Drill & Operate Permit

What Industry Wants

Permission to drill and operate one or more conventional or unconventional oil or gas wells.

Opportunities for Citizen Engagement

People can only engage at the local zoning level. After the permit application is submitted, all stakeholders (including landowners and municipality) have 15 days to respond. There is no public participation process within the DEP (like public comment periods or hearings).


People Involved

  • DEP
  • Drill Operator
  • Local municipality
  • Adjacent municipality
  • County
  • Surface leaseholder
  • Subsurface leaseholders who develop their mineral rights
  • Neighboring landowners/community


Highly variable — as quick as two months.

Steps Involved

Application Received

  • Before the application is received, the operator must submit Act 14 notifications and landowner notifications. Both have 15 days to respond from the time the permit application is received by PA DEP.

Completeness Review

  • The timeline is highly variable, but it averages around a month to determine if the permit application is complete. If it is, E-facts gets updated to permit being complete: “The permit application package is complete, has been accepted, and is undergoing technical review.”

Technical Review

  • If the application is complete and technically-adequate on the first try, the application is given a permit decision guarantee and the PA DEP has 32 days to either issue or deny the permit: “The technical review and decision review are complete and either the permit decision and/or permit issuance are forthcoming.”


  • Applicant has been issued a deficiency letter. If applicable, this application no longer qualifies for the Permit Decision Guarantee. At this point the applicant can respond to the deficiencies.

Elevated Review Process

  • “Response to the deficiency letter did not satisfy information request. Permit application now subject to the Elevated Review Process.”

Permit Decision/Issuance

  • If approved, status of permit gets updated to “Issued on DATE”. Denied permits are listed as “Proposed But Never Materialized” or “Withdrawn”.

Opportunities for Improvement

  • Advocate for a public comment period for D&O permits at the state level.
  • Advocate for a longer response time in the Act 13 laws.


  • eFacts
  • Act 14 notices

Discussion of Step

The applicant must have an oil and gas well bond before submitting an application, the well must be identified and augmented with additional paperwork if it is sited in a previously-mined area, and applicant must send Act 14 notices to the host municipality and county, as well as any adjacent municipalities, and include receipt confirmation with their permit application.

The applicant must also include operator information (including a 24/7 Emergency Contact phone number), the location of the proposed site (latitude and longitude and 911 address if available), ESCGP permit approval is proposed well is part of a development disturbing 5 or more acres of land, indication if proposed site is to be located in a Special Protection High Quality (HQ) or Exceptional Value (EV) watershed, and written consent from landowners is proposed well is located within 500 feet from any existing building or water supply or within 1,000 feet of any existing water well, surface water intake, reservoir, or other water supply extraction point.

Did this answer your question? Thanks for the feedback There was a problem submitting your feedback. Please try again later.