Occasionally the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (OGM) finds it necessary to take enforcement action against companies operating in the state. These actions are taken for a variety of reasons, but most often because there is a substantial risk of harm if an operator remains out of compliance with established rules. The potential for harm could be to the environment, to public health and safety, or to the monetary obligations inherent with producing energy and mineral resources.
Some recent examples of enforcement action include:
- Needing to reclaim a waste pile associated with mining operations
- Requiring removal of produced water and oilfield wastes from an inactive petroleum site
- Addressing a failure to report produced volumes of oil and gas from wells in order to properly pay mineral royalties and taxes
- Requiring the posting of an adequate reclamation bond for extractive operations in order to avoid future public liability for closure and reclamation
Most of us understand the need for structured rules and regulations in society intended to maintain order and prevent harm. Whether it is traffic regulation, laws regarding investment practices or municipal ordinances for snow clearing in winter months, we all live in a system that expects compliance for a variety of daily activities. When we all work to apply these requirements, then life flows smoothly with minimal inconvenience. But when even one or two individuals skirt the rules or try to make exceptions for themselves, then many other persons can be affected or even injured.
OGM field operations staff works diligently to ensure compliance by operators by instructing, informing, and advising parties regarding requirements for workmanlike energy and mineral production in Utah. But there are occasional examples where such efforts over lengthy periods of time have failed. These are the cases where enforcement actions become necessary to achieve a desired outcome. Fortunately, there are many responsible operating companies in Utah, and it is rare that OGM must proceed to enforcement action, but it remains a tool for effective compliance that is used from time to time.