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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 51 Pa.B. 4250 (July 31, 2021).

25 Pa. Code § 78.1. Definitions.

§ 78.1. Definitions.

 The following words and terms, when used in this chapter, have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise, or as otherwise provided in this chapter:

   Act—The Oil and Gas Act (58 P.S. § §  601.101—601.605).

   Attainable bottom—The depth, approved by the Department, which can be achieved after a reasonable effort is expended to clean out to the total depth.

   Casing seat—The depth to which casing is set.

   Cement—A mixture of materials for bonding or sealing that attains a 7-day maximum permeability of 0.01 millidarcies and a 24-hour compressive strength of at least 500 psi in accordance with applicable standards and specifications.

   Cement job log—A written record that documents the actual procedures and specifications of the cementing operation.

   Certified laboratory—A laboratory accredited by the Department under Chapter 252 (relating to environmental laboratory accreditation).

   Coal area—An area that is underlain by a workable coal seam.

   Coal protective casing—A string of pipe which is installed in the well for the purpose of coal segregation and protection. In some instances the coal protective casing and the surface casing may be the same.

   Conductor pipe—A short string of large-diameter casing used to stabilize the top of the wellbore in shallow unconsolidated formations.

   Conventional formation—A formation that is not an unconventional formation.

   Conventional well

     (i)   A bore hole drilled or being drilled for the purpose of or to be used for construction of a well regulated under 58 Pa.C.S. § §  3201—3274 (relating to development) that is not an unconventional well, irrespective of technology or design.

     (ii)   The term includes, but is not limited to:

       (A)   Wells drilled to produce oil.

       (B)   Wells drilled to produce natural gas from formations other than shale formations.

       (C)   Wells drilled to produce natural gas from shale formations located above the base of the Elk Group or its stratigraphic equivalent.

       (D)   Wells drilled to produce natural gas from shale formations located below the base of the Elk Group where natural gas can be produced at economic flow rates or in economic volumes without the use of vertical or nonvertical well bores stimulated by hydraulic fracture treatments or multilateral well bores or other techniques to expose more of the formation to the well bore.

       (E)   Irrespective of formation, wells drilled for collateral purposes, such as monitoring, geologic logging, secondary and tertiary recovery or disposal injection.

   Deepest fresh groundwater—The deepest fresh groundwater bearing formation penetrated by the wellbore as determined from drillers logs from the well or from other wells in the area surrounding the well or from historical records of the normal surface casing seat depths in the area surrounding the well, whichever is deeper.

   Drill cuttings—Rock cuttings and related mineral residues generated during the drilling of an oil or gas well.

   Fresh groundwater—Water in that portion of the generally recognized hydrologic cycle which occupies the pore spaces and fractures of saturated subsurface materials.

   Gas storage field—A gas storage reservoir and all of the gas storage wells connected to the gas storage reservoir.

   Gas storage reservoir—The portion of a subsurface geologic formation or rock strata used for or being tested for storage of natural gas that:

     (i)   Has sufficient porosity and permeability to allow gas to be injected or withdrawn, or both.

     (ii)   Is bounded by strata of insufficient porosity or permeability, or both, to allow gas movement out of the reservoir.

     (iii)   Contains or will contain injected gas geologically or by pressure control.

   Gas storage well—A well located and used in a gas storage reservoir for injection or withdrawal purposes, or an observation well.

   Gel—A slurry of clay or other equivalent material and water at a ratio of not more than 7 barrels of water to each 100 pounds of clay or other equivalent matter.

   Intermediate casing—A string of casing set after the surface casing and before production casing, not to include coal protection casing, that is used in the wellbore to isolate, stabilize or provide well control.

   L.E.L.—Lower explosive limit.

   Noncementing material—A mixture of very fine to coarse grained nonbonding materials, including unwashed crushed rock, drill cuttings, earthen mud or other equivalent material approved by the Department.

   Noncoal area—An area that is not underlain by a workable coal seam.

   Nonporous material—Nontoxic earthen mud, drill cuttings, fire clay, gel, cement or equivalent materials approved by the Department that will equally retard the movement of fluids.

   Observation well—A well used to monitor the operational integrity and conditions in a gas storage reservoir, the reservoir protective area or strata above or below the gas storage horizon.

   Owner—A person who owns, manages, leases, controls or possesses a well or coal property. For purposes of sections 203(a)(4) and (5) and 210 of the act (58 P.S. § §  601.203(a)(4) and (5) and 601.210), the term does not include those owners or possessors of surface real property on which the abandoned well is located who did not participate or incur costs in the drilling or extraction operation of the abandoned well and had no right of control over the drilling or extraction operation of the abandoned well. The term does not apply to orphan wells except where the Department determines a prior owner or operator benefited from the well as provided in section 210(a) of the act.

   Perimeter area—An area that begins at the outside coal boundaries of an operating coal mine and extends within 1,000 feet beyond those boundaries or an area within 1,000 feet beyond the mine permit boundaries of a coal mine already projected and permitted but not yet being operated.

   Permanently cemented—Surface casing or coal protective casing that is cemented until cement is circulated to the surface or is cemented with a calculated volume of cement necessary to fill the theoretical annular space plus 20% excess.

   Private water supply—A water supply that is not a public water supply.

   Production casing—A string of pipe other than surface casing and coal protective casing which is run for the purpose of confining or conducting hydrocarbons and associated fluids from one or more producing horizons to the surface.

   Public water supply—A water system that is subject to the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act (35 P.S. § §  721.1—721.17).

   Reportable release of brine—Spilling, leaking, emitting, discharging, escaping or disposing of one of the following:

     (i)   More than 5 gallons of brine within a 24-hour period on or into the ground at the well site where the total dissolved solids concentration of the brine is equal or greater than 10,000 mg/l.

     (ii)   More than 15 gallons of brine within a 24-hour period on or into the ground at the well site where the total dissolved solids concentration of the brine is less than 10,000 mg/l.

   Retrievable—When used in conjunction with surface casing, coal protective casing or production casing, the casing that can be removed after exerting a prudent effort to pull the casing while applying a pulling force at least equal to the casing weight plus 5,000 pounds or 120% of the casing weight, whichever is greater.

   Seasonal high groundwater table—The saturated condition in the soil profile during certain periods of the year. The condition can be caused by a slowly permeable layer within the soil profile and is commonly indicated by the presence of soil mottling.

   Sheen—An iridescent appearance on the surface of the water.

   Soil mottling—Irregular marked spots in the soil profile that vary in color, size and number.

   Surface casing—A string or strings of casing used to isolate the wellbore from fresh groundwater and to prevent the escape or migration of gas, oil or other fluids from the wellbore into fresh groundwater. The surface casing is also commonly referred to as the water string or water casing.

   Tophole water—Water that is brought to the surface while drilling through the strata containing fresh groundwater and water that is fresh groundwater or water that is from a body of surface water. Tophole water may contain drill cuttings typical of the formation being penetrated but may not be polluted or contaminated by additives, brine, oil or man induced conditions.

   Total depth—The depth to which the well was originally drilled, subsequently drilled or the depth to which it was plugged back in a manner approved by the Department.

   Tour—A workshift in drilling of a well.

   Unconventional formation—A geological shale formation existing below the base of the Elk Sandstone or its geologic equivalent stratigraphic interval where natural gas generally cannot be produced at economic flow rates or in economic volumes except by vertical or horizontal well bores stimulated by hydraulic fracture treatments or by using multilateral well bores or other techniques to expose more of the formation to the well bore.

   Unconventional well—A bore hole drilled or being drilled for the purpose of or to be used for the production of natural gas from an unconventional formation.

   Water protection depth—The depth to a point 50 feet below the surface casing seat.

   Water purveyor—The owner or operator of a public water supply.

   Water supply—A supply of water for human consumption or use, or for agricultural, commercial, industrial or other legitimate beneficial uses.

   Well operator or operator—The person designated as the well operator or operator on the permit application or well registration. If a permit or registration was not issued, the term means a person who locates, drills, operates, alters or plugs a well or reconditions a well with the purpose of production therefrom. In cases where a well is used in connection with the underground storage of gas, the term also means a storage operator.

   Well site—The area occupied by the equipment or facilities necessary for or incidental to the drilling, production or plugging of a well.

   Workable coal seam—One of the following:

     (i)   A coal seam in fact being mined in the area in question under the act and this chapter by underground methods.

     (ii)   A coal seam which, in the judgment of the Department, reasonably can be expected to be mined by underground methods.


   The provisions of this §  78.1 amended under 27 Pa.C.S. § §  4103(a), 4104 and 4105; sections 201(d) and 604 of the Oil and Gas Act (58 P.S. § §  601.201(d) and 601.604) (Repealed); sections 1917-A and 1920-A of The Administrative Code of 1929 (71 P.S. § §  510-17 and 510-20); 35 Pa.C.S §  7321; 58 Pa.C.S. § §  3202, 3211(d), 3215(e), 3218(a), 3218.2(a)(4), 3218.4(c) and 3274; section 5 of The Clean Streams Law (35 P.S. §  691.5); section 105 of the Solid Waste Management Act (35 P.S. §  6018.105); section 5 of the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act (32 P.S. §  693.5); section 104 of the Land Recycling and Environmental Remediation Standards Act (35 P.S. §  6026.104); sections 301 and 302 of the Radiation Protection Act (35 P.S. § §  7110.301 and 7110.302); section 3 of the Unconventional Well Report Act (58 P.S. §  1003); and section 13.2 of the act of July 10, 2014 (P.L. 1053, No. 126) adding section 1741.1-E of The Fiscal Code (72 P.S. §  1741.1-E).


   The provisions of this §  78.1 adopted July 31, 1987, effective August 1, 1987, 17 Pa.B. 3235; amended July 28, 1989, effective July 29, 1989, 19 Pa.B. 3229; amended December 16, 1994, effective December 17, 1994, 24 Pa.B. 6284; amended March 30, 2001, effective March 31, 2001, 31 Pa.B. 1736; amended January 27, 2006, effective January 28, 2006, 36 Pa.B. 465; amended October 23, 2009, effective October 24, 2009, 39 Pa.B. 6232; amended February 4, 2011, effective February 5, 2011, 41 Pa.B. 805; amended January 25, 2013, effective January 26, 2013, 43 Pa.B. 526; amended June 13, 2014, effective June 14, 2014, 44 Pa.B. 3517; amended October 7, 2016, effective October 8, 2016, 46 Pa.B. 6431. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (372289) to (372294).

Cross References

   This section cited in 25 Pa. Code §  78.66 (relating to reporting releases).

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