The Mission Change Whitepaper: A Glimpse Into Future Rulemakings in Colorado

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November 12, 2019
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On November 1st, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (“COGCC”) released its Mission Change Whitepaper (click here for the full text).  It provides a broad overview of possible future rulemakings after the passage of Senate Bill 19-181, which changed the mission of the COGCC from “foster[ing] the responsible, balanced development” to “regulat[ing] the development and production” of oil and gas resources. 

While not authoritative, the Whitepaper is intended to facilitate meaningful discussion on new rule development.  Some of the major proposals are as follows:
  • The 300-Series Rules addressing drilling, development, production and abandonment should be revised to provide for a single, comprehensive application covering drilling and spacing units, surface location sites, wells, production facilities and flowlines.  The decision-making power on applications may switch from the Director to the COGCC.  Notice procedures may also be streamlined to provide more parties with pre-application notice.
  • The 500-Series Rules addressing practice and procedure may be modified to provide the opportunity for a hearing to all “affected persons,” being those parties having “a personal justiciable interest related to a legal right, duty, privilege, power, or economic interest affected by an application.”  The revised rule would outline criteria that the COGCC would consider in determining whether a party should be deemed an “affected person.” 
  • The 600-Series Rules addressing safety regulations may establish a process safety management program applicable to all oil and gas operations.  The current rule prohibiting unnecessary or excessive venting or flaring of natural gas, may be moved to the 600-Series and revised to prohibit venting and flaring from a well for more than 60 days from the date of first production.
The stakeholder meeting originally scheduled for November 7th was cancelled.  Instead, feedback is being sought through individual stakeholder meetings and from comments submitted though the Public Comment Portal, found here.
If you have questions on how upcoming rulemakings could affect your operations, please contact the authors of this alert.