A few years ago, I went on a camping trip with a friend and his family. My friend’s father, a retired long-haul truck driver, asked me about my job with the State of Utah. I said that I worked for the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (OGM). “What does your organization do?” he asked. Answering almost by reflex, I stated that we regulated oil and gas development in the state. His reaction was enlightening. He said, “But don’t we need all the oil and gas that we can get?” He was right; however, he had interpreted my statement as saying that we were somehow trying to prevent the development of the valuable mineral resources in Utah. Contrary to that notion, OGM does all in its power to foster and encourage the responsible development of all of the state’s mineral resource wealth.
OGM is committed to the future of oil, gas and mining in the state. Companies and individuals conducting such business activities in Utah contribute significant benefit to our economy and the quality of life we enjoy. Metals, plastics, electronics, synthetic fabrics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, construction materials and automotive parts are derived from mined materials. In addition, energy and fuels powering our devices, heating and cooling our homes, and aiding in transportation come from Utah’s extractive industries. Clearly, our quality of life is heavily dependent on abundant and affordable supplies of energy.
Those involved in the extractive industries understanding the science and economics of global energy production and supply/demand relationships, need to be more vocal about the realities of a fossil energy future. There is no magic bullet that eliminates fossil energy from our future and also sustains an acceptable quality of life. It can be easy to remain silent when energy debates occur, but we must have the courage to speak knowledgeably and credibly about energy when the opportunities present themselves.
OGM will continue to ensure industry compliance and regulate operations in a manner that safeguards the public health and safety while preserving Utah’s unique and precious environment. As responsible stewards we desire to make the best use of our resources for the benefit of all.
Our goal of The Drill Down is to highlight our efforts to foster responsible development, protect the public health and safety, and preserve the environment.
Each year, the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining presents Earth Day Awards to companies, organizations or individuals who go beyond what is required by regulation to protect the environment, while developing Utah’s natural resources.
Awards are presented in the areas of oil and gas, minerals mining and coal mining. Specific award categories environmental improvement to an active mine site, exploration site, or producing field; outstanding results following applications of innovative environmental technology and outstanding final reclamation or site restoration.
The following companies received Earth Day Awards for 2016:
Compass Minerals Ogden, Inc. – Pond expansion project on the Great Salt Lake Mine
Compass Minerals Ogden, Inc. was also awarded the first-ever 2016 Best of the Best Earth Day Award by the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining due to their exceptional environmental improvement work on their Great Salt Lake Mine Project.
Ultradent Products – Innovative reclamation of a site in Tooele County
Questar Pipeline Company – Reduced environmental impacts during the Mainline 3 Replacement Project in Morgan and Davis counties.
North American Mine Services, Inc. – Sage grouse mitigation on the Green Diamond project in Uintah County
Canyon Fuel Company, LLC – Sufco Mine – Habitat improvement project in the Manti La Sal National Forest
Conoco Phillips – Habitat improvement project with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to remove pinyon/juniper in Hiawatha, Utah.
With lower, fluctuating oil prices, drilling activity in Utah has slowed considerably. However, staff in the oil and gas program remains busy ensuring wells and disposal facility sites are maintained and safe. There are 16,302 inspectable oil and gas units statewide and eight field inspectors located in Salt Lake, Vernal and Price.
In addition to well and disposal facility inspections, staff is responsible for the following:
Approve engineering plans for work on existing wells
Monitor mechanical integrity tests of well bores
Respond to environmental spills and releases
Establish and witness plugging procedures
Ensure compliance of oil and gas rules and statutes
Maintain database for all well information
Maintain environmental integrity of industry
Ensure adequate bonding
Audit for accuracy of reporting
Over the last several months, program staff worked on the plugging and reclamation of seven orphan wells in the Vernal, Price and Crescent Junction areas. Due to the delinquency of the well operators, the Division claimed the bonds and assumed responsibility to oversee and pay for plugging operations.
Staff also witnessed pluggings in the Anschutz Ranch area near Evanston, Wyoming. Four wells were plugged from January through the beginning of April. Snow and freezing temperatures slowed progress and posed challenges to plugging crews and division staff.
Other well pluggings are scheduled in the Coalville area this summer.
In 2012- 2013, the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Abandoned Mine Reclamation (AMR) program inventoried 31 hazardous mine openings in the Diamond Gulch area in Juab County.
In mid-April, reclamation of the area began to close 30 shafts and adit (mine entrance) using backfill and shaft grates. These closures prevent people from venturing inside and being exposed to the many hazards found in abandoned mines including dangerous gases and unstable structures.
“Although the Diamond Gulch East project is fairly isolated, the area is becoming more popular with outdoor recreationist,” stated Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining Project Manager Susan White. “Many of the mine workings are visible and are an obvious attraction.”
This area is known as the Tintic District, with the first mine established in the late 1860’s. Over 2.6-million ounces of gold, silver, copper, lead and bismuth were produced from the area. The district was extensively mined until 1958; however some mining still occurs depending on metal prices.
Dustin Doucet has been a petroleum engineer with the Division for 15 years. As a petroleum engineer he reviews and approves all engineering plans related to the life of a well from drilling to abandonment. He evaluates well designs and specifications to ensure safety, protection of water and mineral resources and the environment. He also makes sure Utah’s statutes and rules governing these activities are followed and met.
Dustin also manages the orphan well plugging program. The Division claims the bonds and assumes responsibility to oversee and pay for plugging operations due to the delinquency of the well operator. Managing the program includes project bidding, contracting and overseeing all work completed. This program has plugged over 100 wells and is funded by producers of oil and gas through a .002 levy on the value of production.
He also reviews information and testifies as needed in Board hearings regarding well spacing, pooling, enforcement and compliance. These decisions help operators develop resources in an orderly and responsible fashion, while protecting correlative rights of owners.
“My job allows me the opportunity to ensure responsible resource development in the oil and gas industry, while preserving the environment through sound engineering principles and practices. I enjoy working for the Division and interacting with the public and other professionals in the industry to find solutions to problems that bring resolution and resolve to difficult issues.” ~Dustin Doucet
Dustin has a Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering from Montana Tech. He worked in the oil and gas industry for eight years prior to working for the Division. He coordinated coring projects with Arco, BP and ConocoPhillips in major field discoveries and established prolific fields throughout the world including Yacheng Field in the South China Sea, Temane Field in Mozambique, Rhourde El Baguel Field in Algeria, Prudhoe Bay and satellite fields in Alaska, Cooke Inlet, Alaska, Black Sea exploration, Turkey as well as continental U.S. Dustin also performed reservoir analysis throughout the world.
Dustin is married and has three boys. He met his wife, a chemical engineer in the oil and gas industry, while working on the Rhourde El Baguel Field in Algeria. She is a native of Algeria. When he isn’t working, Dustin enjoys playing and watching basketball, golf, playing guitar and outdoor activities.