except as provided elsewhere in this article, within six months after a horizontal well is drilled and completed on a well pad designed for a single horizontal well, the operator shall fill all the pits and impoundments that are not required or allowed by state or federal law or rule or agreement between the operator and the surface owner that allows the impoundment to remain open for the use and benefit of the surface owner (i.e. a farm pond as described in section nine of this article) and remove all concrete bases, drilling supplies and drilling equipment: Provided, That impoundments or pits for which certificates have been approved pursuant to section nine of this article shall be reclaimed at a time and in a manner as provided in the applicable certificate and section nine. Within that six-month period, the operator shall grade or terrace and plant, seed or sod the area disturbed that is not required in production of the horizontal well in accordance with the erosion and sediment control plan. No pit may be used for the ultimate disposal of salt water. Salt water and oil shall be periodically drained or removed and properly disposed of from any pit that is retained so the pit is kept reasonably free of salt water and oil. Pits may not be left open permanently.
(2) For well pads designed to contain multiple horizontal wells, partial reclamation shall begin upon completion of the construction of the well pad. For purposes of this section, the term partial reclamation means grading or terracing and planting, or seeding the area disturbed that is not required in drilling, completing or producing any of the horizontal wells on the well pad in accordance with the erosion and sediment control plan. This partial reclamation satisfies the reclamation requirements of this section for a maximum of twenty-four months between the drilling of horizontal wells on a well pad designed to contain multiple horizontal wells: Provided, That the maximum aggregate period in which partial reclamation satisfies the reclamation requirements of this section is five years from completion of the construction of the well pad. Within six months after the completion of the final horizontal well on the pad or the expiration of the five-year maximum aggregate partial reclamation period, whichever occurs first, the operator shall complete final reclamation of the well pad as set forth in this subsection.
(3) Within six months after a horizontal well that has produced oil or gas is plugged or after the plugging of a dry hole, the operator shall remove all production and storage structures, supplies and equipment and any oil, salt water and debris and fill any remaining excavations. Within that six-month period, the operator shall grade or terrace and plant, seed or sod the area disturbed where necessary to bind the soil and prevent substantial erosion and sedimentation.
(4) The operator shall reclaim the area of land disturbed in siting, drilling, completing or producing the horizontal well in accordance with the erosion and sediment control plans approved by the secretary or the secretary's designee pursuant to this article.
(b) The secretary, upon written application by an operator
showing reasonable cause, may extend the period within which
reclamation must be completed, but not to exceed a further six-
month period. If the secretary refuses to approve a request for
extension, the refusal shall be by order, which may be appealed
pursuant to the provisions of subdivision twenty-three, subsection
(a), section five of this article.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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