A Complete Guide to Oil and Gas Permits [2021]

oil and gas permits

What is unique in The United States of America? We are one of the few countries around the world that permit private citizens to own mineral rights. Within the borders of our country, rules, regulations, and policies differ. This is heavily from state to state on a number of issues. For oil and gas, this is no different as state permits will vary throughout different territories.

In this quick information blog, we will define what state permits for oil and gas are. We will also answer some of the most common questions.  This includes regarding who, what, and where oil and gas permits application happens. After diving into the basics for these terms, we will provide a few additional resources. Mostly information about local state permits and drilling permits.

What are oil and gas permits?

A permit is an application with the local government. An application to drill, complete, re-enter or complete a well. Permits are requirements in all states in which oil and gas drilling is permissible. The filing of permits is usually with the Land Office of a state government.

Who will submit a state permit for oil and gas?

State permits are issuable to oil and gas operators for active or soon-to-be active mineral rights. Mineral rights owners do not need to worry about filing a state permit. Submission of that paperwork is by the oil or gas operator.

Only issuable to American citizens, filling of state permits are from the oil and gas operator employees. They are legal to work on the project. More often than not, companies will have a landman to file permits. They don’t have direct involvement with any of the other parts of the overall oil and gas operation.

When to file these permits?

Within any organization, filing of state permits is typically soon as possible. Especially after the action is undergoing on an oil and gas lease. If the well is ready to be drilled or completed for the first, second, or final time. This is where a permit must be filled at every step along the way.

In typical instances, permits will last for one full calendar year before expiring. This may vary by the state or the nature of the permit as well.

Why is permitting a requirement for oil and gas?

State permitting is a requirement. This is to ensure the ongoing health of the earth and the success of an oil and gas operation. Unpermitted drillings may cause damage to the earth or reserves which could lead to catastrophic environmental and economic damage.

Oil and gas permits are required in order to ensure the health and safety of:

  • All mining operations
  • The quality of air, water, and earth
  • Well drilling
  • Use of roads
  • Resource storage
  • And more

Is it possible to file these permits on federal land?

Yes, in some parts of the country federally reserved land does not technically belong to any state in particular. This is even if found entirely within one’s borders. In states like Nevada, Arizona, and more it may be possible to file an oil and gas permit. Usually for the exploration or extraction of natural resources from federal lands. Information for outstanding federal mineral rights can be seen here.

Resources for filing State Permits for These Resources

Not every state has a dedicated mineral rights office. Most states in the Union have at least one main point of contact or center of information. This is where to file permits for oil and gas operations. Are you looking for a reference for your local state? We will include some of the most popular state resources below.

Texas: Please see the GLO energy business resource page for mining on state lands within the Lone Star State. Commissioned by George W. Bush, GLO provides resources and permits for prospecting, leasing, and mining operations.

Oklahoma: The Department of Environmental Quality is Oklahoma’s home for general oil and gas permits as well as specific applications for special operations and businesses.

North Dakota: North Dakota-based operators can make use of the Frequently Asked Questions page for the state’s oil and gas permitting processes.

Colorado: In the centennial state, oil and gas permits are issued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Pennsylvania: Resources for the Keystone state’s oil and gas permitting process can be found on the PA Department of Environmental Protection website.

Nevada: Please see the State of Nevada Commission of Mineral Resources Division of Minerals page for current information on state permits.

Arizona: Since 1915, Arizona’s State Land Department has been the best resource for locating and filing state mineral exploration and drilling permits.

If you have more questions about these permits, feel free to ask us here.

1 reply
  1. Bill Van Allen
    Bill Van Allen says:

    There is so much discussion about 9,000 unused oil and gas leases on federal land, and I know there’s more to getting a producing well up and running than getting a federal lease. I’m having trouble finding the actual steps, costs, permits and timeline from lease to oil or gas reaching the refinery and gas or diesel reaching the pumps, although your site here does address some of the state permitting required.
    I have to believe there’s more to producing energy than getting a lease, specifically in the area of government obstacles, as well as market forces.
    I realize that this may well be beyond the scope of an exchange of emails, or Ranger Minerals’ specific operations, but you may be able to point me to a source for information you may not have or wish to keep proprietary.
    Rest assured, I’m not looking to become a competitor, but I am a member of the Florida Republican Liberty Caucus, and I think energy self-sufficiency is critical to the survival of our American way of life. I believe depending on overseas sources for energy that fuels our homes, industries and military is an existential threat to our Republic, and so I hope you might help me better understand how we got from energy independence in 2019 to begging communist dictators for oil in 2022.
    Appreciate your time, and whatever help you can offer in my petroleum fuels education.
    Thank you in advance.


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