John Baza is the director for the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining.
The Division of Oil, Gas and Mining met with the energy producers and water users of Emery and Carbon counties on Dec. 5. This collaborative meeting has been ongoing for several years. They meet every other month alternating between Emery and Carbon counties.
John Baza, the director of the division gave an update on happenings at DOGM. The mining expansion at Skyline Mine was approved in October. The mine wants to expand in January 2014 and the letter came from the Office of Surface Mining that DOGM had done such a good job on all the paperwork that the project will be allowed to move forward. Several people were involved in making that happen.
DOGM is part of the Natural Resources division of Utah state government, the office includes two water agencies, the state parks, the wildlife division and others. DOGM deals with a wide variety of issues related to oil, gas and mining. Responsible development is one of the main objectives for the division. Oil and gas, minerals and the coal program along with the abandoned mine reclamation programs are the programs administered by the division.
The division is governed by six board members. The board chairman Jim Jensen recently passed away and hasn't been replaced at this time.
The division has a very good website which they are always trying to update and add more information to make it more usable. There are icons on the website that represent each of the programs.
The number of drilling applications approved this year is approaching 1,500. Last year there were 2,100 permits approved. In the last 10 years or so the oil and gas program has been very busy. "We have been able to handle all the permits without a staff increase," said Baza. Oil and gas production has been increasing each year. Last year topped this year's production. Last year 500 billion cubic feet of gas was produced in the state. "It's down a little this year," said Baza.
The division is under a lot of pressure from government regulations from all levels of government including local, state and federal. Environmental groups apply pressure and air and water quality are concerns. The sensitive species is a concern in oil and gas exploration. The division is mindful of all issues involved and tries to address them in any permitting situation.
The division supports responsible development of resources while protecting the public values and interests.
One of the top issues that affects oil and gas development is the fracturing. There are well integrity requirements and hydraulic fracturing rules.
The sage grouse habitat is an ongoing issue with oil and gas productions. Wells can be placed so they don't interfere with the sage grouse.
The air quality of the Uintah Basin is a big issue. The high ozone levels there are affected by the extractive industries in that area.
Baza said the board will soon have the ability to accept testimony from a remote location for hearings. This will be extremely helpful for well owners from outside the area.
DOGM is also on Facebook and Twitter.
Baza said one important thing to him is the customer satisfaction survey. He encourages everyone to go online and fill one out. Baza can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan White asked where the gas industry is going in the future. Baza said he doesn't think it has peaked and there's still a lot of interest in oil and gas. If the new methods being developed in North Dakota are successful then they could be used here and would increase recoverable oil. There is also interest in oil shale development.
Baza was asked where he thinks coal is headed. He said the markets overseas are really opening up. The countries there want what America has as far as energy production. There will be a steady demand overseas as interest in coal diminishes in the United States.
Some people believe these industries are dirty, but Baza said they are as clean now as they have ever been.
Dana Dean said there are many interviews on facebook with miners which discuss how mining has evolved. She encouraged everyone to watch them. If you know of an individual who would be a good candidate for an interview to contact the division.