Injection and Disposal Permit Applications FAQ

What determines which application form (Form H-1 or W-14) should be filed?

The proper form is determined based on whether the proposed injection interval is deemed productive or not productive of oil and gas.

File Form W-14, Application to Dispose Oil & Gas Waste by Injection into a Porous Formation Not Productive of Oil or Gas, for disposal into formations that are non-productive of oil, gas, or geothermal resources. See 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §3.9 (Statewide Rule 9) for rule requirements.

File Forms H-1, Application to Inject Fluid into a Reservoir Productive of Oil & Gas, and H-1A, Injection Well Data for H-1 Application, for injection or disposal into formations that are productive of oil, gas, or geothermal resources. See 16 TAC §3.46 (Statewide Rule 46) for rule requirements.

NOTE: The Railroad Commission of Texas (Commission) deems a formation “productive” if there is current or past production in the same correlative interval within a two mile radius.

Oil and gas forms are available for download from the Commission website.

When is a fee required?

In accordance with 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §3.78(b)(7) and §3.78(n)(3) (Statewide Rule 78), a per well $200 fee plus a surcharge of $300 (for a total of $500 per well) is currently required whenever an application is filed for an injection or disposal well permit or permit amendment into a productive reservoir under Statewide Rule 46.

In accordance with 16 TAC §3.78(b)(6), the fee for a disposal well permit into a non-productive reservoir under Statewide Rule 9 is a per well $100 fee, plus a $150 surcharge [pursuant to 16 §3.78(n)(3)], for a total of $250 per well.

A $150 feel [pursuant to 16 TAC §3.78(b)(4)], plus a surcharge of $225 [pursuant to 16 TAC §3.78(n)(3)] (for a total of $375 for each exception request) is required for each technical exception requested whether part of a permit application or separate request. These fees are non-refundable filing fees.

What attachments are required for permit amendments?

Required attachments for permit amendment applications depend on the nature and magnitude of the change to the existing permit. In general, the groundwater depth letter, Area of Review and Electric log (unless already on file) are required for amendments of the injection/disposal interval. Permit amendment filing checklists are available for injection or disposal wells into productive and non-productive formations.

For additional information on the rule requirements, see 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9 and §3.46.

How long does it take to get an injection/disposal well permit?

The Commission’s permitting staff follows the guidelines outlined in 16 Texas Administrative Code §1.201 when processing permit applications for injection and disposal wells. The rule requires staff to act on an application (either request additional information or determine the permit application is complete and accepted for filing) within 30 days of initial receipt and/or subsequent filings (in the case of incomplete applications).

The permitting staff must grant or deny an application within 15 days of determining the application is administratively complete. Commission rules [16 TAC §1.201(c)(3)] limit supplement filings on incomplete applications to two filings of additional data. Applications that remain incomplete after a second supplemental filing must be denied.

What can be done to expedite permit processing?

The most effective way to expedite permit processing is to file the permit application without errors or omissions and with all necessary attachments and notice. Any potential source of confusion should be explained so that a request for additional information or clarification is not required by the Commission staff.

What if the well doesn't have enough surface casing to meet today's requirements?

If approved, permits for existing wells with short surface casing strings or single string completions will include additional safeguards, such as annual annulus pressure testing and/or periodic annulus pressure monitoring. Applications for existing wells with critically short surface casing strings will be administratively denied unless remedial work is performed to ensure groundwater protection.

NOTE: Cementing the production casing from total depth to surface in lieu of surface casing is not an option for wells being drilled for injection or disposal.

Who must be notified of a disposal/injection well application?

Under 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9(5) (Statewide Rules 9 and 46), notice must be given to the owner record of the surface tract on which the well is located, each Commission designated operator of any well located within ½ mile of the proposed disposal well the county clerk, the city clerk if the well is located within municipal of boundaries, and if well is proposed as commercial, the owners of record of each surface tract that adjoins the disposal tract.

Where can we find information on "unknown wells" within the 1/4 mile radius around the injection/disposal well?

The applicant has a duty to identify all unplugged wells, improperly plugged wells, and any other wells that could serve as a conduit for migration of fluids out of the proposed disposal or injection zone. Potential sources of information regarding wells within the area of review include:

See 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9(7) (Statewide Rules 9 and 46)].

Can fresh water be used as an injection fluid?

Yes, but only if there is no economically or technically feasible alternative. The Commission makes this determination in cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, based on the information provided in the completed Fresh Water Questionnaire and Form H-7, Fresh Water Data Form.

Why do some permits require annual pressure testing, while others require testing only every five years?

The five-year pressure testing requirement applies only to wells meeting the current rule-specified construction standard. Wells that do not meet this construction standard are required to be pressure tested more frequently. The most common reason for an annual test requirement is that surface casing was not set and cemented through the entire zone of usable quality groundwater. [See 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9(12)(C and §3.46(j)(3).  

What if changes have been made to the injection well since the permit was issued?

Each injection/disposal permit is based on the completion and operating parameters as proposed in the application. Any significant change in construction or operation of the well is a potential permit violation and could result in the potential permit being suspended or canceled. [See 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9(6) and §3.46(d) (Statewide Rules 9 and 46)].  

Can a well be permitted as a dual completion for injection and production?

Yes, however, the testing and monitoring requirements are far more involved. Applications must clearly indicate the presence of open perforations outside the injection/disposal interval and propose a testing and monitoring program. Unless expressly allowed by the permit, any perforations outside the permitted injection/disposal interval are treated as casing leaks and must be squeezed and the well successfully pressure tested. 

Is injection at pressures exceeding fracture pressure allowed?

No. All injection and disposal permits require that injected fluids be confined to the authorized zone (not just isolated from ground water zones). Injection at or above formation fracture pressures may allow injected fluids to migrate through the fractures into adjoining zones, or to "go around" the production casing annular cement and escape the authorized zone.

The permit authorizes injection into the Strawn Formation, but the depth stated on the permit includes only part of that formation. Are we authorized to inject into the whole formation or just part of it?

The top and bottom of the permitted injection interval stated on the permit is the only "interval" that is authorized for injection. The permitted top and bottom depths are those depths stated in the application, those depths published in notice to affected parties, and those depths for which the area of review was performed. The permit does not authorize injection into the entire Strawn Formation, only at the interval depths stated in the permit.

The permit requires that injected fluids be confined to the authorized injection interval. The permit is subject to being suspended or terminated if injected fluids are not confined to the permitted injection interval, which is the depth interval stated on the permit, rather than the entire Strawn Formation. [See 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9(6) and §3.46(d) (Statewide Rules 9 and 46)]. Applicants may wish to consider permitting the entire formation rather than a subset, but this is not a requirement.