Message from Director John Baza – Winter 2019

For the past several years I have been extolling the tri-part mission of the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining (OGM): 1) Foster responsible development of the state’s petroleum and mineral resources, 2) Protect the public from health and safety impacts of such development and 3) Preserve the environment by requiring effective restoration and reclamation of lands after development has ceased.  As we commence a new year and look back at OGM’s accomplishments of 2018, it allows us to assess how well we have achieved our objectives.  

The success of the extractive industries in Utah speaks for itself.  According to the most recent website references of the U.S. Energy Information Association, Utah ranks 10th in the nation for crude oil production, 13th for natural gas production, and 11th for coal production. The Utah Geological Survey released a report in December entitled “Utah Mining 2017” that characterizes the entire petroleum and mining industries in Utah equating to $5.8 billion in value during that year. OGM is proud to be a catalyst for this industrial activity as the chief regulatory agency responsible for oil, gas and mining permit activity as well as ensuring that such development occurs in a responsible manner.

However along with this valuable development and the important commodities that are produced for consumption by everyone, there are impacts. Risk mitigation becomes a key component of ensuring that development occurs responsibly. Several of the Division’s principal business processes revolve around risk mitigation. For example, the process of reviewing and approving permits for drilling or mining is performed by skilled personnel who have been trained in earth sciences, hydrology, and engineering.  By using discerning judgement and a sound regulatory framework, they help companies prudently plan their operations according to established standards. Similarly, the observations of on-the-ground inspection staff determine that extractive industry activities remain in compliance with those same established standards. Other risk mitigation OGM processes are effective data management and record-keeping for transparency to the public, and a public adjudicative process through the Board of Oil, Gas and Mining.

As a consumer society, we all benefit from the extractive industry commodities produced in Utah. As such we are also very much reliant on the efforts of Division personnel in keeping the industrial materials flowing to the marketplace with as minimal risk to the public and environment as possible.