The Environmental Quality Board, an arm of the Department of Environmental Protection, approved a set of regulatory improvements that toughens construction standards for natural gas wells in Pennsylvania. The rules go before the Independent Regulatory Review Commission for final approval.

A Department spokesman said the rules will help prevent leaking of gas into water supplies.

The natural gas industry worked with DEP on the language in the proposed regulations.

Among other things, the rules include the following:

  • A provision that requires operators to have a pressure barrier plan to minimize well control events;
  • A provision that requires operators to condition the wellbore to ensure an adequate bond between the cement, casing and the formation;
  • Provisions that require the use of centralizers to ensure casings are properly positioned in the wellbore; and
  • A provision that improves the quality of the cement placed in the casing that protects fresh groundwater.