Nevada drafts hydraulic fracturing regulations

In January 2014, the Nevada Commission on Mineral Resources and the Division of Minerals proposed regulations to manage hydraulic fracturing and to establish procedures for water quality sampling. These proposed regulations are a result of Nevada’s Governor signing Senate Bill 390 in June 2013, which requires regulations to implement a hydraulic fracturing program by January 1, 2015.

Under the proposed regulations, for the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing, the operator must insure that only chemicals listed on the Division’s website are used unless an exception is requested at least 30 days in advance of the activity and approved. To obtain an exception, the operator must file a sundry notice that specifically describes all aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process, including the number of stages to be utilized, the measured depth/true vertical depth below land surface to each stage, the length of each state, all intervals to be perforated in measured depth/true vertical depth below land surface, the number and diameter of perforations per foot, and the estimated hydraulic pressures to be utilized. Within 60 days of completion of the hydraulic fracturing operation, all chemicals used must be identified by amount and type on the website.

The proposed regulations require initial baseline samples and subsequent monitoring samples from all available water resources, up to a maximum of four, within a one mile radius of the hydraulically fractured well (designated the “Area of Review”). The initial sampling must take place within 12 months of the hydraulic fracturing operation, and the subsequent samplings must be taken between 6 and 12 months and then between 60 and 72 months. With the drilling permit application for a well that is to be hydraulically fracked, the operator must submit the location of each water source within the Area of Review, maps denoting surface and subsurface geology including location of known or suspected faults, a map showing the location of all known water sources within the area, and the source and estimated volume of water required for each well hydraulic fracturing process.

At the well site, flowback or produced water is required to be enclosed in steel tanks and cannot be moved for final disposal until the Division approves. Additional casing and cementing requirements are also included in these proposals.

For the spring of 2014, the Division and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection are planning workshops and a public hearing to develop and discuss a program for hydraulic fracturing and to gather public and industry recommendations and comments concerning the proposed regulations.

This post was written by Barclay Nicholson ( or 713.651.3662) from Norton Rose Fulbright's Energy Practice Group.