History of the Railroad Commission 2000-2009

Chronological Listing of Key Events in the History of the Railroad Commission of Texas (2000 - 2009)

2000
First electronic filing and approval of a drilling permit is completed with the ECAP system.

Natural gas spot prices top $10/mcf.

2001
Sunset Commission review of Railroad Commission.

SB 310 requires all private and public schools to conduct pressure tests on LP-gas piping, and extends pressure tests on natural gas piping to private schools.

Pipeline integrity testing rule adopted requiring pipelines to demonstrate structural integrity of their pipeline systems.

2002
Fees for Oil Field Cleanup Fund increased substantially to allow for increased well plugging and site remediation.

Begin transition to universal bonding of all oil and gas operators to slow the incidence of orphan wells that must be plugged by the state.

ECAP system available to accept online permitting for all forms of new drilling permits.

Voluntary cleanup program for contaminated oil and gas sites initiated.

February 19, 2003
Victor G. Carrillo succeeded Tony Garza as Railroad Commissioner.

2003
New statutes require the collection of the Oil Field Cleanup Regulatory fee on crude oil and natural gas production regardless of whether that production is exempt from severance tax or has been granted a severance tax reduction.

Jurisdiction for the response to coastal oil spills less than 240 barrels moved from the Railroad Commission to the General Land Office.

Phase II of the Oil and Gas Migration Project initiated to migrate the Commission's mainframe data to an open systems environment and reengineer business processes for better operating efficiency.

The 20,000th well is plugged under the Commission's plugging program.

A record number 1,635 wells were plugged with Oil Field Cleanup funds and other state and federal funds.

Site Remediation completed its 2,500th cleanup activity.

For the first time in its history, the Railroad Commission was awarded a Brownfields Subtitle C Grant from the EPA for $449,630, with subsequent grants in excess of $1 million.  The Commission was the first state oil and gas agency in the country to receive a Brownfields Subtitle C grant from the EPA.

The RRC intranet mapping application went online, standardizing and simplifying the process of creating and plotting statewide pipeline maps.

Natural gas utilities are required to file utility tariffs with the Commission electronically via the Commission's Internet system.

The Uniform System of Accounts required for gas utility reporting in Texas moved from the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners' USOA (NARUC) to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission USOA (FERC), by order dated December 22, 2003.  The NARUC USOA had been the required system since its adoption by the Railroad Commission in 1977.

Legislature authorized the RRC to adopt fees to be assessed against natural gas distribution operators to recover the costs of administering the pipeline safety program.

Legislature authorized the RRC to assess fees against railroads to recover the costs of administering the rail safety program.

Legislature transferred responsibility for the aggregate pit and quarry program from Railroad Commission to Texas Department of Transportation.

Legislature passed the Gas Reliability Infrastructure Program Adjustment (GRIP) allowing natural gas utilities an annual interim rate adjustment (IRA) on net investment.

September 22, 2003
Victor G. Carrillo becomes Chairman of the Railroad Commission.

2004
Commission completes first system-wide gas utility rate case.

RRC began digitizing electric well logs that are required by Tex. Nat. Res. Code, §§ 91.551 - 91.556 to be filed with the Commission.  Digital electric logs are accessible through the GIS Viewer on the Commission website.

Legislature authorized increase in seal/severance fees to encourage prompt compliance and to enhance the Oil Field Cleanup Fund.

Commission implements the Production Data Query System, expanding Internet query capabilities for production data filed with the Commission and replacing the ACTI Production System.

By letter dated February 9, 2004, the United States Environmental Protection Agency officially delegates to the Railroad Commission the Class III Brine Mining Program under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The Commission and the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Office of Conservation sign a Memorandum of Understanding regarding reciprocal notification prior to certain oil and gas activity near the boundary between the two states.

Following statutory changes adopted in 2001, the Commission implements "universal bonding," requiring all well operators (and many non-well operators) to provide a bond, letter of credit or cash deposit as financial security with the filing or renewal of their organization reports.

February 9, 2005
Elizabeth A. Jones succeeded Charles R. Matthews as Railroad Commissioner.

2005
Transition to "universal bonding" completed. 

79thLegislature with HB 380 authorizes the Commission to accept well-specific plugging insurance policies as an alternative form of financial assurance.

Legislature enacts HB 2161, which created the Orphaned Well Reduction Program and Tax Incentive, Low-Producing Well Tax Reduction, and Enhanced Efficiency Equipment Tax Credit.

Legislature enacts HB 2201 to encourage Clean Coal projects in Texas and clarifying the Railroad Commission's jurisdiction over injection of carbon dioxide from Clean Coal projects into zones productive of oil, gas, and geothermal energy.

Legislature enacts SB 1170, removing the statutory requirement that the Commission determine the status of gas production from gas reservoirs in the state; eliminating the requirement that the monthly reservoir market demand for gas be determined through a hearing; and enabling the Commission to streamline the regulatory process for setting gas allowables by allowing rather than requiring the Commission to prorate. 

Legislature also enacts SB 1175, which provided the Commission with the authority to revise the process for setting allowables and to exempt all oil wells in an oil field from production regulation where no operator in the field requests such regulation. 

Legislature enacts HB 484, which clarified the requirements for electric logs and identified the operator as the person responsible for compliance.

The Commission completes the 3,000th cleanup activity under the Oil Field Cleanup Program since its inception in 1992, and the 445th closure under the Operator Cleanup Program since FY 2002.  In addition, a record 239 sites entered the Operator Cleanup Program for RRC oversight.  Site Remediation Program received $1.6 million in federal and state grants, including $700,000 for a new Non-Point Source Pollution grant for Petronila Creek.

The Commission completes the 20,176th well plugging utilizing the Oil Field Cleanup Fund (FY 1992 - FY 2005).

The Commission tests/evaluates 12,185th orphaned well under the High Risk Well Testing Program (FY 2002 - FY 2005). 

The number of known non-compliant inactive wells dropped below 21,000 for the first time since FY 1994.

Legislature directed the RRC to conduct a study that examined and determined the extent to which viable competition existed in the Texas natural gas pipeline industry from the wellhead to the burner tip.

Legislature in HB 2702 transferred remainder of Railroad Safety oversight from the Railroad Commission to the Texas Department of Transportation.

The Commission streamlined production reporting requirements by eliminating form "P-1" (oil) and "P-2" (gas) and creating a new production form, "PR".

The Commission implemented the RRC Online System allowing authorized entities to file certain forms online.  The RRC Online allows the public to query on all applications that are filed through the system.

The Commission released on the RRC website the GIS Map Viewer. This application provides the public the ability to locate mapped oil wells, natural gas wells, plugged wells, dry holes, injection and disposal wells, and permitted locations for new wells and pipelines.

September 27, 2005
Elizabeth A. Jones becomes Chairman of the Railroad Commission.

2006
RRC awarded $8 million grant from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to reduce air pollution in 41 counties by offering incentives to purchasers of low-NOx propane forklifts.

As of April 2006, the Commission's Voluntary Cleanup Program had 36 active sites, and had granted ten certificates of completion for successful cleanup of contaminated oil and gas sites since its inception in 2002.

Commission approves publication of proposed amendments to Statewide Rules 95 and 97, relating to Underground Storage of LPG and Natural Gas in Salt Formations, respectively.  The purpose of these proposed amendments is to reduce the possibility of explosion and fire at hydrocarbon storage facilities and enhance the safety of such facilities.

July 17, 2007
Michael L. Williams becomes Chairman of the Railroad Commission.

2007

Commission approves publication of proposed amendments to Statewide Rules 95 and 97, relating to Underground Storage of LPG and Natural Gas in Salt Formations, respectively.  The purpose of these proposed amendments is to reduce the possibility of explosion and fire at hydrocarbon storage facilities and enhance the safety of such facilities.

The 79th Legislature mandated the Commission to initiated a Natural Gas Pipeline Competition Study to evaluate the competitiveness of the natural gas regulatory environment, especially with respect to the working relationships between natural gas producers, gatherers, and transporters and concerns that have been expressed about discriminatory and anticompetitive behavior. Key Legislation was adopted in the 80th Legislative Session

  • House Bill 1920 amended §85 of the Natural Resources Code to establish a procedure for resolving issues regarding lost and unaccounted for gas and utilizes the Commission’s informal complaint procedure to resolve these types of issues.
House Bill 3273 amended §81 of the Natural Resources Code to implement the recommendations from the Natural Gas Pipeline Competition Study.

Well completions received and processed remain at a 20-year high at over 11,000.  RRC also received (23,940) and processed (23,388) a 20-year record number of W-1 applications.

The Commission received (2,596) and processed (2,265) a record number of waste hauler applications.

The Commission completed the 23,536th well plugging using the Oil Field Cleanup Fund and other state-managed funds (FY1992-FY2007).  The Commission also set three State managed plugging records for: (1) record high well plugging expenditure ($19.04MM);  (2) record number of wells plugged (18) in the Gulf of Mexico; and (3) highest single contract value ($4.2 MM) for plugging in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Commission tested/evaluated the 17,438th orphaned well under the High Risk Well Testing Program (FY202-FY007).

Oil and Gas District Office field staff performed 11,084 inspections in FY 2007, including record performance in the following priority job categories: (1) surface casing jobs witnessed (2,461); (2) mechanical integrity tests of UIC wells witnessed (10,635); (3) hydrogen sulfide facilities/operations inspected (4,918); and (4) disposal and injection wells/facilities inspected (8,195).

The Pipeline Safety section initiated a review of the use of compression type couplings in the State.  The program was initiated in March 2007.  The Commission issued two directives to remove or replace couplings in the fall of 2007.

The Commission adopted new informal complaint rule in Chapter 2; effective March 15, 2007

The Commission initiated rulemaking to increase the leak survey frequency of pipelines dependent upon their associated risks, requires time frames for pipeline repairs, and requires a listing of repaired leaks for risk analysis.

The Commission adopts rules in June 2007 for the protection of pipelines from third party damage activities and provides penalty provisions for violations of the rule.  The new rules in Chapter 18, Underground Pipeline Damage Prevention became effective September 1, 2007.
           
September 2007, the Commission’s online system for reporting damages to underground pipelines is activated and the Safety Division receives more than 200 reports of damage per week in the system.

Legislation amending 16 TAC §12.688 passed to increase administrative penalty amount for violations of the Texas Surface Coal Mining and Reclamation Act or a permit issued under that act.  The legislation was effective November 12, 2007.

Legislation amending the Natural Resources Code added exploration for minerals to the class of activities covered under the Texas Uranium.

2008
The Commission implemented a new rule that increase the frequency of natural gas inspection leaks and shortens natural gas leak repair time frames. The Commission adopted rules to create an informal process for matters related to loss of or inability to account for natural gas gathered or transported. The Commission also adopted rules regarding administrative penalties and other remedies for discrimination against a seller of natural gas in the purchase of natural gas from the seller, and gainst a purchaser, transporter, or gatherer of natural gas.

February 10, 2009
Victor G. Carrillo becomes Chairman of the Railroad Commission.

September 2009
The Texas Legislature gave the Commission jurisdiction over the extraction of anthropogenic carbon dioxide stored in a geologic storage facility. The Legilsature also established an inactive well program that mandated surface equipment removal, and established seven options to obtain well plugging exceptions. The Commission adopted pipeline safety rules that require natural gas distribution pipeline operators to submit leak reports every six months. The reports also must list leaks identified and the number of unrepaired leaks remaining on pipelines. Under the new rules, new pipeline construction reports also will now be required to be filed with the Commission on new liquefied petroleum gas (LP-gas or propane) distribution systems. The Commission also adopted rules that place natural gas production and flow lines in heavily populated areas under the state’s safety jurisdiction.

Last Updated: 7/20/2015 12:17:09 PM