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Oregon Drilling and Well Development (5-OR-a)

Drilling and Well Development Process

The Mineral Land Regulation & Reclamation webpage provides the links to the geothermal well, geothermal prospect well and Modification Application modification applications. Land use approval authority remains with the appropriate county and federal agencies.

5-OR-a.1 - Has the Environmental Process been Completed for drilling?

The environmental review process is predominately accomplished through the application circulation process referred to in 5-OR-a.6. The natural resource agencies provide comments intended to protect various interests to include environmental.

5-OR-a.2 - Environmental Review Process

The developer must make make sure to undergo an environmental process before drilling. For example, on BLM land, the BLM will not issue a drilling permit until the developer can show he or she has complied with NEPA. For similar ground-disturbing activities on state land or private land, the developer must comply with any state or local environmental regulations.

5-OR-a.3 - Has the Developer Secured the Water Rights Required to Divert and Use a Geothermal Resource <250F?

Geothermal Resources

The definition of geothermal resources means the natural heat of the earth, the energy, in whatever form, below the surface of the earth present in, resulting from, or created by, or that may be extracted from, the natural heat, and all minerals in solution or other products obtained from naturally heated fluids, brines, associated gases, and steam, in whatever form, found below the surface of the earth, exclusive of helium or of oil, hydrocarbon gas or other hydrocarbon substances, but including, specifically:

(a) all products of geothermal processes, including indigenous steam, hot water and hot brines;
(b) steam and other gases, hot water and hot brines resulting from water, gas or other fluids artificially introduced into geothermal formations;
(c) heat or other associated energy found in geothermal formations; and
(d) any by-product derived from them.

See ORS 522.005(11).

The provisions of the chapter relating to the location and drilling of any well for the production of geothermal resources do not apply to any wells producing geothermal resources on July 1, 1975, or wells, other than prospect wells, where:

(a) the geothermal fluids produced are of less than 250 degrees Fahrenheit bottom hole temperature; or (b) such fluids have been appropriated pursuant to ORS 537.505 to 537.795 and 537.992.

(2) The provisions of this chapter relating to regulation of production of geothermal resources from a geothermal reservoir apply only to wells with a bottom hole temperature of at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

(3) If the bottom hole temperature of a well that was initially at least 250 degrees Fahrenheit falls below 250 degrees Fahreheit, the State Geologist and the Water Resources Director, after consulting with the well owner, shall determine the agency with regulatory responsibility for that specific well.

See ORS 522.025.

5-OR-a.4 - Water Access/Rights Process

Water Access & Water Rights Issues:

5-OR-a.5 - Application, Fee, Location Map & Bond

ORS 522.115 contains the required content of a Geothermal Well Application.

The permit must contain:

  • location and elevation of the floor of the proposed derrick
  • the number or other designation approved by the department by which the well shall be known
  • the applicant's estimate of the depths to be drilled
  • the nature and character of the geothermal resource sought
  • a reclamation plan for the well pad
  • nonrefundable fee of $2,000

A nonrefundable renewal fee will be required on or before the anniversary of the issuance date of each active permit in the following amounts:

  • $1,500 for the first renewal year
  • $500 for each subsequent renewal year
  • $1,500 to modify the permit
  • $500 to transfer a permit
  • $1,000 to plug and decommission a geothermal well

The application must be submitted to the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.

5-OR-a.6 - Circulate to Other Natural Resources Agencies for Comment

Under ORS 522.125, the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries is required to circulate the permit to other agencies.

The application should be submitted to:

5-OR-a.7 - Provide Comment to DOGAMI

The agencies may suggest conditions under which a permit may be granted. The suggested conditions should be submitted to Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries within 45 days of the agency's receipt of the copy of the application.

5-OR-a.8 - Review Application Materials and Other Agency Comments; Impose Necessary Conditions

Under ORS 522.135, Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries must issue or deny the permit within 60 days of receipt of a complete application.

The State Geologist shall incorporate into the permit requirements:

5-OR-a.9 - Permit to Commence Drilling & Drilling Related Activities

Under ORS 522.135(5), Drilling, redrilling or deepening must begin within one year after the date of permit issuance or the permit shall expire. This term may be extended for a reasonable period (not to exceed one year). The permit is intended to allow for the commencement of drilling and drilling related activities (conductor pipe, well pad, access road construction, etc).

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Contact Information

Edit Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
Geothermal Prospect Well Process and Well-Development Contact 541.967.2080 Visit Website

Edit Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
Geothermal Prospect Well Process and Well-Development Contact #2 541.967.2053 Visit Website