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State
Washington
Chapter 78.52 RCW Oil and gas conservation



Notes:
Franchises on county roads and bridges: Chapter 36.55 RCW.
Gas and hazardous liquid pipelines: Chapter 81.88 RCW.

Interstate oil compact commission, governor may join: RCW 43.06.015.

Oil or natural gas exploration in marine waters: RCW 90.58.550.




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78.52.001
Declaration of purpose.
It is hereby declared to be in the public interest to foster, encourage, and promote the exploration, development, production, and utilization of oil and gas in the state in such manner as will prevent waste; to authorize and to provide for the operation and development of oil and gas properties in such manner as to assure that the maximum economic recovery of oil and gas may be obtained and the rights of owners thereof fully protected; to conduct such oil and gas operations in a manner that will maintain a safe and healthful environment for the people of Washington and protect the state's natural resources; and to encourage, authorize, and provide for cycling, recycling, pressure maintenance and secondary recovery operations in order that the maximum economic recovery of oil and gas may be obtained to the end that landowners, royalty owners, producers, and the general public may realize and enjoy the greatest possible benefits from these vital resources.


[1983 c 253 1; 1951 c 146 1.]




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78.52.010
Definitions.
For the purposes of this chapter, unless the text otherwise requires, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) "Certificate of clearance" means a permit prescribed by the department for the transportation or the delivery of oil, gas, or product.

(2) "Department" means the department of natural resources.

(3) "Development unit" means the maximum area of a pool which may be drained efficiently and economically by one well.

(4) "Division order" means an instrument showing percentage of royalty or rental divisions among royalty owners.

(5) "Fair and reasonable share of the production" means, as to each separately-owned tract or combination of tracts, that part of the authorized production from a pool that is substantially in the proportion that the amount of recoverable oil or gas under the development unit of that separately-owned tract or tracts bears to the recoverable oil or gas or both in the total of the development units in the pool.

(6) "Field" means the general area which is underlaid by at least one pool and includes the underground reservoir or reservoirs containing oil or gas, or both. The words "field" and "pool" mean the same thing when only one underground reservoir is involved; however, "field," unlike "pool," may relate to two or more pools.

(7) "Gas" means all natural gas, all gaseous substances, and all other fluid or gaseous hydrocarbons not defined as oil in subsection (12) of this section, including but not limited to wet gas, dry gas, residue gas, condensate, and distillate, as those terms are generally understood in the petroleum industry.

(8) "Illegal oil" or "illegal gas" means oil or gas that has been produced from any well within the state in violation of this chapter or any rule or order of the department.

(9) "Illegal product" means any product derived in whole or part from illegal oil or illegal gas.

(10) "Interested person" means a person with an ownership, basic royalty, or leasehold interest in oil or gas within an existing or proposed development unit or unitized pool.

(11) "Lessee" means the lessee under an oil and gas lease, or the owner of any land or mineral rights who has the right to conduct or carry on any oil and gas development, exploration and operation thereon, or any person so operating for himself, herself, or others.

(12) "Oil" means crude petroleum, oil, and all hydrocarbons, regardless of gravity, that are in the liquid phase in the original reservoir conditions and are produced and recovered at the wellhead in liquid form.

(13) "Operator" means the person who operates a well or unit or who has been designated or accepted by the owners to operate the well or unit, and who is responsible for compliance with the department's rules and policies.

(14) "Owner" means the person who has the right to develop, operate, drill into, and produce from a pool and to appropriate the oil or gas that he or she produces therefrom, either for that person or for that person and others.

(15) "Person" means any natural person, corporation, association, partnership, receiver, trustee, executor, administrator, guardian, fiduciary, or representative of any kind and includes any governmental or political subdivision or any agency thereof.

(16) "Pool" means an underground reservoir containing a common accumulation of oil or gas, or both. Each zone of a structure which is completely separated from any other zone in the same structure such that the accumulations of oil or gas are not common with each other is considered a separate pool and is covered by the term "pool" as used in this chapter.

(17) "Pooling" means the integration or combination of two or more tracts into an area sufficient to constitute a development unit of the size for one well as prescribed by the department.

(18) "Product" means any commodity made from oil or gas.

(19) "Protect correlative rights" means that the action or regulation by the department should afford a reasonable opportunity to each person entitled thereto to recover or receive without causing waste his or her fair and reasonable share of the oil and gas in this tract or tracts or its equivalent.

(20) "Royalty" means a right to or interest in oil or gas or the value from or attributable to production, other than the right or interest of a lessee, owner, or operator, as defined herein. Royalty includes, but is not limited to the basic royalty in a lease, overriding royalty, and production payments. Any such interest may be referred to in this chapter as "royalty" or "royalty interest." As used in this chapter "basic royalty" means the royalty reserved in a lease. "Royalty owner" means a person who owns a royalty interest.

(21) "Supervisor" means the state oil and gas supervisor.

(22) "Unitization" means the operation of all or part of a field or reservoir as a single entity for operating purposes.

(23) "Waste" in addition to its ordinary meaning, means and includes:

(a) "Physical waste" as that term is generally understood in the petroleum industry;

(b) The inefficient, excessive, or improper use of, or unnecessary dissipation of, reservoir energy, and the locating, spacing, drilling, equipping, operating, or producing of any oil or gas well in a manner which results or is probable to result in reducing the quantity of oil or gas to be recovered from any pool in this state under operations conducted in accordance with prudent and proper practices or that causes or tends to cause unnecessary wells to be drilled;

(c) The inefficient above-ground storage of oil, and the locating, spacing, drilling, equipping, operating, or producing of any oil or gas well in a manner causing or tending to cause unnecessary or excessive surface loss or destruction of oil or gas;

(d) The production of oil or gas in such manner as to cause unnecessary water channeling, or coning;

(e) The operation of an oil well with an inefficient gas-oil ratio;

(f) The drowning with water of any pool or part thereof capable of producing oil or gas, except insofar as and to the extent authorized by the department;

(g) Underground waste;

(h) The creation of unnecessary fire hazards;

(i) The escape into the open air, from a well producing oil or gas, of gas in excess of the amount which is reasonably necessary in the efficient development or production of the well;

(j) The use of gas for the manufacture of carbon black, except as provided in RCW 78.52.140;

(k) Production of oil and gas in excess of the reasonable market demand;

(l) The flaring of gas from gas wells except that which is necessary for the drilling, completing, or testing of the well; and

(m) The unreasonable damage to natural resources including but not limited to the destruction of the surface, soils, wildlife, fish, or aquatic life from or by oil and gas operations.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 809; 1983 c 253 2; 1951 c 146 3.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.025
Hearings and meetings of department.
The department shall hold hearings or meetings at such times and places as may be found by the department to be necessary to carry out its duties. The department may establish its own rules for the conduct of public hearings or meetings consistent with other applicable law.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 810; 1983 c 253 3; 1951 c 146 5. Formerly RCW 78.52.060.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.030
Employment of personnel.
The department shall employ all personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 811; 1951 c 146 6.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.031
Conduct of hearings Evidence.
The department may subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and require the production of records, books, and documents for examination at any hearing or investigation conducted by it. No person shall be excused from attending and testifying, or from producing books, papers, and records before the department or a court, or from obedience to the subpoena of the department or a court, on the ground or for the reason that the testimony or evidence, documentary or otherwise, required of the person may tend to incriminate the person or subject the person to a penalty or forfeiture: PROVIDED, That nothing herein contained shall be construed as requiring any person to produce any books, papers, or records, or to testify in response to any inquiry not pertinent to some question lawfully before the department or court for determination. No person shall be subjected to criminal prosecution or to any penalty or forfeiture for or on account of any transaction, matter, or thing concerning which, in spite of his or her objection, he or she may be required to testify or produce evidence, documentary or otherwise before the department or court, or in obedience to its subpoena: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That no person testifying shall be exempt from prosecution and punishment for perjury committed in so testifying.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 812; 1983 c 253 5; 1951 c 146 7. Formerly RCW 78.52.080.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.032
Hearing examiners.
In addition to the powers and authority, either express or implied, granted to the department by virtue of the laws of this state, the department may, in prescribing its rules of order or procedure in connection with hearings or other proceedings before the department, provide for the appointment of one or more examiners to conduct a hearing or hearings with respect to any matter properly coming before the department and to make reports and recommendations to the department with respect thereto. Any employee of the department or any other person designated by the commissioner of public lands, or the supervisor when this power is so delegated, may serve as an examiner. The department shall adopt rules governing hearings to be conducted before examiners.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 813; 1983 c 253 10.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.033
Failure of witness to attend or testify Contempt.
In case of failure or refusal on the part of any person to comply with a subpoena issued by the department or in case of the refusal of any witness to testify as to any matter regarding which the witness may be interrogated, any superior court in the state, upon the application of the department, may compel the person to comply with such subpoena, and to attend before the department and produce such records, books, and documents for examination, and to give his or her testimony and shall have the power to punish for contempt as in the case of disobedience to a like subpoena issued by the court, or for refusal to testify therein.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 814; 1951 c 146 8. Formerly RCW 78.52.090.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.035
Attorney for department.
The attorney general shall be the attorney for the department, but in cases of emergency, the department may call upon the prosecuting attorney of the county where the action is to be brought, or defended, to represent the department until such time as the attorney general may take charge of the litigation.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 815; 1951 c 146 9. Formerly RCW 78.52.110.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.037
State oil and gas supervisor Deputy supervisors Employment of personnel.
The department shall designate a state oil and gas supervisor who shall be charged with duties as may be delegated by the department. The department may designate one or more deputy supervisors and employ all personnel necessary including the appointment of examiners as provided in RCW 78.52.032 to carry out this chapter and the rules and orders of the department.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 816; 1983 c 253 4.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.040
Duty and powers of department In general.
The department shall administer and enforce the provisions of this chapter by the adoption of policies, and all rules, regulations, and orders promulgated hereunder, and the department has jurisdiction, power, and authority, over all persons and property, public and private, necessary to enforce effectively such duty.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 817; 1983 c 253 6; 1951 c 146 10.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.045
Committee to participate in and administer federal Safe Drinking Water Act in conjunction with the departments of ecology, natural resources, and social and health services.
See RCW 43.21A.445.






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78.52.050
Rules, regulations, and orders Time and place of hearing Notices.
The department may make such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders as may be necessary from time to time for the proper administration and enforcement of this chapter. Unless otherwise required by law or by this chapter or by rules of procedure made under this chapter, the department may make such rules, regulations, and orders, after notice, as the basis therefor. The notice may be given by publication in some newspaper of general circulation in the state in a manner and form which may be prescribed by the department by general rule. The public hearing shall be at the time and in the manner and at the place prescribed by the department, and any person having any interest in the subject matter of the hearing shall be entitled to be heard. In addition, written notice shall be mailed to all interested persons who have requested, in writing, notice of department hearings, rulings, policies, and orders. The department shall establish and maintain a mailing list for this purpose. Substantial compliance with these mailing requirements is deemed compliance with this section.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 818; 1983 c 253 7; 1951 c 146 11.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.070
Hearing upon petition Time for action.
Any interested person shall have the right to have the department call a hearing for the purpose of taking action with respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the department by filing a verified written petition therefor, which shall state in substance the matter and reasons for and nature of the action requested. Upon receipt of any such request the department, if in its judgment a hearing is warranted and justifiable, shall promptly call a hearing thereon, and after such hearing, and with all convenient speed, and in any event within twenty days after the conclusion of such hearing, shall take such action with regard to the subject matter thereof as it may deem appropriate.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 819; 1951 c 146 12.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.100
Records Copies as evidence Copies to be furnished.
All rules, regulations, policies, and orders of the department, all petitions, copies of all notices and actions with affidavits of posting, mailing, or publications pertaining thereto, all findings of fact, and transcripts of all hearings shall be in writing and shall be entered in full by the department in the permanent official records of the office of the commissioner of public lands and shall be open for inspection at all times during reasonable office hours. A copy of any rule, regulation, policy, order, or other official records of the department, certified by the commissioner of public lands, shall be received in evidence in all courts of this state with the same effect as the original. The department is hereby required to furnish to any person upon request, copies of all rules, regulations, policies, orders, and amendments thereof.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 820; 1983 c 253 8; 1951 c 146 13.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.120
Drilling permit required Notice.
Any person desiring or proposing to drill any well in search of oil or gas, before commencing the drilling of any such well, shall apply to the department upon such form as the department may prescribe, and shall pay to the state treasurer a fee of the following amounts for each application:

(1) For each well the estimated depth of which is three thousand five hundred feet or less, two hundred fifty dollars;

(2) From three thousand five hundred one feet to seven thousand feet, five hundred dollars;

(3) From seven thousand one feet to twelve thousand feet, seven hundred fifty dollars; and

(4) From twelve thousand one feet and deeper, one thousand dollars.

In addition, as pertains to the tract upon which the well is proposed to be located, the applicant must notify the surface landowner, the landowner's tenant, and other surface users in the manner provided by regulations of the department that a drilling permit has been applied for by furnishing each such surface landowner, tenant, and other users with a copy of the application concurrent with the filing of the application. Within fifteen days of receipt of the application, each such surface landowner, the landowner's tenant, and other surface users have the right to inform the department of objections or comments as to the proposed use of the surface by the applicant, and the department shall consider the objections or comments.

The drilling of any well is prohibited until a permit is given and such fee has been paid as provided in this section. The department may prescribe that the said form indicate the exact location of such well, the name and address of the owner, operator, contractor, driller, and any other person responsible for the conduct of drilling operations, the proposed depth of the well, the elevation of the well above sea level, and such other relevant and reasonable information as the department may deem necessary or convenient to effectuate the purposes of this chapter.

The department shall issue a permit if it finds that the proposed drilling will be consistent with this chapter, the rules and orders adopted under it, and is not detrimental to the public interest. The department shall impose conditions and restrictions as necessary to protect the public interest and to ensure compliance with this chapter, and the rules and orders adopted by the department. A person shall not apply to drill a well in search of oil or gas unless that person holds an ownership or contractual right to locate and operate the drilling operations upon the proposed drilling site. A person shall not be issued a permit unless that person prima facie holds an ownership or contractual right to drill to the proposed depth, or proposed horizon. Proof of prima facie ownership shall be presented to the department.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 821; 1983 c 253 11; 1951 c 146 14.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.125
Environmental impact statement required when drilling affects surface waters of the state Drilling may be denied, when.
Any person desiring or proposing to drill any well in search of oil or gas, when such drilling would be conducted through or under any surface waters of the state, shall prepare and submit an environmental impact statement upon such form as the department of ecology shall prescribe at least one hundred and twenty days prior to commencing the drilling of any such well. Within ninety days after receipt of such environmental statement the department of ecology shall prepare and submit to the department of natural resources a report examining the potential environmental impact of the proposed well and recommendations for department action thereon. If after consideration of the report the department determines that the proposed well is likely to have a substantial environmental impact the drilling permit for such well may be denied.

The department shall require sufficient safeguards to minimize the hazards of pollution of all surface and ground waters of the state. If safeguards acceptable to the department cannot be provided the drilling permit shall be denied.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 822; 1971 ex.s. c 180 8.]

Notes: Reviser's note: The definitions of RCW 90.56.010 apply to this section. Funds for the purposes of carrying out this section are provided from the coastal protection fund, RCW 90.48.390 and 90.48.400. The authority and enforcement of rules pertaining to this section are covered in RCW 90.56.050 and 90.56.900.

Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.


Severability -- Short title -- Construction -- 1971 ex.s. c 180: See RCW 90.48.903, 90.48.906, and 90.56.900.







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78.52.130
Waste prohibited.
Waste of oil and gas, as defined in this chapter, is prohibited.


[1951 c 146 15.]




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78.52.140
Carbon black and carbon products Permit required.
The use of gas from a well producing gas only, or from a well which is primarily a gas well, for the manufacture of carbon black or similar products predominantly carbon, is declared to constitute waste prima facie, and such gas well shall not be used for any such purpose unless it is clearly shown, at a public hearing to be held by the department, on application of the person desiring to use such gas, that waste would not take place by the use of such gas for the purpose or purposes applied for, and that gas which would otherwise be lost is not available for such purpose or purposes, and that the gas to be used cannot be used for a more beneficial purpose, such as for light or fuel purposes, except at prohibitive cost, and that it would be in the public interest to grant such permit. If the department finds that the applicant has clearly shown a right to use such gas for the purpose or purposes applied for, it shall issue a permit upon such terms and conditions as may be found necessary in order to permit the use of the gas, and at the same time require compliance with the intent of this section.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 823; 1951 c 146 16.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.150
Investigations authorized.
The department shall make such investigations as it may deem proper to determine whether waste exists or is imminent or whether other facts exist which justify action by the department.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 824; 1951 c 146 17.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.155
Investigations Powers and duties.
(1) The department shall make investigations as necessary to carry out this chapter.

(2) The department shall require:

(a) Identification of ownership of oil or gas wells, producing leases, tanks, plants, structures, and facilities for the transportation or refining of oil or gas;

(b) The making and filing of well logs, core samples, directional surveys, and reports on well locations, drilling, and production;

(c) The testing of oil and gas wells;

(d) The drilling, casing, operating, and plugging of wells in such a manner as to prevent the escape of oil or gas out of the casings, or out of one pool into another, the intrusion of water into an oil or gas pool, and the pollution of freshwater supplies by oil, gas, or saltwater and to prevent blowouts, cavings, see pages, and fires;

(e) The furnishing of adequate security acceptable to the department, conditioned on the performance of the duty to plug each dry or abandoned well, the duty to reclaim and clean-up well drilling sites, the duty to repair wells causing waste, the duty to comply with all applicable laws and rules adopted by the department, orders of the department, all permit conditions, and this chapter;

(f) The operation of wells with efficient gas-oil and water-oil ratios and may fix these ratios and limit production from wells with inefficient gas-oil or water-oil ratios;

(g) The production of oil and gas from wells be accurately measured by means and upon standards prescribed by the department, and that every person who produces, sells, purchases, acquires, stores, transports, treats, or processes oil or gas in this state keeps and maintains for a period of five years within this state complete and accurate records thereof, which records shall be available for examination by the department or its agents at all reasonable times, and that every person file with the department such reports as it may prescribe with respect to the oil or gas; and

(h) Compliance with all applicable laws and rules of this state.

(3) The department shall regulate:

(a) The drilling, producing, locating, spacing, and plugging of wells and all other operations for the production of oil or gas;

(b) The physical, mechanical, and chemical treatment of wells, and the perforation of wells;

(c) Operations to increase ultimate recovery such as cycling of gas, the maintenance of pressure, and the introduction of gas, water, or other substances into producing formations;

(d) Disposal of saltwater and oil field brines;

(e) The storage, processing, and treatment of natural gas and oil produced within this state; and

(f) Reclamation and clean-up of all well sites and any areas directly affected by the drilling, production, operation, and plugging of oil and gas wells.

(4) The department may limit and prorate oil and gas produced in this state and may restrict future production of oil and gas from any pool in such amounts as will offset and compensate for any production determined by the department to be in excess of or in violation of "oil allowable" or "gas allowable."

(5) The department shall classify wells as oil or gas wells for purposes material to the interpretation or enforcement of this chapter.

(6) The department shall regulate oil and gas exploration and drilling activities so as to prevent or remedy unreasonable or excessive waste or surface destruction.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 825; 1983 c 253 9.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.200
Development units authorized for known pools.
When necessary to prevent waste, to avoid the drilling of unnecessary wells, or to protect correlative rights including those of royalty owners, the department, upon its own motion or upon application of interested persons, shall establish development units covering any known pool. Development units shall be of uniform size and shape for the entire pool unless the department finds that it must make an exception due to geologic, geographic, or other factors. When necessary, the department may divide any pool into zones and establish development units for each zone, which units may differ in size and shape from those established in any other zone.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 826; 1983 c 253 12; 1951 c 146 22.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.205
Development units to be prescribed for pool after discovery Temporary development units.
Within sixty days after the discovery of oil or gas in a pool not then covered by an order of the department, a hearing shall be held and the department shall issue an order prescribing development units for the pool. If sufficient geological or other scientific data from drilling operations or other evidence is not available to determine the maximum area that can be efficiently and economically drained by one well, the department may establish temporary development units to ensure the orderly development of the pool pending availability of the necessary data. A temporary order shall continue in force for a period of not more than twenty-four months at the expiration of which time, or upon the petition of an affected person, the department shall require the presentation of such geological, scientific, drilling, or other evidence as will enable it to determine the proper development units in the pool. During the interim period between the discovery and the issuance of the temporary order, permits shall not be issued for the drilling of direct offsets to a discovery well.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 827; 1983 c 253 13.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.210
Development units Size and shape.
(1) The size and the shape of any development units shall be such as will result in the efficient and economical development of the pool as a whole, and the size shall not be smaller than the maximum area that can be efficiently and economically drained by one well as determined by competent geological, geophysical, engineering, drilling, or other scientific testimony, data, and evidence. The department shall fix a development unit of not more than one hundred sixty acres for any pool deemed by the department to be an oil reservoir, or of six hundred forty acres for any pool deemed by the department to be a gas reservoir, plus a ten percent tolerance in either case to allow for irregular sections. The department may, at its discretion, after notice and hearing, establish development units for oil and gas in variance of these limitations when competent geological, geophysical, engineering, drilling, or other scientific testimony, data, and evidence is presented and upon a finding that one well can efficiently and economically drain a larger or smaller area and is justified because of technical, economic, environmental, or safety considerations.

(2) The department may establish development units of different sizes or shapes for different parts of a pool or may grant exceptions to the size or shapes of any development unit or units. Where development units of different sizes or shapes exist in a pool, the department shall, if necessary, make such adjustments to the allowable production from the well or wells drilled thereon so that each operator in each development unit will have a reasonable opportunity to produce or receive his or her just and equitable share of the production.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 828; 1983 c 253 14; 1951 c 146 23.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.220
Development units Location of well.
An order establishing development units for a pool shall specify the size and shape of each area and the location of the permitted well thereon in accordance with a reasonable uniform spacing plan. Upon application and after notice and a hearing, if the department finds that a well drilled at the prescribed location would not produce in paying quantities, or that surface conditions would substantially add to the burden or hazard of drilling such well, the department may enter an order permitting the well to be drilled pursuant to permit at a location other than that prescribed by such development order; however, the department shall include in the order suitable provisions to prevent the production from the development unit of more than its just and equitable share of the oil and gas in the pool.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 829; 1983 c 253 15; 1951 c 146 24.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.230
Development units Order must cover entire pool Modifications.
An order establishing development units for a pool shall cover all lands determined or believed to be underlaid by such pool, and may be modified by the department from time to time to include additional areas determined to be underlaid by such pool. When the department determines that it is necessary for the prevention of waste, or to avoid the drilling of unnecessary wells, or to protect correlative rights, an order establishing development units in a pool may be modified by the department to increase or decrease the size of development units in the pool or to permit the drilling of additional wells on a reasonably uniform plan in the pool.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 830; 1983 c 253 16; 1951 c 146 25.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.240
Development units Pooling of interests.
When two or more separately-owned tracts are embraced within a development unit, or when there are separately owned interests in all or a part of the development unit, then the owners and lessees thereof may pool their interests for the development and operation of the development unit. In the absence of this voluntary pooling, the department, upon the application of any interested person, shall enter an order pooling all interests, including royalty interests, in the development unit for the development and operation thereof. Each such pooling order shall be made after notice and hearing. The applicant or applicants shall have the burden of proving that all reasonable efforts have been made to obtain the consent of, or to reach agreement with, other owners.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 831; 1983 c 253 17; 1951 c 146 26.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.245
Pooling order Allocation of production.
A pooling order shall be upon terms and conditions that are fair and reasonable and that afford to each owner and royalty owner his or her fair and reasonable share of production. Production shall be allocated as follows:

(1) For the purpose of determining the portions of production owned by the persons owning interests in the pooled unit, the production shall be allocated to the respective tracts within the unit in the proportion that the surface acres in each tract bear to the number of surface acres included in the entire unit.

(2) Notwithstanding subsection (1) of this section, if the department finds that allocation on a surface acreage basis does not allocate to each tract its fair share, the department shall allocate the production so that each tract will receive its fair share.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 832; 1983 c 253 18.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.250
Pooled interests in well in development unit Allocation of costs Rights of owners.
(1) Each such pooling order shall make provision for the drilling and operation of a well on the development unit, and for the payment of the reasonable actual cost thereof by the owners of interests required to pay such costs in the development unit, plus a reasonable charge for supervision and storage facilities. Costs associated with production from the pooled unit shall be allocated in the same manner as is production in RCW 78.52.245. In the event of any dispute as to such costs the department shall determine the proper costs.

(2) As to each owner who fails or refuses to agree to bear his or her proportionate share of the costs of the drilling and operation of the well, the order shall provide for reimbursement of those persons paying for the drilling and operation of the well of the nonconsenting owner's share of the costs from, and only from, production from the unit representing that person's interest, excluding royalty or other interests not obligated to pay any part of the cost thereof. The department may provide that the consenting owners shall own and be entitled to receive all production from the well after payment of the royalty as provided in the lease, if any, applicable to each tract or interest, and obligations payable from production, until the consenting owners have been paid the amount due under the terms of the pooling order or order settling any dispute.

The order shall determine the interest of each owner in the unit and shall provide that each consenting owner is entitled to receive, subject to royalty or similar obligations, the share of the production of the well applicable to the owner's interest in the unit, and, unless the owner has agreed otherwise, his or her proportionate part of the nonconsenting owner's share of the production until costs are recovered as provided in this subsection. Each nonconsenting owner is entitled to receive, subject to royalty or similar obligations, the share of production from the well applicable to the owner's interest in the unit after the consenting owners have recovered from the nonconsenting owner's share of production the following:

(a) In respect to every such well, one hundred percent of the nonconsenting owner's share of the cost of surface equipment beyond the wellhead connections, including but not limited to, stock tanks, separators, treaters, pumping equipment, and piping, plus one hundred percent of the nonconsenting owner's share of the cost of operation of the well, commencing with first production and continuing until the consenting owners have recovered these costs, with the intent that the nonconsenting owner's share of these costs and equipment will be that interest which would have been chargeable to the nonconsenting owner had he or she initially agreed to pay his or her share of the costs of the well from the beginning of the operation;

(b) One hundred fifty percent of that portion of the costs and expenses of staking the location, well site preparation, rights of way, rigging-up, drilling, reworking, deepening or plugging back, testing, and completing, after deducting any cash contributions received by the consenting owners, and also one hundred fifty percent of that portion of the cost of equipment in the well, up to and including the wellhead connections; and

(c) If there is a dispute regarding the costs, the department shall determine the proper costs and their allocation among working interest owners after due notice to interested parties and a hearing on the costs.

(3) The operator of a well under a pooling order in which there are nonconsenting owners shall furnish the nonconsenting owners with monthly statements of all costs incurred, together with the quantity of oil or gas produced, and the amount of proceeds realized from the sale of this production during the preceding month. If and when the consenting owners recover from a nonconsenting owner's relinquished interest the amounts provided for in subsection (2) of this section, the relinquished interest of the nonconsenting owner shall automatically revert to him or her, and the nonconsenting owner shall own the same interest in the well and the production from it and be liable for the further costs of the operation as if he or she had participated in the initial drilling and operation.

(4) A nonconsenting owner of a tract in a development unit which is not subject to any lease or other contract for the development thereof for oil and gas shall elect within fifteen days of the issuance of the pooling order or such further time as the department shall, in the order, allow:

(a) To be treated as a nonconsenting owner as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section and is deemed to have a basic landowners' royalty of one-eighth, or twelve and one-half percent, of the production allocated to the tract, unless a higher basic royalty has been established in the development unit. If a higher royalty has been established, then the nonconsenting owner of a nonleased tract shall receive the higher basic royalty. This presumed royalty shall exist only during the time that costs and expenses are being recovered under subsection (2) of this section, and is intended to assure that the owner of a nonleased tract receive a basic royalty free of all costs at all times. Notwithstanding anything herein to the contrary, the owner shall at all times retain his or her entire ownership of the property, including the right to execute an oil and gas lease on any terms negotiated, and be entitled to all production subject to subsection (2) of this section; or

(b) To grant a lease to the operator at the current fair market value for that interest for comparable leases or interests at the time of the commencement of drilling; or

(c) To pay his or her pro rata share of the costs of the well or wells in the development unit and receive his or her pro rata share of production, if any.

A nonconsenting owner who does not make an election as provided in this subsection is deemed to have elected to be treated under (a) of this subsection.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 833; 1983 c 253 19; 1951 c 146 27.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.253
Pooling agreement, offer to pool, pooling order Fairness to nonconsenting, unleased owners.
A pooling agreement, offer to pool, or pooling order is not considered fair and reasonable as applied to nonconsenting, unleased owners only, if it provides for an operating agreement containing any of the following provisions:

(1) Preferential right of the operator to purchase mineral interests in the unit;

(2) A call on or option to purchase production from the unit;

(3) Operating charges that include any part of district or central office expense other than reasonable overhead charges; or

(4) Prohibition against nonoperators questioning the operation of the unit.


[1983 c 253 20.]




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78.52.255
Operations on development unit deemed operations on each tract Production allocated to tract deemed produced from each tract Shut-in well considered on each tract Lease on part of tract excluded from unit.
(1) Operations incident to the drilling of a well upon any portion of a development unit covered by a pooling order shall be deemed, for all purposes, the conduct of such operations upon each separately-owned tract in the development unit by the several owners thereof. That portion of the production allocated to each separately-owned tract included in a development unit covered by a pooling order shall, when produced, be deemed for all purposes, including the payment of royalty, to have been produced from each separately-owned tract by a well drilled thereon. If an oil or gas well on a pooled unit is shut-in, it shall be considered that the shut-in well is on each separately-owned tract in the pooled unit.

(2) If only part of the tract is included in the unit, operations on, production from, or a shut-in well on the unit shall maintain an oil and gas lease on the tract as to the part excluded from the unit only if the lease would be maintained had the unit been created voluntarily under the lease.


[1983 c 253 21.]




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78.52.257
Dissolution of pooling order Interests covered by terminated lease Modification or termination of pooling order Extension of dissolution of pooling order.
(1) An order pooling a development unit shall automatically dissolve:

(a) One year after its effective date if there has been no production of commercial quantities or drilling operations on lands within the unit;

(b) Six months after completion of a dry hole on the unit; or

(c) Six months after cessation of production of commercial quantities from the unit, unless, prior to the expiration of such six-month period, the operator shall, in good faith, commence drilling or reworking operations in an effort to restore production.

(2) Upon the termination of a lease pooled by order of the department under authority granted in this chapter, interests covered by the lease are considered pooled as unleased mineral interests.

(3) Any party to a pooling order is entitled, after due notice to all parties, to a hearing to modify or terminate a previously entered pooling order upon presenting new evidence showing that the previous determination of reservoir conclusions are substantially incorrect.

(4) The department, after notice and hearing, may grant additional time, for good cause shown, before a pooling order is automatically dissolved as provided in subsection (1) of this section. In no case may such an extension be longer than six months.


[1994 sp.s. c 9 834; 1983 c 253 22.]

Notes: Severability -- Headings and captions not law -- Effective date -- 1994 sp.s. c 9: See RCW 18.79.900 through 18.79.902.






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78.52.260
"Wildcat" or "exploratory" well data confidential.
Whenever the department requires the making and filing of well logs, directional surveys, or reports on the drilling of, subsurface conditions found in, or reports with respect to the substance produced, or capable of being produced from, a "wildcat" or "exploratory" well, as those terms are used in the petroleum industry, such logs, surveys, reports, or information shall be kept confidential by the department for a period of one year, if at the time of filing such logs, surveys, reports, or other information, the owner, lessee, or operator of such well requests that such information be kept confidential: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the department may divulge or use such information in a public hearing or suit when it is necessary for the enforcement of the provisions of this chapter or any rule, regulation, or order made hereunder. (continued)