American Society of Civil Engineers

Permitting of Natural Gas Wells in the Floodplain

by T. Lynn Lovell, P.E., (Vice President, Halff Associates, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas), Joe Barrow, P.E., (Senior Water Resources Manager, Halff Associates, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas), and William A. Wiegand, (Hydrologist, Halff Associates, Inc., Fort Worth, Texas)
Section: Environmental Permitting, pp. 1-10, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2008: Ahupua’A
Abstract: This paper describes some of the technical and regulatory issues involved with obtaining permits for the drilling and production phases of natural gas wells in the north Texas area. Natural gas well drilling in the Dallas and Fort Worth metropolitan area has increased dramatically over the past 5 years. The Barnett Shale Formation activity has increased substantially due to advanced and complex horizontal drilling techniques which allow drillers to go beneath adjacent property owners with lower or minimal surface impacts. In a study conducted by the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, the Barnett Shale is contributing $5 billion annually and 55,000 permanent jobs in North Texas. Fort Worth city officials estimate that over 20 years, lease bonuses will provide $742 million for municipal offers and property tax revenues from the wells could bring that total to more than $1 billion. The complexity of locating suitable urban well sites, pipelines, and production facilities is much more difficult than in rural areas. Most cities in the Dallas Fort Worth area have adopted restrictive oil and gas well drilling ordinances and regulations. Floodplains are often the only sites available that are outside of the distance limitations or restrictions for drilling near homes, parks, and other sensitive facilities. Engineers and other professionals are involved with several different phases of the Barnett Shale gas well industry which includes: 1) Permitting Natural Gas Wells in the Floodplains throughout the Metroplex; 2) Preparing GIS-based maps to determine feasible locations for drill sites; 3) Providing route studies for pipelines; and 4) Delineation of wetland boundaries or "Waters of the US", to be avoided by the drilling and production facilities; and 5) Field surveying gas well pad sites and lease boundaries. Much of this effort has been an attempt to guide exploration companies in minimizing the environmental impacts of this activity. The energy companies have significant political and financial resources.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Natural gas
Flood plains