Recycling

The Commission encourages recycling of oil and gas waste. Statewide Rule 8 and Chapter 4, Subchapter B, Commercial Recycling, have been written and amended in order to encourage recycling in the oil field. The Commercial Recycling rules are divided into 5 separate divisions based on the type of oil and gas waste being treated and the location and duration of the treatment operations. The Commercial Recycling rules focus on recycling of drilling fluids and drilling muds for reuse in the well completion process and the recycling of drilling solids for reuse as roadbase. Some fluid recycling operations do not need a permit because they are authorized by Rule 8. Information about Authorized Fluid Recycling can be found at the end of this page. Division 1 outlines general requirements for Commercial Recycling and definitions. The rest of the Divisions of the Commercial Recycling rules are outlined below.

Solids Recycling: Division 2, Division 3 and Division 4

Division 2: On-Lease solid waste recycling for reuse as roadbase is limited to any on-lease location for a maximum of one year. Information must be submitted for application of a permit, including but not limited to a typical layout of the facility, processing information, storage and liner information. The roadbase must meet specific limitations on leachability concentrations of metals, chloride and TPH must be met, in addition to a minimum compressive strength.

Division 3: Off-Lease or Centralized solid waste recycling for reuse as roadbase is limited to any location for a maximum of two years. The requirements for permit of an Off-Lease facility include those of Division 2, and also require site specific environmental and property information because the facility will be at one location longer than one year. The applicant will have to provide notice to the surface owner on which the facility is to be located and adjacent landowners. The permit will also require monitor wells and financial security.

Division 4: Stationary solid waste recycling facilities are permitted for one location for up to five years. After five years, a request for renewal of the permit may be requested. The requirements for permit of a Stationary Recycling facility include those of Division 2 and Division 3, and also require notice be published in accordance with HB480.

To apply for a permit follow each Rule in the applicable Division. Each Division is written as a permitting guide.

ALTERNATIVE BENEFICIAL USES FOR TREATED OIL AND GAS SOLID WASTE 

Environmental Permitting staff has received numerous proposals for alternative uses of treated oil and gas waste solids other than for reuse as roadbase material.  Proposed alternative uses include non-load bearing fill material for construction and bulking agents for cement and treated aggregate for landfill components or cover and capping material.  

Current rules under 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC), Chapter 4, Subchapter B define engineering and environmental standards for recyclable products resulting from the treatment of solid oil and gas waste that will be used as "roadbase or other similar uses."  These rules allow the RRC to establish the appropriate engineering and environmental standards for recyclable products that will be beneficially reused for other purposes, depending on the purpose and location of use.  Permits issued for these purposes limit the reuse of recyclable product to commercial and industrial use as fill material or treated aggregate with additional limitations including end use locations, production volumes, and time constraints.

The guidance document for a Permit Application for Reusable Product follows the same rules found in Chapter 4, Subchapter B for solids recycling with the exception of different testing requirements for the end product.  

Drilling Mud Recycling and Reconditioning

A notice to operators has been issued for reuse of recycled and reconditioned drilling muds.  Used drilling mud, or used drilling fluid, is an oil and gas waste under the jurisdiction of the RRC.  Reconditioning, reformulation, or any treatment of used drilling mud for reuse at a commercial facility requires a permit to operate a Commercial Solid Oil and Gas Waste Recycling Facility in accordance with Chapter 4, Subchapter B, Division 3 or Division 4 (described in the Solids Recycling section above).

A permit from the RRC is not required if used drilling mud is treated by a lease or drilling unit operator or a person contracted by that operator, and the drilling mud is treated on a Commission-designated lease or drilling unit that is associated with a Commission-issued drilling permit.  A permit is also not required if used drilling mud is treated by a facility that is not subject to the jurisdiction of the RRC, such as drilling mud manufacturers, which manufacture drilling mud from raw materials and are subject to the jurisdiction of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).  

To apply for a permit follow each rule in the applicable Division. Each Division is written as a permitting guide.

Fluid Recycling Authorized By Rule

Recycling of wellbore fluids under the jurisdiction of RRC, including produced formation water, completion/workover fluids, and fracture flow-back fluids, may be treated and reused without permit as authorized by Rule 8 (d)(7)(B) and §4.202(d). Under these rules, operators and contractors may recycle fluids from the lease, unit or facility from which the fluid was generated, but also fluids from other leases or operators. Fluid recycling is authorized if the recycling activities are located:

  • On a commission-designated lease or drilling unit associated with a drilling permit.
  • On land leased or owned by the operator of a disposal well.
  • On land leased or owned by the operator of an injection well.

Reuse is contingent on the use being a legitimate commercial use as defined in Chapter 4, Subchapter B and subject to the following conditions:

  1. No permit is needed if reuse of the treated fluid is to be used in the wellbore of an oil or gas well. (i.e. make up of frac fluid)
  2. No permit is needed if the reuse of the treated fluid is pursuant to a permit issued by another state agency or federal agency.
  3. No permit is needed for legitimate commercial reuse if the resultant treated fluid is distilled water.
  4. A permit is required for discharge to waters of the state-- even if the water is distilled.

Fluid Recycling: Division 5 and Division 6

Division 5: Off-Lease Fluid Recycling is limited to any location for a maximum of two years. Information must be submitted for application of a permit, including but not limited to a diagram of the facility, processing information, storage and liner information. Analytical testing requirements must be proposed to ensure efficacy of the processing equipment. Site specific environmental and property information will be required because the facility will be at one location longer than one year. The applicant will have to provide notice to the surface owner on which the facility is to be located and adjacent landowners. The permit will also require monitor wells and financial security.

Division 6: Stationary Fluid Recycling facilities are permitted for one location for up to five years. After five years, a request for renewal of the permit may be requested. The requirements for permit of a Stationary Recycling facility include those of Division 5, and also require notice be published in accordance with HB480.

To apply for a permit follow each rule in the applicable Division. Each Division is written as a permitting guide.

Last Updated: 5/18/2016 4:00:51 PM