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Oil, gas well permit fees to increase

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The state Department of Environmental Protection is changing the way it charges fees for new oil and gas well permits, a move expected to raise $4.7 million per year.

The new fees take effect Saturday, according to a DEP news release. The increased revenue will support new information technology projects related to oil and gas, including streamlining electronic review, mobile digital inspections, upgrades to reporting systems and modernization of forms and databases. It also will be used to increase Office of Oil and Gas Management staff for inspections, policy and program writing, and permitting.

The DEP’s Environmental Quality Board adopted the new fees as part of a rule change. The fees for unconventional wells will be $5,000 for nonvertical natural-gas wells and $4,200 for vertical natural-gas wells. Prior to the rulemaking, the fee varied and was charged based on well bore length, according to DEP.

As a result of this change, the permit fee for an average unconventional well will increase by about $1,800 per nonvertical natural-gas well and $1,300 per vertical natural gas well. The permit fees for conventional oil and gas well operators will remain the same, according to DEP.

“By law, the oil and gas well permit fee must bear a reasonable relationship to the cost of administering DEP’s oil and gas programs,” the release states. “Department regulations require DEP to evaluate the appropriateness of the fee every three years.”

The last fee increase was Oct. 24, 2009, when it went from $100 to a sliding scale based on well-bore length, according to the release.

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