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The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved a new requirement Tuesday for energy companies to do water testing before drilling oil and natural gas wells.

Conservation groups say the new rule is one of the strongest in the United States.

“Gov. Matt Mead and other members of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission believe the testing will protect companies from unfair allegations of contamination and landowners if water is contaminated,” the Casper Star Tribune said.

Some residents of the central Wyoming town of Pavillion alleged their water was contaminated by fracking. The oil and gas industry has denied the charge.

Crude oil and/or natural gas were produced in 22 of Wyoming’s 23 counties during 2012, according to Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Only Teton County produced neither.

In 2012, sales of crude oil production totaled 57.3 million barrels, up 5.91% from 2011. Sales of natural gas production in 2012 totaled 2,004 trillion cubic feet down 6.94% from 2011.

Nationally, Wyoming ranked 7th in production of crude oil and 3rd in natural gas production during 2012.

During 2012, 399 companies/operators produced Wyoming’s crude oil and 252 produced natural gas. There were 38,079 producing wells.

In 2012 approximately 10,843 wells produced oil and 27,236 produced gas of that number 13,788 were coal bed natural gas wells. The average daily production for an

Starting March 1, operators will have to test water quality once before drilling oil and gas wells, a second time 36 to 48 months after drilling and a third time at least 24 months after that, the Casper Star Tribune said.

Groundwater needing testing is that within a half-mile from oil and gas wellheads found in springs and wells used for domestic, livestock, industrial, municipal or irrigation purposes.

If there are more than four water sources within a half mile, the rule allows operators to submit a plan to the Wyoming oil and gas supervisor to choose wells located in a radial pattern around the well, the report said.

“The rule requires that operators test for dissolved methane. The approved rule set a lower tripwire than the previous version for the tested level of dissolved methane that would require operators to notify the state and landowners of methane’s presence in the water. The change was requested by environmental groups,” the Star Tribune said.