Preventative maintenance is important for our health, home, and vehicles to avoid major expenses in the future. The same can be said for the extractive industries with maintenance including confirming equipment isn’t worn, leaks and spills are controlled, and valves or hatches are properly lubricated and functional. This preventive maintenance is not a function of available cash flow, but must be performed even when economic conditions are poor.
Regulatory agencies must also conduct routine monitoring and compliance at all inspectable units to avoid catastrophic failure of physical infrastructure, especially when the petroleum industry is in a downturn.
When I came to work for the Division over twenty years ago, the inventory of active oil and gas wells was approximately 5000 to 6000. Since then, the number has grown to over 16,000 active wells, a large responsibility for the nine inspectors working for the oil and gas program.
In order to have an effective regulatory program, we must commit to having adequate staffing within OGM to perform the necessary field monitoring and compliance efforts, even during lean times in the petroleum industry. Problems can be continually addressed and the overall health of the extractive industries sustained.
I do not anticipate that every person benefiting from the consumption of products obtained from mining and the petroleum industry will truly appreciate the efforts made to maintain a healthy and safe industry in Utah. My hope is that industrial operators and the general public can gain a greater understanding of the efforts of our dedicated OGM staff and that these industries can operate in Utah with relatively few negative impacts to the environment and citizens.