Please Note: The statutes and regulations of the Division of Oil and Gas require a permit to be obtained prior to any drilling activity. Please refer to the Oil and Gas Operator's Manual located under the "Resources" tab for all of the division's requirements regarding the drilling, producing and plugging of oil and gas wells in the Commonwealth.
The mission of the Division of Oil and Gas is to regulate the crude oil and natural gas industry in the Commonwealth; protect the correlative rights of mineral owners, fresh water zones and minable coal seams; and conserve and protect oil and gas reserves in Kentucky.
The Division of Oil and Gas maintains a well history database for each well containing data relative to the permit, operator, well location, pertinent dates and well completion. Currently, there are 136,286 wells stored online. This information is shared with the Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS) to assist in the compilation of oil and gas data.
Oil and Gas History
In 1818, the Martin Beatty well was drilled in McCreary County, Ky., by the salt-making industry in search of brine. It produced commercial quantities of oil that were shipped in wooden barrels by barge on the Cumberland River. Through 2009, over 165,000 known wells have been drilled in Kentucky associated with oil and gas production.
In 1960, the Division of Oil and Gas was created by the General Assembly and charged with the duties of fostering conservation of all mineral resources, encouraging exploration of such resources, protecting the correlative rights of land and mineral owners, prohibiting waste and unnecessary surface loss and damage, and encouraging the maximum recovery of oil and gas from all deposits. The Division of Oil and Gas began permitting all oil and gas-related wells at that time.
In 1961, plugging and abandonment procedures were implemented. In 1978, groundwater protection regulations began through an administrative regulation for protection of freshwater zones.
Oil and gas are produced from more than 1,500 pools in Kentucky from rocks of Cambrian to Pennsylvanian age. Most oil is produced from Mississippian limestone and sandstone in eastern and western Kentucky or from Ordovician limestone and dolomites in southern Kentucky. Most natural gas is produced from the Devonian black shale in eastern Kentucky.