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Pennsylvania DEP Adopts New Rule Increasing Unconventional Well Permit Fees

On Friday, June 13, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) adopted a final rulemaking that increased well permit fees for unconventional wells in Pennsylvania for the first time since October 24, 2009.  The new rule, which took effect on June 14, 2014, fixes the permit fees for non-vertical natural gas wells at $5,000 and for vertical natural gas wells at $4,200.  Prior to the new rule, permit fees for unconventional wells were calculated on a sliding scale basis as determined by the length of the wellbore.  As reported by PR Newswire, the result of the DEP’s new rule will be to increase the permit fee for an average unconventional well by about $1,800 and $1,300 for horizontal and vertical gas wells, respectively, while the permit fees for conventional wells will remain the same.  The DEP projects that this change will result in an additional $4.7 million in annual revenue, which will be used to support new information technology projects related to oil and gas and to hire additional staff for the DEP’s entirely self-funded Office of Oil and Gas Management.