Ohio DNR Issues New Horizontal Well Permit Requirements

by: Steve Lyncha, P.E., and Jim Gue
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The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has officially adopted new permit application requirements for horizontal well sites throughout the buckeye state. The rules adopted on July 16 will require careful project planning from an oil and gas producers’ team to minimize schedule and budget impacts on new well pad projects.

Designed in response to the rapid increase in horizontal well site construction in the Utica Shale play, these rules are designed to ensure the pad is built on a solid foundation that can handle the large scale vehicles and equipment drillers use. They’re also intended to minimize environmental impact by controlling the release of any sediment or pollution caused by construction and post-construction activities.

What is required?

Any organization proposing a new horizontal well pad after July 16, 2015, must submit a detailed application to the ODNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management. The application must include:

  • Detailed site plans sealed by a professional engineer,
  • An erosion and sediment control plan,
  • Dust control plan,
  • Geotechnical report,
  • Stormwater hydraulic report,
  • Emergency release conveyance map, and
  • Well site boundary GIS files.

After ODNR receives the application, it will review it and conduct an on-site field visit to ensure environmental compliance.

Once the application is approved, construction can begin, but the oversight process will not end there. ODNR regional engineering staff will conduct inspections of the site throughout construction to ensure compliance with the permit and approved plans. In addition, oil and gas producers will need to submit the site for certification after it is constructed before drilling can commence.

How will this impact well pad projects?

For HRG’s clients, the impact will not be significant. Though the permit application requires oil and gas producers to submit documentation that was not requested before, HRG has been performing the analysis behind this documentation all along (even before it was required by law), as part of our commitment to the highest quality plans for our clients. (Due, in part, to this effort, ODNR staff have stated that our plans are typically more thorough in design and presentation than other firms’, which helps our clients achieve faster approvals.)

Because we have ample experience meeting similar permitting requirements in neighboring states, we are very skilled at coordinating the required investigations and reporting while maintaining the tight timeframes our clients require.

If you have questions about the new rules for horizontal well pad construction, please contact our lead engineer for oil and gas projects, Steve Lyncha, or our lead environmental specialist in Ohio, Jim Gue.


Steve LynchaSteve Lyncha, P.E., has overseen the design and permitting of dozens of well pad sites throughout Pennsylvania and Ohio. His responsibilities on these projects included designing the site and coordinating all activities associated with the permit application process, including environmental investigations and water sampling.

GueJim Gue spent 29 years of his career ensuring environmental compliance as a member of ODNR’s staff. This experience gives him ample insight into the agency’s approval process. He also has extensive experience in the private sector conducting environmental investigations as part of the site design process for dozens of well pad construction projects in Ohio and Western PA.