Geothermal Resources

ORS 522.005

As used in this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:


“Board” means the governing board of the State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.


“By-product” means any mineral or minerals, exclusive of helium or of oil, hydrocarbon gas or other hydrocarbon substances, that are found in solution or in association with geothermal resources and that have a value of less than 75 percent of the value of the geothermal resource or are not, because of quantity, quality, or technical difficulties in extraction and production, of sufficient value to warrant extraction and production by themselves.


“Completed geothermal well” means a well producing geothermal resources for which the operator has received the department’s written assurance that the manner of drilling of and producing geothermal resources from the well are satisfactory.


“Cooperative agreement” means an agreement or plan of development and operation for the production or utilization of geothermal resources in which separate ownership units independently operate without allocation of production.


“Correlative rights” means the right of each owner in a geothermal area to obtain that owner’s just and equitable share of the underlying geothermal resource, or an economic equivalent of that share of the resource, produced in a manner and in an amount that does not injure the reservoir to the detriment of others.


“Department” means the State Department of Geology and Mineral Industries.


“Drilling” includes drilling, redrilling and deepening of a geothermal well.


“Enhanced recovery” means the increased recovery from a reservoir achieved by artificial means or by the application of energy extrinsic to the reservoir. The artificial means include, but are not limited to, reinjection of hot brine, fluid or water into a reservoir.


“Geothermal area” means any parcel of land that is, or reasonably appears to be, underlaid by geothermal resources.


“Geothermal reinjection well” means any well or converted well constructed to dispose of geothermal fluids derived from geothermal resources into an underground reservoir.


“Geothermal resources” means the natural heat of the earth, the energy, in whatever form, below the surface of the earth present in, resulting from, or created by, or that may be extracted from, the natural heat, and all minerals in solution or other products obtained from naturally heated fluids, brines, associated gases, and steam, in whatever form, found below the surface of the earth, exclusive of helium or of oil, hydrocarbon gas or other hydrocarbon substances, but including, specifically:


All products of geothermal processes, including indigenous steam, hot water and hot brines;


Steam and other gases, hot water and hot brines resulting from water, gas, or other fluids artificially introduced into geothermal formations;


Heat or other associated energy found in geothermal formations; and


Any by-product derived from them.


“Geothermal well” includes any excavation made for producing geothermal resources and any geothermal reinjection well.


“Land” means both surface and mineral rights.


“Operator” means the person:


Who possesses the legal right to drill a geothermal well;


Who has obtained a drilling permit pursuant to ORS 522.135 (Permit); or


Who possesses the legal right to operate a completed geothermal well or who has been granted the authority to operate the well by that person.


“Prospect well” includes any well drilled as a geophysical test well, seismic shot hole, mineral exploration drilling, core drilling or temperature gradient test well and drilled in prospecting for geothermal resources. “Prospect well” does not include a geothermal well.


“Reservoir” means an aquifer or combination of aquifers or zones containing a common geothermal or ground water resource. “Reservoir” includes, but is not limited to, a hot dry rock conductive system.


“Royalty interest” means a right or interest in geothermal resources produced from land or in the proceeds of the first sale of those resources.


“Unit agreement” means an agreement or plan of development and operation developed under the provisions of ORS 273.775 (Definitions for ORS 273.775 to 273.790), 308A.050 (Legislative intent) to 308A.128 (Certain district assessments inapplicable to exclusive farm use zone farmland), 522.015 (Policy), 522.405 (Unitization) to 522.545 (Rulemaking authority), 522.815 (Rules by board) and 522.990 (Penalties) and this section for the production or use of geothermal resources in separately owned interests as a single consolidated unit and that provides for the allocation of costs and benefits.


“Unit area” means the area described in a unit agreement that constitutes the land subject to development under the agreement.


“Unit operator” means the person designated in the unit agreement to manage and conduct the operation involving unitized land.


“Unit production” means all geothermal resources produced from a unit area from the effective date of a unit agreement approved by the board under ORS 522.405 (Unitization).


“Waste” means:


Any physical waste, including, but not limited to, underground waste resulting from the inefficient, excessive or improper use or dissipation of reservoir energy or resulting from the location, spacing, drilling, equipping, operation or production of a geothermal resource well in such a manner that reduces or tends to reduce the ultimate economic recovery of the geothermal resources within a reservoir; and


Surface waste resulting from the inefficient storage of geothermal resources and the location, spacing, drilling, equipping, operation or production of a geothermal resource well in such a manner that causes or tends to cause the unnecessary or excessive surface loss or destruction of geothermal resources released from a reservoir.


“Working interest” means an interest in geothermal resources or in land containing geothermal resources that is held under a lease, operating agreement, fee title or otherwise and under which, except as otherwise provided in a unit or cooperative agreement, the owner of the interest has the right to explore for, develop, produce or utilize the resources. “Working interest” does not include a right delegated to a unit operator as such by a unit agreement. [1975 c.552 §3; 1979 c.163 §1; 1981 c.588 §3; 1981 c.694 §4; 1999 c.314 §74; 2005 c.22 §375; 2009 c.794 §1]
Chapter 522

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Power of Department of Environmental Quality to regulate recovery of geothermal resources, (1972) Vol 35, p 1100; requirements for exploring for or production of geothermal or oil or gas resources, (1974) Vol 37, p 68


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021