(1) All operations will conform to the best practice and
engineering principles in use in the industry. Operations shall be conducted in
such manner as to
protect the natural resources on the leased lands, including without limitation
geothermal resources, and to result in the maximum ultimate recovery of
geothermal resources with a minimum of waste, and be consistent with the
principles of the use of the land for other purposes and of the protection of the environment.
(a) Lessee shall use all reasonable means
at his disposal to prevent:
(ii) damage to any natural resource including trees and other vegetation, fish and wildlife and their habitat;
(iii) injury and damage to person, real or
personal property; and
(iv) any environmental pollution or damage.
(b) The department shall have the right to enter upon the property at any time to:
(i) inspect the lessee's operation and issue such orders as are necessary to accomplish the purposes of these rules;
(ii) enter on the property to repair damages or prevent waste at the lessee's expense.
(2) A geothermal lessee shall reclaim any and all lands disturbed by operations conducted under his lease. At the
completion of the operations, and upon the final abandonment and completion of
plugging of any well, the lessee shall restore the surface of the location to
its original contours as near as reasonably possible, redistribute the topsoil,
and reseed the land with native grasses and/or plants as prescribed by the
(a) All available topsoil on land involved
in an operation shall be removed before further disturbance occurs. Topsoil
removal shall precede each step of the operation.
(b) Stockpiles of salvaged topsoil shall be
located in an area where they will not be disturbed by ongoing operations and
will not be lost to wind erosion or surface runoff. All unnecessary compaction
and contamination of the stockpiles shall be eliminated and once stockpiled the
topsoil shall not be rehandled until replaced on regraded disturbances. The
department may require immediate planting of an annual and/or perennial crop on
topsoil stockpiles for the purposes of stabilization.
(c) Stockpiled topsoil shall be replaced on
all areas to be seeded within a 90 days period prior to revegetative seeding or
planting. Extreme care shall be exercised to guard against erosion during
application and thereafter.
(d) A suitable permanent
diverse vegetative cover shall be established on all areas of land affected.
Areas shall be planted or seeded during the first appropriate season following
completion of grading, topsoil redistribution, and remedial soil treatments.
(i) An operator shall
establish a permanent diverse vegetative cover or predominantly native species
by drill seeding or planting, by seedling transplants, by establishing sod
plugs, and/or by other methods. All methods must have prior approval by the
(ii) The operator shall utilize locally grown genotypical seed
and seedlings when available in sufficient quality and quantity.
(iii) The operator shall
plant seed of a pure and viable nature. Unless otherwise approved by the
department, seed shall be at least 90% pure. Seeding rates shall reflect
(e) The operator may propose alternative plans for revegetation including, but not limited to,
agriculture crops. Alternative plans must have prior written approval from the
(f) The operator shall
consider soil, climate, and other relevant factors when planting and/or seeding
to provide for the best seed germination and plant survival.
(3) If development of
lands leased pursuant to these rules and regulations requires the utilization
of water, the lessee may at any time prior to 1 year before the expiration of
his lease, make written application to the board of land commissioners for
permission to secure a water right to the leased land. The application shall
show the permanency of the water supply and the estimated costs of utilizing
it. If permission is granted, the water right shall be secured in the name of
the state of Montana. Any existing water rights purchased by the lessee shall
be the property of the lessee.
(4) On or before the last
day of each month each holder of a producing geothermal resources lease shall
make a report to the department for the preceding calendar month on a form
prescribed by the department. The report shall show the amount of geothermal
resources or by-products produced, saved, sold or utilized during the
preceding month, the prices obtained, the total amount of all sales and
additional information as may be required on the reporting form. The reports shall
be signed by the lessee or some responsible person having knowledge of the
facts reported, and shall be accompanied by payment of the amount due the state
as royalty for the month covered by the report.
(5) Prior to initiation of operations to
drill a well to 1,000 feet or deeper, lessee shall submit to the director for
his approval, a plan of operations. Such plan shall include both in narrative
form and on a map of suitable scale:
(a) the proposed location of each well
including a layout showing the position of the mud tanks, reserve pits, cooling
towers, pipe racks, etc.;
(b) existing and planned access, access
controls, and lateral roads;
(c) location and source of water supply and road building materials;
(d) location of camp sites, air-strips, and other supporting facilities;
(e) other areas of potential surface disturbance;
(f) the topographic features of the land and the drainage patterns;
(g) methods of disposing of waste material;
(h) a narrative statement describing the
proposed measures to be taken for protection of the environment, including but
not limited to the prevention or control of fires, soil erosion, pollution of
the surface and groundwater, damage to fish and wildlife or other natural
resources, air and noise pollution, and hazards to public health and safety
during the lease activities;
(i) all pertinent information or data which
the director may require to support the plan of operations for the utilization
of geothermal resources and the protection of the environment.
(6) (a) All wells drilled on state lands
leased for geothermal purposes shall be identified by a conspicuous sign
placed near the well, showing the name of the person drilling the well, the
name of the lessee, the number of the lease, and the number of the well, if
(b) This sign shall remain until the well
has been abandoned and all requirements of this rule have been satisfied.
(7) (a) The objectives of abandonment are to
block interzonal migration of fluids so as to:
(i) prevent contamination of fresh waters or other natural resources;
(ii) prevent damage to geothermal reservoirs;
(iii) prevent loss of reservoir energy; and,
(iv) protect life, health, environment and property.
(b) Notice of intent to abandon any
geothermal resources well, prospect well or injection well must be filed with
the department at least 5 days before abandonment begins. After notice has been
given, the lessee shall submit additional information concerning the well as
is requested by the department.
(c) Upon prior approval
by the department, a well may be left intact for development and use of water
if the objectives of (7) (a) are met.
(8) (a) Good quality heavy
drilling fluids shall be used to replace any water in the hole and to fill all
portions of the hole not plugged with cement.
(b) All cement plugs with
the possible exception of the surface plug shall be pumped into the hole
through drill pipe or tubing.
open annuli shall be filled solid with cement to the surface.
(d) A minimum of 100 feet of cement shall be emplaced straddling the interface or transition zones at the
base of ground water aquifers.
(e) One hundred feet of cement shall straddle the placement of the shoe plug on all
casings including conductor pipe.
(f) A surface plug of either neat cement or concrete mix shall be in place from the top of the casing
to at least 50 feet below the top of the casing.
(g) All casing shall be cut off at least 5 feet below land surface.
(h) Cement plugs shall extend at least 50 feet over the top of any liner installed
in the well.
(i) Other abandonment
procedures may be approved by the department if the lessee or operator can
demonstrate that the geothermal resources, ground waters and other natural
resources will be protected. Such approval must be given in writing prior to
the beginning of any abandonment procedures.
(j) A history of
geothermal resource wells, prospect wells and injection wells shall, at the
request of the department, be filed with the department within 60 days after
completion of abandonment procedures.
(i) Pertinent history
data shall be for the exclusive use of the department and other state agencies
involved in geothermal research and regulation, and shall remain confidential
for a period of 2 years following submission of the history unless approved in
writing earlier by the person who submitted such data.
(k) Within 30 days after
the completion of the abandonment of any geothermal resources well, prospect
well, or injection well, the lessee or operator of the abandoned well shall
report in writing to the department on all work done with respect to the
(9) Any person engaged in
operating a well wherein high pressures are known to exist and any person
drilling for geothermal resources in any geothermal area wherein the pressures
are unknown shall equip such well with casing of sufficient strength seated in
competent rock formation and cemented in
place and with such other safety devices as may be
necessary in accordance with approved methods, and shall use every reasonable
effort to prevent blow-outs, explosions, and fires from such well
(10) These rules in no way excuse the lessee of the obligation to comply with and
be subject in all aspects to the conditions, limitations, penalties, and
provisions of the laws of the state of Montana and the rules of the board, the
department of natural RESOURCES, the department of environmental quality, and
all other applicable federal, state and local laws, now existing or hereinafter