The Railroad Commission of Texas will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 22 through Friday, Nov. 24 in observance of Thanksgiving. The RRC will reopen for regular business Monday morning, Nov. 27. We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday.
Definitions: A list of terms and definitions. The types of pits mentioned in the rule are identified and defined.
No pollution: No person may cause or allow pollution of surface or subsurface water.
Exploratory wells: Any oil, gas, or geothermal resource well or well drilled for exploratory purposes shall be governed by the provisions of statewide or field rules which are applicable and pertain to drilling, safety, casing, production, abandoning, and plugging of wells.
Pollution control - The heart of Rule 8
Prohibited disposal methods: Any method not authorized by the rule or permitted.
Prohibited pits: Any pits that are not specifically authorized by the rule and for which no permits have been obtained. The only pit absolutely prohibited by the rule is a pit used for the storage of oil.
Pits Requiring Permits: Emergency saltwater storage pits Saltwater disposal pits Collecting pits Skimming pits Brine pits Brine mining pits Drilling fluid storage pits Drilling fluid disposal pits Washout pits Gas plant evaporation/retention pits and any other pit not specifically authorized by the rule
Fresh water condensate
Any except discharge
Landfarming, evaporation pit, etc.
Any except discharge
May be buried in reserve pit. Does not include drilling fluid, lube oil, basic sediment, etc.
Low chloride water base drilling fluid(3000 mg/l or less chlorides)
On lease where generated with written permission of landowner
Must be dewatered
Other drilling fluid
Must be dewatered. Only cuttings from oil base drilling fluid may be buried.
Completion/workover pit wastes
Must be dewatered
Non-commercial fluid recycling pit contents
Must be dewatered
Authorized pits: The rule authorizes the use of several types of pits without a permit. Use of these pits is authorized without a permit only so long as they are operator and backfilled according to the requirements in the rule and only so long as use of the pit does not cause pollution.
Reserve and mud circulation pits
Drilling fluids, cuttings, rig wash, drill stem test fluids, blowout preventer test fluids
Chlorides 6100 mg/l or less - one year to dewater & backfill. Chlorides greater than 6100 mg/l - 30 days to dewater, one year to backfill.
Completion/ workover pits
Spent completion fluids, workover fluids, material cleaned out of wellbore
Dewater in 30 days, backfill 120 days of well completion or completion of workover.
Basic sediment pits
Basic sediment from production vessels or oil storage tanks. No free saltwater or oil.
50 bbl maximum, 250 sq. ft. surface area. Backfill within 120 days of final use.
Liquid hydrocarbons sent to flare or vent, but not burned.
Use only during upset conditions, fluid may remain in the pit no more than 48 hours. Backfill 120 days from final use.
Fresh makeup water pits
No waste in pit.
Backfill within one year from cessation of drilling
Fresh mining water pits
No waste in pit.
Backfill within 120 days of cessation of use.
Water condensate pits
Condensed water vapor from natural gas.
If at gas plant, must be permitted. Backfill within 120 days from final use.
Non-commercial fluid recycling (NCFR) pits*
Fluid for storage for NCFR, or the treated recyclable fluid
Backfill within 120 days of cessation of use.
* Additional requirements for NCFR pits
Pit Design: Pits must be:
- Sufficiently large and have adequate freeboard (minimum of two feet at all times) for precipitation; - Designed to prevent stormwater from entering the pit; constructed with dikes that are structually sound and do not seep; - Lined with a liner that has a hydraulic conductivity 1.0 x 10 -7 cm/s or less.
Monitoring Procedures: Pits must be:
- Emptied and inspected at least annually, or - Have a double liner and leak detection system that is monitored at least monthly. - Records of monitoring must be kept to demonstrate compliance.
District Registration: Operator must provide written notification prior to construction or prior to use of an existing pit for non-commercial fluid recycling, including:
- Location of the pit with lease name and number or drilling permit number, and latitude and longitude; - Dimensions of the pit and maximum capacity of the pit; or - A signed statement that the operator has permission from the surface owner for construction and use of the pit.
All authorized pits must be constructed and operated outside of the 100-year flood plain.
An operator may take any measures necessary to stop or control an unauthorized discharge, and report to the District Office as soon as possible.
Check for permit:
Rule 8 prohibits a person from using an unpermitted carrier or receiver to transport, store, handle, treat, or dispose of oil and gas wastes if the carrier or receiver is required to have a permit.
In other words, it is the waste generator's responsibility to determine if the carrier or receiver he/she uses has a valid oil and gas division permit.
Permits to store, handle, treat and dispose of oil and gas wastes are issued under Statewide Rules 8(drilling fluid disposal, landfarm/landtreatment), 9, 46 (disposal/injection well), and 57 (reclamation plant).
It is in the interest of the generator to document the call when checking on permits.
Cannot cause or allow pollution: No person may cause or allow the improper disposal of oil and gas wastes.
A waste generator causes or allows the improper disposal of waste if he/she uses a carrier or receiver who improperly disposes of the waste, and he/she knew or should have known the improper disposal was likely to occur but failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the disposal
Standards for the issuance of a permit: Permit for pit or disposal issued only if no waste and no pollution (even if minor or emergency permit)
All permits will contain operating conditions including backfilling requirements.
Permits may contain design and construction criteria including:
- Pit construction materials - Dike design - Liner material, thickness, installation procedures and inspection schedules - Overflow warning devices - Leak detection systems - Fences (if commercial)
Application: File a permit application with the Commission in Austin.
Use correct form, if available: - H-11 for pit permit - Letter request for landfarming, produced water discharge, gas plant discharge, hydrostatic test discharge, etc.
File original application with Austin and a copy with appropriate district office.
Notice: Notice of application must be given as required by Rule 8 or permit application instructions.
Protests and Hearings: If an application is protested by an affected person, no permit may be issued unless a hearing is held.
A hearing may also be held on an application if the Director of Environmental Services determines that a hearing is in the public interest.
Permit may be modified, suspended and terminated: A permit issued by the Commission may be modified, suspended, and terminated after notice and opportunity for hearing and for good cause. The following constitute good cause:
- Water pollution is occurring or is likely to occur; - Waste is occurring or is likely to occur; - Permit or rule violation; - Factual misrepresentation in application; - Failure to give notice; and/or - Material change of conditions.
Emergency permits: (not to be confused with permits for emergency saltwater storage pits):
- Speed necessary to prevent waste or pollution (catastrophic events such as blowouts or flooding). - Application to the appropriate district office. - Verbal application possible. Verbal approval possible, with written followup. - No notice required. - Valid for up to 30 days.
Minor permits: Permits to store or dispose of a minor amount of waste.
- Application to district office for routine requests; to Austin for disposal of asbestos, PCB - containing material, hydrostatic test waters, and unusual requests. - Written application necessary. - Notice as required by RRC. - Valid for 60 days.
Minor permit examples:
- Extension of backfilling time for authorized pits; - One-time, annular disposal of drilling fluid; - One-time, off-lease landfarming of low chloride drilling fluid (written permission of landowner required); and - Discharge of hydrostatic test waters used in pipes or storage tanks.
Prohibited recycling: Any recycling of oil and gas waste not authorized by the rule or permitted.
Authorized recycling. 8(a)(41) Non-commercial fluid recycling (NCFR) is:
- Treatment and reuse of fluid produced from an oil or gas well - By the operator or a contractor - On an RRC lease or drilling unit (with a drilling permit), or a non-commercial disposal/injection well lease; and - Fluids may be accepted from other leases or operators.
Reuse of the fluid is authorized:
- For makeup water for frac fluids or another type of oil-field fluid used in the wellbore of an oil, gas, geothermal or service well. - For any use except discharge to surface waters pursuant to a permit issued by another state or federal agency. - For any use except discharge to surface waters if the treatment results in distilled water.
Permitted recycling: Any method of recycling not authorized by rule must be permitted. Any commercial recycling must be permitted in accordance with Chapter 4, Subchapter B.
Pollution prevention (Offshore): Operator shall not pollute the waters of the Texas offshore and adjacent estuarine zones (salt water bearing bays, inlets, and estuaries) or damage the aquatic life therein. Well drilling and production operations must be conducted to preclude pollution of these waters.
- Disposal of liquid waste material limited to salt water and other materials treated to remove harmful constituents; - No oil or other hydrocarbon may be disposed offshore; - All deck areas must be curbed and connected by drain to collecting tank or sump; - Solid combustible waste may be burned & the ashes disposed of offshore; - Drilling muds containing oil must be transported to shore for disposal; - Any person observing pollution shall report; - Immediate corrective action must be taken where pollution has occurred. - RRC may suspend producing and/or drilling operations if provisions of rule are violated.
Oil and gas waste haulers:
Oil and Gas Waste Hauler Permit required for any person who transports oil and gas waste for hire by any method other than by pipeline off a lease, unit or other oil and gas property where it is generated.
Haulers must keep records of daily hauling activities for three years. Hauler records:
- Identity of property from which waste hauled; - Identity of disposal system to which waste hauled; - Type and volume of oil and gas waste received by hauler; - Type and volume of waste transported and delivered by hauler to disposal system.
Exceptions. Oil and Gas Waste Hauler Permit not required to transport:
- Inert waste as defined by Rule 8 - Asbestos-containing material subject to federal regulation - Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) waste subject to federal regulation - Oil and gas waste hauled to be recycled under non-commercial fluid recycling rules - Hazardous oil and gas waste
Haulers must transport non-solid waste in vehicles designed to transport non-solid waste.
Recordkeeping: Amended effective January 28, 1992 to require that generator keep records of oil and gas waste hauled by truck (even if generator's truck) off the lease, unit or other oil and gas property where it is generated for a period of three years from the date the waste was produced, the following records:
- Identity of property from which waste hauled; - Identity of RRC approved facility to which waste hauled; - Name, address, and permit number of waste hauler; and - Type and volume of waste transported each day for disposal.
Penalties: Allows RRC to directly assess a penalty for violation of its pollution control rules after hearing. Maximum is $10,000 per day per violation.
Adoption of Memorandum of Understanding: Clarification of division of jurisdiction among the Railroad Commission, Texas Water Commission, and Texas Department of Health over waste materials that result from or are related to activities associated with exploration for and development, production, and refining of oil or gas.
Consistency with the Texas Coastal Management Program: The following Commission actions are subject to the Coastal Management Program (CMP) if they relate to an activity within the CMP boundary:
- Issuance of permits to store or dispose of oil and gas waste in a pit; - Issuance of permits to discharge oil and gas wastes to surface waters; and - Issuance of certifications of compliance with applicable water quality requirements for federal permits for development in critical areas or dredging and dredged material disposal and placement.