§ 45.1-361.11

Objections by coal owner

A. In deciding on objections by a coal owner to a proposed permit modification or drilling unit modification, only the following questions shall be considered:

1. Whether the work can be done safely with respect to persons engaged in coal mining at or near the well site; and

2. Whether the well work is an unreasonable or arbitrary exercise of the well operator’s right to explore for, market and produce oil and gas.

B. In deciding on objections by a coal owner to the establishment of a drilling unit, a permit for a new well, or the stimulation of a coalbed methane gas well, the following safety aspects shall first be considered, and no order or permit shall be issued where the evidence indicates that the proposed activities will be unsafe:

1. Whether the drilling unit or drilling location is above or in close proximity to any mine opening or shaft, entry, travelway, airway, haulageway, drainageway or passageway, or to any proposed extension thereof, in any operated or abandoned or operating coal mine, or in any coal mine already surveyed and platted but not yet being operated;

2. Whether the proposed drilling can reasonably be done through an existing or planned pillar of coal, or in close proximity to an existing well or such pillar of coal, taking into consideration the surface topography;

3. Whether the proposed well can be drilled safely or the proposed coalbed methane gas well can be stimulated safely, taking into consideration the dangers from creeps, squeezes or other disturbances due to the extraction of coal; and

4. The extent to which the proposed drilling unit or drilling location or stimulation of the coalbed methane gas well unreasonably interferes with the safe recovery of coal, oil and gas.

C. The following questions with respect to the drilling unit or drilling location of a new well or stimulation of a new coalbed methane gas well shall also be considered:

1. The extent to which the proposed drilling unit or drilling location or coalbed methane gas well stimulation will unreasonably interfere with present or future coal mining operations;

2. The feasibility of moving the proposed drilling unit or drilling location to a mined-out area, below the coal outcrop or to some other area;

3. The feasibility of a drilling moratorium for not more than two years in order to permit the completion of coal mining operations;

4. The method proposed for the recovery of coal and gas;

5. The practicality of locating the unit or the well on a uniform pattern with other units or wells;

6. The surface topography and use; and

7. Whether the decision will substantially affect the right of the gas operator to explore for and produce the gas.The factors in subsection C of this section are not intended to and shall not be construed to authorize the Director, or the Board under § 45.1-361.36, to supersede, impair, abridge or affect any contractual rights or obligations now or hereafter existing between the respective owners of coal and gas or any interest therein.


1982, c. 347, § 45.1-318; 1990, c. 92.


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