News

Agency News Items - 2021

September

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $987,000 in Penalties

    September 15, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $987,232 in fines involving 192 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Tuesday. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Ten dockets involved $588,574 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $42,308 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $356,350 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • RRC Begins Important Steps to Ensure Natural Gas Supply for Weather Emergency Power Generation

    September 14, 2021

    AUSTIN – Today Railroad Commission of Texas commissioners approved publishing for public comment proposed rules for critical designation of natural gas infrastructure during energy emergencies.

    The proposed rules specify the criteria and process for entities associated with providing natural gas to be designated as critical customers or critical gas suppliers during an energy emergency.

    The rules implement House Bill (HB) 3648 and several provisions of Senate Bill (SB) 3, which lawmakers passed in response to February’s Winter Storm Uri.

    Examples of critical infrastructure include, but are not limited to, gas wells, gas processing plants, natural gas storage facilities, and pipelines and pipeline facilities.

    Today’s action is another step in an extensive process RRC staff has engaged in to fortify the state’s energy supply chain and assist residents during future energy emergencies.

    “The draft rules are part of multiple collaborations our agency began during the legislative session,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “We have been working diligently with the Public Utility Commission during the summer to ensure both our agencies’ rules on critical infrastructure go hand-in-hand.”  

    Under the proposed rules operators will be required to submit forms to the RRC acknowledging critical status or seek exception as provided by legislation. Operators will also be providing information on their critical facilities directly to their respective electricity providers.

    The forms are being drafted and will be voted on in an upcoming RRC Commissioners Conference.  

    To view the proposed rules and submit comments online by Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, visit the RRC website at https://rrc.texas.gov/general-counsel/rules/proposed-rules/ under “Chapter 3: Oil and Gas.”

    The RRC will have a public workshop on the draft rules on Oct. 5. Details on that workshop will be provided soon. The rules will be adopted by Dec. 1, 2021.

    The RRC is also continuing work to implement other provisions of SB 3, including collaborating with the Public Utility Commission on mapping critical infrastructure along the state’s electricity supply chain, as well as rules for operators to prepare facilities for weather emergencies.

  • Railroad Commission Exceeds Legislative Goal for Plugging Orphaned Wells for Fifth-Straight Year

    September 13, 2021

    AUSTIN – When it comes to protecting public safety and the environment, the Railroad Commission shows its commitment through its actions.

    The vast majority of operators responsibly plug their wells when production has ceased, but if operators abandon oil and gas wells, RRC’s State Managed Plugging Program steps up to ensure the interests of Texans are protected. In fact, the agency has exceeded the Texas Legislature’s target for plugging orphaned oil and gas wells for the fifth year running, despite challenges brought on by the COVID pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

    The State Managed Plugged Program plugged 1,453 orphaned wells in Fiscal Year 2021, which ended on Aug. 31. The legislative goal was to plug 1,400 wells.

    “I am proud of what our plugging program has been able to accomplish,” said RRC Director of Field Operations Clay Woodul. “Our plugging staff in the district offices deserve credit for staying on top of these projects and making sure they are done properly.”

    Year

    Legislative Goal for RRC
    to Plug Orphaned Wells

    Actual Number of Orphaned Wells Plugged by RRC

    2017

    875

    918

    2018

    979

    1,374

    2019

    979

    1,710

    2020

    1,400

    1,477

    2021

    1,400

    1,453

    The total for FY 21 included a notable collaboration with the National Park Service to plug 11 wells at the Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi (pictures below). The work – which occurred from January to March and received funding from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council – helped preserve precious natural resources for visitors of the park.

    RRC helping plug a well in Padre Island National Seashore RRC helping plug a well in Padre Island National Seashore

    A major benefit of the State Managed Plugging Program is that it provides work to skilled contractors, which is especially important during periods of economic downturn.

    The State Managed Plugging Program is funded through oil and gas industry revenue, including, but not limited to, well plugging reimbursements, fees and financial securities paid by the industry.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for August 2021

    September 03, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 687 original drilling permits in August 2021 compared to 451 in August 2020. The August 2021 total includes 613 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, 10 to re-enter plugged well bores, and 58 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in August 2021 is 149 oil, 53 gas, 452 oil or gas, 21 injection, and 12 other permits.

    In August 2021, Commission staff processed 649 oil, 109 gas and 291 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 1,007 oil, 211 gas, and 197 injection completions in August 2020.

    Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 6,108 compared to 10,804 recorded during the same period in 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:

    https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

     

    TABLE 1 AUGUST 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    77

    67

    6

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    44

    23

    6

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    8

    2

    4

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    5

    0

    0

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    0

    1

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    12

    1

    8

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    12

    2

    0

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    38

    58

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    357

    372

    67

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    30

    3

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    16

    11

    0

    (10) PANHANDLE

    14

    1

    5

    TOTAL

    613

    541

    96

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

August

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $745,000 in Penalties

    August 26, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $746,332 in fines involving 230 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Tuesday. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Ten dockets involved $166,997 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $70,485 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $508,850 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for June 2021

    August 25, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for June 2021 came from 166,923 oil wells and 85,439 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from July 2020 to June 2021, total Texas reported production was 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.1 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 (June 2021): Statewide Production*

    Product

    Preliminary Reported Total Volume

    Average Daily Production

    Crude Oil

    107,174,580 bbls (barrels)

    3,572,486 bbls

    Natural
    Gas

    791,989,055 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    26,399,635 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

     

    TABLE 2 (June 2020): Statewide Production

    Product

    Updated Reported Total Volume

    Updated Average Daily Production

    Preliminary Reported Total Volume

    Preliminary Average Daily Production

    Crude Oil

    116,134,062 bbls

    3,871,135 bbls

    97,800,810 bbls

    3,260,027 bbls

    Natural Gas

    834,465,911 mcf

    27,815,530 mcf

    752,913,319 mcf

    25,097,111 mcf

     

    TABLE 3 (June 2021): Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Crude Oil (bbls)

    1.

    Midland

    15,027,374

    2.

    Martin

    11,613,022

    3.

    Howard

    7,650,470

    4.

    Karnes

    7,535,089

    5.

    Upton

    6,313,449

    6.

    Reeves

    5,652,183

    7.

    Loving

    4,118,909

    8.

    Reagan

    3,677,261

    9.

    Ward

    3,375,322

    10.

    Andrews

    3,240,266

     

    TABLE 4 (June 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Total Gas (mcf)

    1.

    Reeves

    73,479,178

    2.

    Webb

    52,976,913

    3.

    Midland

    50,884,098

    4.

    Panola

    46,843,059

    5.

    Loving

    32,793,619

    6.

    Culberson

    32,471,502

    7.

    Reagan

    27,351,480

    8.

    Karnes

    27,155,672

    9.

    Tarrant

    25,966,353

    10.

    Harrison

    25,672,424

     

    TABLE 5 (June 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Condensate (bbls)

    1.

    Reeves

    5,268,262

    2.

    Loving

    3,736,662

    3.

    Culberson

    2,551,228

    4.

    Karnes

    1,577,007

    5.

    De Witt

    1,112,475

    6.

    Dimmit

    839,822

    7.

    Webb

    772,035

    8.

    Live Oak

    326,492

    9.

    La Salle

    163,572

    10.

    McMullen

    158,537

  • Commissioner Wright Announces Staff Changes

    August 12, 2021

    AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright is pleased to announce that Aaron Krejci has joined the team as the new Director of Public Affairs.

    “I’m excited to have Aaron join my team,” said Commissioner Wright. “His experience in Congress and the Executive Branch to reform and streamline regulations will be an asset to my office and the Commission. I’d also like to thank Kate Zaykowski for her dedication and tireless work during our time together, and I wish her well in the next chapter of her career.”

    Prior to joining Commissioner Wright’s office, Krejci served in the Trump Administration where he worked to promote the Administration’s regulatory reform agenda at the federal and state level, most recently as the Southwest Regional Representative for the U.S. Department of Labor. A native of Plano, Texas, Krejci is a graduate of Texas Tech University with a degree in Political Science.

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.

  • Call 811 Before Digging: Free Service Will Help Keep You Safe

    August 11, 2021

    AUSTIN – The RRC’s mission to protect neighborhoods around Texas extends to helping residents and excavators identify the vast network of underground utilities they need to pay attention to.

    Pipelines and other important underground utilities can easily be severed when unsuspecting individuals dig haphazardly, potentially risking harm. The RRC works with Texas 811 to highlight the critical importance of calling 811 before digging.

    Calling 811 is required by law. By doing so, utility locators will come to your property free of charge and mark areas that should not be dug into. Today, Aug. 11, is the National 811 Day, a reminder of the value of the service.

    Since the Railroad Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention program started on Sept. 1, 2007, the state has made significant progress in reducing incidents resulting in pipeline damage. Pipeline damage is not as common as it used to be because people are calling before digging. In 2008, there were 6.44 pipeline damage incidents per 1,000 requests to locate underground utilities. In 2020, the number has dropped to 2.5 incidents per 1,000 requests to locate.

    Throughout the year, RRC staff attends outreach to ensure the public understands the law and avoids tragic encounters with pipelines. Staff has attended 51 such events, virtually or in-person, so far this fiscal year.

    “While pipelines are the safest means to transport hydrocarbons, they must remain intact to efficiently carry out their intended purpose,” said Ryan Hejl, the Railroad Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention Manager. “It’s not just pipelines that could be under the ground at people’s homes. There could also be water and sewer lines, electric cables, and other utilities. It’s better to call 811 before moving a bunch of dirt and potentially hurting yourself.”

    Texas homeowners, excavators, and contractors are required to call 811 at least two days before digging. The caller tells the location of the dig, and affected pipeline and utility companies in the area will send locators to the dig site to mark the approximate location of buried lines with flags or paint.

    A request to locate can also be made via the Texas811 website at https://www.texas811.org/.

  • Commissioner Wayne Christian Pens Letter to the President on OPEC+ Discussions

    August 11, 2021

    AUSTIN – Today, Commissioner Wayne Christian wrote a letter to President Joe Biden encouraging him to reconsider discussions with OPEC+ and instead unleash the private sector to produce oil domestically in America. You can view the formatted letter here or below:

    Dear Mr. President,

    I write to you concerning the Biden Administration’s recent discussions with OPEC+ to increase the supply of oil by expanding production of foreign oil to lower gasoline prices in America.

    These discussions tacitly acknowledge the important role of fossil fuels for American families to have access to cheap, plentiful, and reliable energy. While I appreciate your support for increasing the production of oil, quite frankly, we do not need to rely on other countries for natural resources we can produce right here at home.

    In recent years, the United States surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the top producer of oil and natural gas in the world — producing a record 12.4 million barrels of oil in August 2019. Unfortunately, over the last two years, COVID-19, ESG investing, and regulatory uncertainty from the federal government have stripped us of our hard-fought energy independence.

    By frequently attempting to weaken the American oil and gas industry you are not reducing emissions, you are merely shipping them overseas while killing American jobs, increasing costs to American consumers, and harming our country’s national security. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy summed it up well when he recently stated that “cutting production in the U.S. only to see that demand met by dirtier producers elsewhere in the world results in more pollution and more environmental damage. Instead, we should be promoting cleaner production here at home.” It is confusing to me why an American president would be so hostile to American industry, jobs, consumers and national security. 

    Here’s the truth. The environment in the United States is getting cleaner, not dirtier. Over the last fifty years, the six major pollutants regulated by the EPA have fallen by 77 percent while the U.S. economy grew 285 percent and its population by 60 percent1. While natural gas production increased more than 50 percent between 1990 and 2017, methane emissions from natural gas decreased by more than 14 percent2. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, between 2005 and 2019, total U.S. electricity generation increased by almost 2 percent while related CO2 emissions fell by 33 percent3.

    Meanwhile, China — already the largest carbon emitter on Earth4 — commissioned more coal-fired electric generation capacity last year than the rest of the world retired5. More than 50 percent of the raw materials required to make solar panels and wind turbines are now mined in China by power generated from fossil fuels6. This means wind and solar generated electricity in the United States isn’t reducing global carbon emissions, it is just outsourcing them to China.

    Mr. President, I implore you to reverse course on your policy decisions and rhetoric regarding American oil and natural gas. “Freezing” new oil and gas exploration on federal lands and revoking the permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline provide negligible environmental benefits compared to its cost. Climate change is not the same thing as a climate crisis, and these public policy decisions are harming real Americans living paycheck to paycheck.

    America has proven we do not need to rely on OPEC+ or any other nation for our energy needs. We can produce the natural resources we need right here at home. History has shown us time and time again that oil and natural gas production and a clean environment are not mutually exclusive. America has proven that through technological innovation we can maintain a clean environment AND achieve energy independence.

    Thank you,

    Wayne Christian
    Railroad Commissioner
    State of Texas

    Citations:
    1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-05/2019_baby_graphic_1970.png
    2. https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2019-02/documents/us-ghg-inventory-2019-chapter-3-energy.pdf
    3. https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/pdf/2019_co2analysis.pdf
    4. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/chinas-greenhouse-gas-emissions-exceed-those-of-all-other-developed-countries-combined/ 
    5. https://globalenergymonitor.org/press-release/new-report-record-coal-plant-retirements-in-u-s-and-eu-offset-by-china-coal-plant-boom-in-2020/
    6. https://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/energy/article/Energy-security-fears-rise-anew-in-shift-to-clean-16039857.php

     

    A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven Sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren. You can learn more about Commissioner Christian here: https://www.rrc.texas.gov/About-Us/Commissioners/Wayne-Christian/.

  • RRC Exceeds Legislative Target Ahead of Schedule for Pipeline Safety Inspections

    August 05, 2021

    AUSTIN – No priority is higher for the Railroad Commission than protection of public safety and the environment, which is why the agency has robust inspection programs for the industries it regulates.

    Among the areas the RRC has been excelling in is with pipeline safety special investigations. In fact, the agency had completed more than 1,800 such inspections by early August. The Legislature’s target measure for the agency is 1,200 accident and special investigations by the end of August.

    This is the seventh year in a row the commission has exceeded the legislative goal.

    The RRC enforces both state and federal regulations for more than 248,000 miles of intrastate pipelines, including natural gas and LP-gas distribution lines, hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission lines, and hazardous liquid and natural gas regulated gathering lines.

    In addition to regular comprehensive inspections, special investigations involve program evaluations of nearly 1,600 operators in the state on behalf of the federal Pipeline Safety and Hazardous Materials Administration. This includes RRC pipeline inspectors looking at such things as operation and maintenance manuals, operator qualification manuals, integrity management plans, distribution plans, and more.

    “These types of inspections require inspectors to have certain types of qualifications required by the federal government,” said Stephanie Weidman, RRC Director of Pipeline Safety. “Our inspector retention levels are higher than they ever have been which allows us to continue to qualify more inspectors and complete more inspections.”

    RRC’s pipeline safety inspectors make it possible for the state to be a leader in pipelines, which are the most efficient means to safely transport large amounts of natural gas, oil, and other hazardous liquids. The Texas Pipeline Association estimates that a 20-inch pipeline running 50 miles can replace 1,650 tanker trucks carrying oil on the road. Pipelines also help reduce flaring by alleviating potential backing up of supply at the point of production.

      
    Above: Pipeline project in Blanco County and construction in Hill Country.

    In recent sessions, the Legislature has assisted RRC’s mission to ensure safety with additional funding for pipeline safety and inspectors.

    As part of the agency’s computer system modernization, it launched the online Pipeline Inspection Permitting and Evaluation System (RRC PIPES) in July. RRC PIPES is a centralized portal in which RRC staff and operators upload documents, including inspection and incident reports, and make more documents available to the public online.

  • Wright: Reduce Emissions and Fix the Grid by Incentivizing Better Natural Gas Infrastructure

    August 05, 2021

    By Jim Wright

    This summer, as hot temperatures put stress on our state’s electrical grid, Texas officials are continuing to reflect on the important lessons we learned from Winter Storm Uri. One perhaps stands above the rest: preparation for the unexpected is a daily commitment. We cannot adequately manage crises if we do not constantly assess and invest in the resources and infrastructure necessary to protect our energy systems.

    Nowhere was this truth more evident this year than in our state’s electrical grid. Electricity demand rose sharply as temperatures plunged in February. As millions of Texans lost power, they lost the ability to warm their homes and stay safe amid some of the lowest temperatures our state has seen in decades.

    Texas is blessed with incredible natural resources, and as an elected official, I am charged with ensuring state government properly manages those resources to best serve our fellow citizens.

    The Permian Basin alone is home to nearly 300 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — enough to meet the household demand of the entire United States for 60 years. In other words, supply is not a problem. Rather, it is an opportunity. We must use the resources we have here at home to ensure our state’s electrical grid is reliable, no matter the circumstance.

    Indeed, Texas power generation emissions have dropped 15 percent from 2011 to 2018 thanks to a gradual decrease in coal-fired generation and a rise in natural gas generation. That decrease is despite a well-known population boom and the accompanying increased power demand over the past decade.

    But simply having abundant supplies of natural gas is not enough. We had abundant supplies in February, and we still experienced a catastrophic grid failure.

    The key is ensuring that abundant supply is readily available for use at power generation facilities across the state. To achieve that goal, we must get serious about energy infrastructure investments from pipes to power plants. Moving natural gas from where it’s sourced, turning it into electricity and getting it to where it’s needed should be our top priority.

    Pipelines are the safest and fastest method to transport natural gas to power plants. Pipelines also address emissions by reducing the industry practice of flaring gas during the production of oil.

    Operators do not want to flare — after all, they are burning the very product they need to sell. While it is sometimes a necessary safety practice when produced gas builds up and is not able to be transported or stored, operators in Texas have dramatically reduced the percentage of gas flared. The associated or “stranded” gas that is produced alongside oil should be connected to local, regional and even global markets but the economics must be right to do so.

    Incentivizing natural gas pipelines and power plants by granting natural gas similar tax subsidies to renewable energy could help us reach this goal. By doing this and utilizing carbon capture techniques at the plants, we can reduce flaring and zero out emissions, all while benefiting Texans and the environment.

    Storage is another key infrastructure investment that can unlock the potential of natural gas to provide a more reliable grid. Unlike renewables, such as wind and solar, natural gas can be stored long-term and used when it’s needed most. That is a critical distinction, particularly during an unprecedented weather event like Uri.

    So, how do we implement these solutions in a manner that benefits all Texans?

    The state and federal government should consider leveling the playing field between renewables and abundant, affordable and reliable Texas natural gas. Equalizing these incentives could assist with necessary infrastructure investments that guarantee ample supplies of this important Texas resource are available whenever they are needed.

    Further, Texans would ultimately benefit from lower electricity bills and greater peace of mind knowing that the electrical grid is prepared for surges in demand like what we experienced earlier this year. 

    Proper preparation for a crisis event like another Winter Storm Uri is essential to mitigating its devastating impacts. And although Texas has all the resources and tools it needs, that abundance won’t do us much good if we don’t put in place the incentives and policies necessary to grow the infrastructure that ensures energy is delivered to customers when they need it most.

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children. Read more about Commissioner Wright here.

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $620,000 in Penalties

    August 04, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $621,604 in fines involving 151 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Tuesday. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Ten dockets involved $238,895 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $74,459 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $308,250 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for July 2021

    August 03, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 779 original drilling permits in July 2021 compared to 351 in July 2020. The July 2021 total includes 672 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, 11 to re-enter plugged well bores, and 83 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in July 2021 is 172 oil, 65 gas, 508 oil or gas, 26 injection, and eight other permits.

    In July 2021, Commission staff processed 475 oil, 162 gas and 182 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 1,125 oil, 211 gas, and 367 injection completions in July 2020.

    Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 5,116 compared to 9,510 recorded during the same period in 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:

    https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

     

    TABLE 1 JULY 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    71

    51

    19

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    69

    91

    31

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    8

    9

    2

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    11

    0

    2

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    0

    1

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    30

    1

    29

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    22

    5

    2

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    50

    52

    4

    (8) MIDLAND

    351

    178

    40

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    11

    9

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    41

    8

    4

    (10) PANHANDLE

    8

    1

    9

    TOTAL

    672

    406

    142

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

July

  • Christian: A Storm of Hypocrisy

    July 29, 2021

    By Wayne Christian

    While no form of energy performed perfectly during Winter Storm Uri, the insistence that natural gas producers are the primary culprit for the February blackouts is pure hyperbole. 

    But more than just hyperbolic, it is hypocritical to blame a lack of natural gas for an electricity shortage during a weather emergency and then gleefully support Democrats who are trying to get rid of natural gas. You can’t do your best to stop the development of natural gas infrastructure and then be upset when there isn’t enough natural gas to power our society.

    Take for example the coverage of the Houston Chronicle’s business columnist, Chris Tomlinson. Tomlinson has frequently written missives about the viability of wind and solar leading to a carbon neutral power grid by 2035.

    And yet, since the winter storm, Tomlinson has been on a rampage blaming the unreliability of our grid on a lack of natural gas. In his latest piece, Tomlinson even went as far to admit: “Wind and solar are essential sources of power, but they are not what ERCOT depends on in an emergency.”

    It is inconsistent to assert we no longer need fossil fuels to power our society out of one side of his mouth and then out of the other blame a lack of fossil fuels for our shortage of energy. Here are the facts:

    During Winter Storm Uri, natural gas outperformed other sources of energy. On average, natural gas represented 46 percent of the electricity on the ERCOT-managed electric grid in 2020 while wind represented 23 percent. During Winter Storm Uri, natural gas generated 67 percent, while wind generated less than 6 percent.

    Wind and solar are not as clean as people think. More than 50 percent of the raw materials required to make solar panels and wind turbines are now mined in China by power generated by fossil fuels. China is the largest carbon emitter on Earth and commissioned more coal-fired electric generation capacity last year than the rest of the world retired. We are not reducing our emissions, we are just shipping them overseas.

    The issue isn’t the existence of wind and solar energy. It’s that they are inherently unreliable and have displaced reliable generation, like natural gas. Democrats and the green energy lobby in Austin have secured massive subsidies for wind and solar, while imposing punitive regulations on reliable sources of energy.

    For example, natural gas is required to replace any power it cannot generate on the spot market. Wind and solar, however, are not. This gives wind and solar energy producers a massive economic advantage. Because of this, wind and solar are always able to make money, whether they are successful or not. 

    Because of these incredibly unfair market conditions, future planned generation heavily favors unreliable forms of energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Texas plans to build power plants that will generate 11.6 gigawatts (GW) of solar electricity, 8.4 GW of wind electricity, and only 5 GW of natural gas electricity. Why build natural gas power plants when politicians in Austin guarantee your wind farm will be profitable no matter what?

    Texas is growing by hundreds of thousands of residents each year. If our energy mix is not corrected soon, we will face blackouts as often as they do in California. Don’t believe me? ERCOT issued an alert urging energy conservation on a mild spring day in April earlier this year. That is not a good sign of things to come, and frankly, we will never fix the issue if we keep misdiagnosing the cause in the spirit of political correctness. 

  • Flaring Intensity in Texas Continues Downward Trend

    July 28, 2021

    AUSTIN – Oil and gas producers in Texas are contributing to a positive long-term trend in Texas as the rate of flaring in the state continues to fall.

    As seen in the chart below, the most recent Railroad Commission production data shows that the percentage of natural gas flared compared to the natural gas produced from oil and gas wells in Texas dropped from a high of 2.29% in June 2019 to 0.65% in May 2021. During the same period, the volume of gas flared decreased by approximately 73%.

    The average percentage of natural gas flared has remained below 2% statewide since October 2019, making Texas one of the lowest in flaring rates among all large producing states in the nation.

    This means the vast majority of natural gas is being captured and used for beneficial purposes, which is a much-needed fuel for electric generation; a basis for alternative fuels, LNG, CNG, and LPG; and used in a wide variety of products, such as plastics, synthetic fibers for advanced clothing, paints, fertilizers​, medicines, antifreeze, and more.

    “The facts are clear. Texas is seeing significantly reduced flaring rates as a result of improved technologies, infrastructure and regulatory processes,” said RRC Chairman Christi Craddick. “Through hard work and collaboration, Texans are better off with more natural gas available for beneficial use. I am grateful for the efforts of Railroad Commission staff and the commitment from operators to reduce flaring rates and look forward to continued progress.”

    “A clean environment and a thriving oil and gas industry are not mutually exclusive,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “Technological innovation has allowed operators to reduce waste, without impacting the tremendous impact oil and gas production has on our economy, state budget and our goal of energy independence.”

    “The numbers released today are particularly notable given Texas’ outsized contributions to our nation’s energy needs,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “According to EIA in 2020, Texas produced one-fourth of the nation's natural gas, and annual production reached a high of more than 10 trillion cubic feet for the second year in a row. These trendlines reaffirm our commitment to utilizing our natural resources safely and efficiently.”

    Since spring 2020, RRC has been working to improve its processes to reduce flaring in the state. Actions that the agency’s commissioners have taken, following periods of public input, include:

    • On Nov. 4, approved a revamped Form R-32, Application for Exception to Statewide Rule 32, which provides specific guidance on when an exception to flare would be permissible, under which circumstances, and for how long. The new procedures with the form generally tighten up periods for administrative exceptions to flare gas, provides incentives for operators to use technologies that reduce flaring, require operators to provide specific justification for their need for an exception to flare and provides additional data points to facilitate compliance audits.
    • On Feb. 23, approved a revised Form PR, Monthly Production Report, which is being phased in and will be in full effect on Jan. 1. The revised form requires operators to report the amount of gas flared and the amount of gas vented as separate values on the monthly report instead of as a single value for an entire lease, putting RRC in better position to track compliance and correct potential violations.

    In addition to the actions by commissioners, RRC launched an online system for requesting exceptions to Rule 32, resulting in better data collection and analysis.

    Operators also have a right to request a hearing for requests for an exception to flare, which are ultimately decided upon by commissioners. For those cases, Hearings Division staff have more critically examined long-term hearing requests and have limited the outcomes of these requests.

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for May 2021

    July 23, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for May 2021 came from 163,777 oil wells and 85,606 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from June 2020 to May 2021, total Texas reported production was 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.1 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 (May 2021): Statewide Production*

    Product

    Preliminary Reported Total Volume

    Average Daily Production

    Crude Oil

    112,719,857 bbls (barrels)

    3,636,124 bbls

    Natural Gas

    818,825,363 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    26,413,721 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

     

    TABLE 2 (May 2020): Statewide Production

    Product

    Updated Reported Total Volume

    Updated Average Daily Production

    Preliminary Reported Total Volume

    Preliminary Average Daily Production

    Crude Oil

    109,268,998 bbls

    3,524,806 bbls

    91,062,814 bbls

    2,937,510 bbls

    Natural Gas

    825,293,227 mcf

    26,622,362 mcf

    734,645,548 mcf

    23,698,243 mcf

     

    TABLE 3 (May 2021): Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Crude Oil (bbls)

    1.

    Midland

    16,127,487

    2.

    Martin

    12,166,361

    3.

    Howard

    8,614,951

    4.

    Karnes

    7,652,045

    5.

    Reeves

    6,661,441

    6.

    Upton

    6,227,160

    7.

    Loving

    4,691,082

    8.

    Reagan

    3,822,480

    9.

    Ward

    3,271,997

    10.

    Andrews

    3,212,222

     

    TABLE 4 (May 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Total Gas (mcf)

    1.

    Reeves

    81,863,356

    2.

    Webb

    63,302,903

    3.

    Midland

    53,010,920

    4.

    Panola

    43,661,432

    5.

    Culberson

    34,925,074

    6.

    Loving

    33,166,603

    7.

    Reagan

    27,371,109

    8.

    Tarrant

    27,306,719

    9.

    Martin

    26,825,832

    10.

    Upton

    25,308,349

     

    TABLE 5 (May 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Condensate (bbls)

    1.

    Reeves

    5,936,102

    2.

    Loving

    3,322,339

    3.

    Culberson

    2,834,163

    4.

    DeWitt

    1,424,790

    5.

    Karnes

    1,245,740

    6.

    Dimmit

    903,314

    7.

    Webb

    867,707

    8.

    Live Oak

    367,561

    9.

    Ward

    168,674

    10.

    McMullen

    164,034

     

  • Newly Launched PIPES Online System Improves Access to RRC’s Pipeline Records, Enhances Transparency

    Program Allows Operators to Upload Files to Agency Digitally
    July 12, 2021

    AUSTIN – In yet another move to take advantage of improvements in technologies, the Railroad Commission today launched its new Pipeline Inspection Permitting Evaluation System (RRC PIPES).

    RRC PIPES is a centralized cloud-based portal, which streamlines agency processes and provides a valuable tool for RRC’s Pipeline Safety staff and operators to upload documents, including inspection and incident reports, and complaints, while automatically making more documents available to the public.

    Not only does the new system improve transparency, allowing the public to see inspection and violation information 24/7, but it reduces staff time spent working on data entry and processing open records requests, helping Pipeline Safety staff focus more of their efforts on the oversight of about 1,600 operators and 248,000 miles of intrastate pipelines which include: natural gas and LP-gas distribution lines; hazardous liquid and natural gas transmission lines; and hazardous liquid, and natural gas regulated gathering lines.

    Inspection packages uploaded by pipeline inspectors are made publicly available once the internal review process has been completed and a letter has been sent to the operator.

    The system also makes it easier for operators. It reduces the amount of paperwork they must mail to the RRC and allows for the payment of fees online. Operators may, after becoming authenticated users, now submit and upload applications and other documents for review and approval by the RRC.

    “PIPES is the latest example of our work to modernize the Railroad Commission and take advantage of the most advanced digital tools available,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “Our goal is to find efficiencies where we can so staff can focus on their core duties. PIPES makes data more readily available for us to analyze and for the public to view. Online systems like PIPES help us better serve the public and help with the experience of operators in complying with our rules and requirements.”

    Other recent advancements at the RRC include the launching of an award-wining database in 2019 called RRC OIL (Online Inspection Lookup), which is updated daily and allows the public to see inspection and violation information 24/7, and the CASES portal (Case Administration Service Electronic System) in 2020, which enabled the agency to process all hearings and enforcement case types electronically, reducing the reliance on paper and automatically making documents for the cases available to the public.

    The RRC PIPES portal can be accessed via this webpage. A user guide is available on the page.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for June 2021

    July 09, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 739 original drilling permits in June 2021 compared to 312 in June 2020. The June 2021 total includes 638 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, seven to re-enter plugged well bores, and 84 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in June 2021 is 171 oil, 37 gas, 501 oil or gas, 24 injection, and six other permits.

    In June 2021, Commission staff processed 507 oil, 158 gas and 128 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 1,031 oil, 300 gas, and 371 injection completions in June 2020.

    Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 4,155 compared to 7,930 recorded during the same period in 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:

    https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

    TABLE 1 JUNE 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    40

    30

    14

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    25

    38

    42

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    21

    17

    7

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    12

    0

    2

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    2

    0

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    14

    3

    11

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    14

    9

    0

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    48

    60

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    416

    278

    40

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    17

    4

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    19

    5

    15

    (10) PANHANDLE

    10

    0

    7

    TOTAL

    638

    444

    138

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

  • Railroad Commission’s Underground Injection Control Program Recognized in EPA Report

    July 07, 2021

    AUSTIN – In a new report, EPA Region 6 once again commended the Railroad Commission’s Underground Injection Control program for protecting underground sources of drinking water and controlling seismic activity.

    RRC’s UIC program, which handles the most Class II injection well applications in the nation, carries out state and EPA-approved rules on permitting, construction, and testing of underground injection wells.

    Injection wells are used to dispose of waste fluid from oil and gas operations, especially saltwater; for brine mining; for enhanced oil recovery, which prolongs the life of oil and gas fields; and for hydrocarbon storage. Injection wells are located in underground formations geologically isolated from aquifers that are sources of drinking water.

    In his letter accompanying the report, EPA Region 6 Water Division Director Charles Maguire wrote:

    The Railroad Commission continues to confront significant challenges in the program and has taken some innovative measures to address them in a year complicated by the Covid pandemic. We wish to thank you and your staff for your work in protecting underground sources of drinking water from underground injection activities under your authority. We appreciate the continued attention to issues related to permitting disposal wells in seismically active areas of the Permian Basin and the continued attention on problematic areas in East Texas resulting in a consistent system for evaluating seismic hazards near disposal wells and application of appropriate permitting conditions.

    “We take a lot of pride in our UIC program, which is informed by the best available science to protect groundwater and control seismicity,” said Paul Dubois, RRC Assistant Director for Technical Permitting. “While we do like to be recognized for our efforts, we appreciate all critical feedback the EPA provides in its annual review of our program, which helps us to improve and better serve Texans.”

    The full Fiscal Year 2020 EPA Region 6 End-of-Year Evaluation Railroad Commission of Texas Underground Injection Control Program is available on the RRC’s website.

  • Texas Legislature Shows Railroad Commission Support with Budget for Upcoming Fiscal Year

    July 02, 2021

    AUSTIN – Texas owes much to its abundance of energy resources, which the Railroad Commission oversees.

    The oil and gas industry accounts for roughly 30% of the state’s economy, including $16.3 billion in royalties and taxes paid in 2019, according to the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association.

    The Texas Legislature, recognizing the importance of these resources to the state, showed continued support for the RRC by approving most of the Commission’s requests during its recent session, which ended on May 31.

    The RRC’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins on Sept. 1, was approved at $144.4 million, which enables the agency to continue to fulfill its most critical mission of protecting public safety and the environment.

    The agency regulates the broad spectrum of the state’s vital energy industry, including oil and gas; surface mining of coal and uranium; the alternative fuels of LNG, CNG, and LPG; intrastate pipelines and natural gas utilities. The Legislature’s funding allows the RRC to continue its important work in permitting, compliance and enforcement. The RRC will also be working on weatherization regulations to secure critical gas infrastructure.

    RRC’s track record of meeting legislative targets speaks for itself with the agency, despite the pandemic, having already exceeded or on track to exceed legislative goals for the current fiscal year, which ends August 31. Examples of goals already exceeded include:

    • Number of oil and gas well and facility inspections performed: exceeded the 189,367 goal four months ahead of schedule in April.
    • Number of accident and special pipeline investigations: exceeded the 1,200 target in April.

    In recent years, the RRC has been working to modernize its computing systems and move away from its reliance on its aging mainframe system. In its last session, the Legislature provided $21.5 million in House Bill 2 for RRC’s Mainframe Transformation Phase 2. That project will move several permitting processes off the current mainframe system into a more robust cloud-based platform, which further improve efficiencies at the agency and make more data readily available to the public.

    Challenges still lie ahead. Despite the price of oil being above $70 per barrel, there has been a slow recovery in drilling permit activity, which has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels. But the agency is keeping a watch on various points of data to track rebounds in the industry.

June

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for April 2021

    June 28, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for April 2021 came from 166,794 oil wells and 85,647 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from May 2020 to April 2021, total Texas reported production was 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.0 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 (April 2021): Statewide Production*

    Product

    Preliminary Reported Total Volume

    Average Daily Production

    Crude Oil

    110,990,696 bbls (barrels)

    3,699,690 bbls

    Natural Gas

    799,163,896 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    26,638,797 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

     

    TABLE 2 (April 2020): Statewide Production

    Product

    Updated Reported Total Volume

    Updated Average Daily Production

    Preliminary Reported Total Volume

    Preliminary Average Daily Production

    Crude Oil

    129,007,307 bbls

    4,300,244 bbls

    104,819,008 bbls

    3,493,967 bbls

    Natural Gas

    878,167,688 mcf

    29,272,256 mcf

    747,706,903 mcf

    24,923,563 mcf

     

    TABLE 3 (April 2021): Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Crude Oil (bbls)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    15,860,204

    2.

    MARTIN

    11,402,565

    3.

    HOWARD

    8,271,847

    4.

    KARNES

    7,145,544

    5.

    UPTON

    6,436,621

    6.

    REEVES

    6,276,377

    7.

    LOVING

    4,641,107

    8.

    REAGAN

    3,596,320

    9.

    WARD

    3,420,084

    10.

    LA SALLE

    3,303,472

     

    TABLE 4 (April 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Total Gas (mcf)

    1.

    REEVES

    83,075,853

    2.

    WEBB

    55,035,911

    3.

    MIDLAND

    50,391,506

    4.

    PANOLA

    44,433,894

    5.

    CULBERSON

    33,498,385

    6.

    LOVING

    32,586,094

    7.

    HARRISON

    27,590,580

    8.

    TARRANT

    26,665,488

    9.

    REAGAN

    25,726,908

    10.

    MARTIN

    25,687,208

     

    TABLE 5 (April 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    Rank

    County

    Condensate (bbls)

    1.

    REEVES

    6,184,175

    2.

    LOVING

    3,209,249

    3.

    CULBERSON

    2,749,681

    4.

    DE WITT

    1,306,327

    5.

    KARNES

    904,904

    6.

    DIMMIT

    891,616

    7.

    WEBB

    819,696

    8.

    LIVE OAK

    323,433

    9.

    MCMULLEN

    173,419

    10.

    WARD

    166,894

  • RRC Begins Implementing Legislative Bill to Bring Rate Relief to Customers of State’s Natural Gas Utilities

    June 24, 2021

    AUSTIN – Thanks to prudent action by the Texas Legislature, relief is on the way for customers of the state’s gas utilities who were facing potentially high gas bills resulting from Winter Storm Uri.

    On June 16, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 1520, which directs the RRC and the Texas Public Finance Authority to work together to issue customer rate-relief bonds, the proceeds of which gas utilities would use to pay for the extraordinary cost of natural gas due to high demand during February’s winter storm.

    The bonds would provide rate relief to customers by allowing gas utilities to recover the extraordinary cost of gas through customer bills over a longer time period, rather than potentially through a single billing statement. The bill provides financial relief to gas utilities that choose to apply for the bonds by providing for a low-cost source of financing to fulfill outstanding obligations to natural gas suppliers.

    A gas utility that chooses to participate in the process would submit information and documentation to the RRC regarding its extraordinary costs to procure natural gas during Winter Storm Uri. The agency would review the application and, if the agency determines that issuing bonds is cost-effective, direct the Texas Public Finance Authority to issue bonds. The RRC sent gas utilities a Notice to Operators providing further information related to the bill.

    “Throughout my time at the Railroad Commission of Texas and especially in the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri, consumer protection has been a priority,” said Chairman Christi Craddick. “I am grateful to the Legislature for passing this important bill and look forward to working with my colleagues and agency staff to ensure that we prevent any undue burden on natural gas customers who might have experienced extraordinarily high gas bills otherwise.”

    “High demand for energy during the storm caused gas prices to rise and utilities incurred extraordinary gas costs to procure the supply needed to maintain service,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “HB 1520 allows for the high cost of gas from the storm to be securitized, utilizing the creditworthiness of our state to lower interest rates. This will ensure our constituents do not receive large, unexpected bills from their natural gas utility provider in the wake of Winter Storm Uri.”

    “I commend the members of the Texas Legislature for getting this across the goal line,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “Winter Storm Uri was an unprecedented event, and Texans should not have to shoulder the cost alone. Securitization will allow gas utilities to remain afloat while lessening the burden on their customers.”

    House Bill 1520 was authored by Representative Chris Paddie and sponsored by Senator Kelly Hancock.

    Gas supply was uninterrupted for a vast majority of Texas residents during Winter Storm Uri: 99.5 percent of customers connected to natural gas maintained service during the storm.

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $320,000 in Penalties

    June 23, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $322,888 in fines involving 75 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Tuesday. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Ten dockets involved $186,788 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $3,000 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $133,100 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • RRC Commissioners Finalize FY 2022 Oil and Gas Monitoring and Enforcement Plan

    June 22, 2021

    AUSTIN – RRC’s commissioners today put a final stamp of approval on the agency’s Fiscal Year 2022 Oil and Gas Monitoring and Enforcement Plan. The plan outlines the Railroad Commission’s strategic priorities in its oversight of the oil and gas industry and ensuring the protection of public safety and the environment.

    The industry is critical for powering the Texas economy and also necessary in many of the everyday products we depend upon: from clothes, medicines, computers and more. Through its stable regulation of oil and gas production, the RRC ensures these resources will be available for generations to come.

    The plan affirms the RRC’s commitment to inspecting every oil and gas facility at least once every five years. It provides an overview of penalties and procedures and a current snapshot of various violations and the agency’s progress.

    For example, in April of this year, four months ahead of schedule, the RRC exceeded its FY 2021 legislative performance target for the number of completed oil and gas well and facility inspections. By mid-June, 236,466 such inspections had been conducted. The RRC had also exceeded the five-year well inspection frequency goal for the fiscal year. It did so in January, seven months ahead of the end of the fiscal year.

    “RRC’s oil and gas staff deserves praise for their exemplary performance and hard work, despite recent challenges,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “However, we always strive for even bigger successes, and the Oil and Gas Monitoring and Enforcement Plan provides a pathway for us to do just that.”

    Among the goals for the agency are the continued upgrade and modernization of its computing systems away from a legacy mainframe to cloud-based software that utilizes tools to improve reporting and efficiencies.

    For systems that have already been developed, the agency is refining and expanding capabilities. For instance, inspectors utilize a system called Inspection, Compliance, and Enforcement (ICE). Additional information will be added for certain types of inspections, such as well plugging and mechanical integrity tests. Also, an H2S indicator and GPS location will be integrated, alerting inspectors to potential hazards.

    Another goal is to improve training for oil and gas staff. In 2019, the agency implemented a highly successful program for inspectors with fewer than two years of service. During COVID-19, training had to move to a virtual format. The lessons learned from the change presents the opportunity for expanded professional development for other oil and gas personnel, including administrative and technical staff based in Austin.

    While the agency will continue to leverage the virtual space to provide expanded educational opportunities to its regulated community, it intends to provide in-person training in FY 2022, including its annual regulatory conference in Austin, regulatory forums around the state, and presentations at industry events.

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $435,000 in Penalties

    June 09, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $437,438 in fines involving 142 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on June 8. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Ten dockets involved $112,090 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $51,998 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $273,350 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for May 2021

    June 02, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 631 original drilling permits in May 2021 compared to 251 in May 2020. The May 2021 total includes 551 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, three to re-enter plugged well bores, and 75 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in May 2021 is 157 oil, 67 gas, 378 oil or gas, 21 injection, and eight other permits.

    In May 2021, Commission staff processed 457 oil, 141 gas and 134 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 919 oil, 300 gas, and 117 injection completions in May 2020.

    Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 3,595 compared to 6,589 recorded during the same period in 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:

    https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

     

    TABLE 1 MAY 2021

    TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    87

    11

    10

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    22

    39

    13

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    29

    11

    6

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    5

    0

    9

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    1

    2

    1

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    15

    1

    20

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    15

    13

    1

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    44

    30

    1

    (8) MIDLAND

    287

    268

    41

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    18

    7

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    20

    13

    2

    (10) PANHANDLE

    8

    2

    2

    TOTAL

    551

    397

    106

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

May

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for March 2021

    May 25, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for March 2021 came from 167,206 oil wells and 81,194 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from April 2020 to March 2021, total Texas reported production was 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 9.9 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 (March 2021): Statewide Production*

    PRODUCT

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    114,487,044 BBLS (barrels)

    3,693,130 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    775,871,319 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    25,028,107 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

    TABLE 2 (March 2020): Statewide Production

    PRODUCT

    UPDATED REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    UPDATED AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    PRELIMINARY AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    141,943,105 BBLS

    4,578,810 BBLS

    107,220,998 BBLS

    3,458,742 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    938,794,574 mcf

    30,283,696 mcf

    717,299,990 mcf

    23,138,709 mcf


    TABLE 3
    (March 2021): Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CRUDE OIL (BBLS)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    17,106,199

    2.

    MARTIN

    11,538,132

    3.

    HOWARD

    8,416,030

    4.

    KARNES

    6,857,762

    5.

    UPTON

    6,448,734

    6.

    REEVES

    6,212,973

    7.

    LOVING

    5,001,936

    8.

    REAGAN

    3,638,969

    9.

    WARD

    3,555,878

    10.

    LA SALLE

    3,544,550


    TABLE 4 (March 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    TOTAL GAS (MCF)

    1.

    REEVES

    77,752,881

    2.

    WEBB

    52,975,459

    3.

    MIDLAND

    49,123,080

    4.

    PANOLA

    37,637,460

    5.

    CULBERSON

    32,018,716

    6.

    LOVING

    31,068,888

    7.

    TARRANT

    27,076,902

    8.

    REAGAN

    25,525,254

    9.

    MARTIN

    23,922,412

    10.

    UPTON

    22,921,190


    TABLE 5 (March 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CONDENSATE (BBLS)

    1.

    REEVES

    6,015,252

    2.

    LOVING

    3,221,731

    3.

    CULBERSON

    2,489,461

    4.

    DE WITT

    1,362,610

    5.

    DIMMIT

    910,963

    6.

    WEBB

    784,961

    7.

    KARNES

    784,720

    8.

    LIVE OAK

    310,629

    9.

    WARD

    259,815

    10.

    MCMULLEN

    196,645

  • Christian Passes Key Resolutions At IOGCC

    Texas Defends States Rights at Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission
    May 18, 2021

    AUSTIN – Today, Commissioner Wayne Christian authored and passed three resolutions to protect states’ rights, protect consumers, and encourage technological innovation in the oil and gas industry.

    Resolution 21.052 - Opposition to the CLEAN Future Act : This resolution co-sponsored by Texas and North Dakota asks the Biden Administration and Congress to oppose the CLEAN Future Act and other similar pieces of legislation on behalf of oil and gas producing states.

    “The so-called CLEAN Future Act is nothing more than the Green New Deal in lipstick,” said Christian. “This legislation would effectively federalize regulation of oil and gas, increasing costs to consumers and our national debt, while harming our energy independence and national security.” 

    Resolution 21.054 - Reigning in ESG-style Investing : This resolution asks the federal government to formulate and enforce regulations relating to Environmental, Social, and Governance Funds (ESG). This style of investing has been utilized by activists to force divestment in oil and gas without regard to the rate of return for beneficiaries.

    “We cannot allow activist investors to harm the investment and retirement portfolios of our constituents as collateral damage in their war against fossil fuels,” said Christian. “If ESG is not put in check, not only will future retirees face challenges in the years ahead, but we could see record bankruptcies and layoffs in the energy sector.” 

    Resolution 21.055 - Encouraging Carbon Capture and Technological Innovation : This resolution acknowledges the key role technological innovation, including carbon capture, has played in our nation’s environmental progress and encourages the federal government to act in a bipartisan manner to continue encouraging this progress.

    “A clean environment and oil and gas production are not mutually exclusive,” said Christian. “Because of technological innovation, over the last fifty years, our nation has decreased the six major pollutants by 77% while our energy consumption grew 48%, population grew 60%, and economy grew 285%. The key to environmental progress is innovation, not punitive regulations.”

    Christian currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) under Chairman Kevin Stitt (Governor, Oklahoma). Christian has held a number of leadership roles in the organization since he was first appointed to the IOGCC by Governor Greg Abbott in 2017. At this year’s meeting, Christian was the author of three out of the four resolutions that passed. 

    A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven Sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren. You can learn more about Commissioner Christian here: https://rrc.texas.gov/About-Us/Commissioners/Wayne-Christian/.

  • RRC Completes Four-Year Major Cleanup Effort at Waste Disposal Site in West Texas

    State Managed Cleanup Program on Track to Meet Legislative Target
    May 17, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission recently completed four years’ worth of hard work cleaning up the Wheeler Road Westex Notrees surface waste disposal facility near Odessa in West Texas.

    The $9 million remediation work began in 2017 at the site which operated as a surface waste disposal facility from the early 1990s to 2012 in Ector County. This site included several waste pits.

    The open pits were emptied and closed using state managed funds generated from industry fees. The final pit was closed in April. Overall, 204,000 cubic yards of oily waste were removed from the five pits. The major portion of the project has been completed; some minor work remains to be done, including the removal of scrap materials, such as wood, plastic piping, empty tanks, and drums.


    The photo on the left shows the Pit 14 at the abandoned former Westex Notrees surface waste disposal site before the Railroad Commission oversaw its cleanup. The photo on the right shows work nearing completion.

    “For state managed cleanup efforts, our objective is to remove all contamination and waste in order to protect public safety and the environment,” said Peter Pope, RRC Site Remediation Manager. “The closure of the abandoned pits near Odessa resolves complaints the agency received over the years. I am proud of the work that our staff and contractors put into achieving this positive result.”

    The project is one of 168 oil and gas sites that have been cleaned up by the RRC’s State Managed Cleanup Program this fiscal year, which ends in August. The agency remains on track to reach the legislative goal of 230 for the period.

    The State Managed Cleanup Program is funded through oil and gas industry revenue, including, but not limited to, regulatory fees, permit fees, and financial security.

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $290,000 in Penalties

    May 14, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $297,602 in fines involving 70 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on May 11. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Ten dockets involved $140,531 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $22,021 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $135,050 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Wright: Texas Industry will Prevail

    May 12, 2021

    By Commissioner Jim Wright

    As the newest statewide elected official in Austin, I expected there to be a learning curve, but 2021 has surprised even this old rodeo cowboy. My time in office started out with the impacts of COVID-19 and Winter Storm Uri, and now we are witnessing the impacts of cyberattacks on our pipelines.

    I came to Austin with a clear vision for what I wanted to accomplish at the Railroad Commission: to enact fair, consistent, and modernized standards that will allow compliant companies to continue operating and growing the economy while cracking down on those who skirt the law. While that is still the top goal for my six years in this office, the events of this year have encouraged me to expand that goal to include the mission at the heart of RRC: to minimize waste of our natural resources.

    Texas is blessed with abundant natural gas. In 2019, our state accounted for almost 24% of the nation’s natural gas production and has the second-largest proved reserves of natural gas. In addition to producing the most natural gas, we have made great strides in reducing our percentage of gas flared. In 2019, we flared just over 2% of total natural gas gross withdrawals, compared to 19% flared in North Dakota.

    I have long said the solution to our flaring problem is not at the wellhead, it is at the market. Historically we have had a limited market for natural gas and a limited ability to transport that gas. However, we have seen industry innovate to capture and market more of this commodity, from using it to power equipment on location to powering remote data centers for computing power all over the world. We have also seen how new gas pipeline infrastructure has allowed industry to transport that gas to the coast to sell. Each of these efforts contributed to the overall reduction in flaring.

    While this is a huge success for our industry in Texas, the impacts of Winter Storm Uri made it apparent that Texas needs more reliable energy sources, and it got me thinking about that 2% of natural gas flared. How could we better utilize that resource for the benefit of Texas?

    What if we could increase that market by partnering with Mexico to export LNG on their Pacific coast? With the halting of the Keystone XL Pipeline, we need access to heavy crude for our refineries. Could we work with Mexico on supplying that crude in exchange for access to their coast for export? What if we could dedicate would-be flared gas for electric generation? With additional pipeline infrastructure, could we have a dedicated, closed loop system for electric generation in some of our most populated areas? Wouldn’t the addition of reliable electric generation benefit our growing population, and the addition of pipelines reduce the overall impact of cyberattacks?

    I see how the news of the day or each new issue can monopolize time, but as an entrepreneur I do not like the word “can’t” and see each new issue as a potential opportunity for private sector solutions. I have been energized by the ingenuity and tenacity of the Texas oil and gas industry my entire life and in assuming this office, I have seen firsthand the opportunities that await us in the face of what started out as another trying year.

    Texas can and will overcome these issues, and the nation will be better for it. What the oil and natural gas industry needs now is the confidence of the state and federal government to engage in these solutions and provide a stable and reliable framework. We are surrounded by issues threatening our security and way of life and as for me and my role in government, I will do what I can to increase stability and make a path forward for our great state to prevail.

    Wright is a life-long south Texan, and a fifth-generation Texas rancher. As such, he understands the important relationship the energy industry has with the state and its ability to revitalize and rejuvenate the economy. He was elected to the Railroad Commission in November 2020. Read more about Commissioner Jim Wright here.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for April 2021

    May 06, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 732 original drilling permits in April 2021 compared to 456 in April 2020. The April 2021 total includes 629 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, five to re-enter plugged well bores, and 94 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in April 2021 is 205 oil, 63 gas, 434 oil or gas, 22 injection, and eight other permits.

    In April 2021, Commission staff processed 449 oil, 106 gas and 98 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 981 oil, 246 gas, and 249 injection completions in April 2020.

    Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 2,924 compared to 5,285 recorded during the same period in 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:

    https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

     

    TABLE 1 APRIL 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    52

    33

    6

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    57

    23

    7

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    14

    8

    1

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    7

    1

    0

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    0

    0

    1

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    32

    2

    33

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    22

    12

    3

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    51

    36

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    357

    254

    31

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    9

    15

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    21

    18

    2

    (10) PANHANDLE

    7

    1

    1

    TOTAL

    629

    403

    85

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

  • Texas Fights Back Against Woke Environmental Movement

    May 05, 2021

    AUSTIN – Yesterday, the Texas Legislature passed two critically important bills that allow Texas to fight national efforts to eliminate fossil fuels.

    House Bill 17 protects consumers by prohibiting political subdivisions from discriminating against specific fuel sources like natural gas and coal; this will ensure cities and counties cannot pass California-style ordinances that ban gas hook-ups in new buildings or homes.

    “Winter Storm Uri exposed the importance of allowing individuals to have access to natural gas in their homes,” said RRC Commission Wayne Christian. “99.5 percent of customers connected to natural gas maintained service for the duration of Winter Storm Uri, ensuring they had fuel to cook food and heat their homes.”

    Senate Bill 13 prevents our state from investing in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) financial products that boycott Texas energy companies.

    “Extremists are coming after your retirement account vis-à-vis ESG investing,” said Christian. “Studies clearly show this investment strategy leads to poorer outcomes for investors, and for the State of Texas, divesting from fossil fuels would have a dramatic impact on our state’s economy and budget. As proponents of SB 13 have said, this sends a strong message to big business, that if you boycott Texas energy, Texas will boycott you.” 

    “I would like to thank bill authors Senator Brian Birdwell (HB 17/SB 13), Representative Joe Deshotel (HB 17), and Representative Phil King (SB 13) for their leadership on these issues,” continued Christian. “While the federal government picks winners and losers by propping up unreliable forms of energy with massive subsidies, Texas has demonstrated it prioritizes consumer choice and reliability more than virtue signaling to a small and loud group of woke political activists.”

    A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven Sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren. You can learn more about Commissioner Christian here: https://rrc.texas.gov/About-Us/Commissioners/Wayne-Christian/.

April

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $460,000 in Penalties

    April 30, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $466,393 in fines involving 105 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on April 27. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Seven dockets involved $222,496 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $36,897 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $207,000 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for February 2021

    April 22, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for February 2021 came from 167,804 oil wells and 84,748 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from March 2020 to February 2021, total Texas reported production was 1.3 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.0 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas County by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

     

    TABLE 1 – February 2021: Statewide Production*

    PRODUCT

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    82,391,417 BBLS (barrels)

    2,942,551 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    594,736,674 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    21,240,596 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

     

    TABLE 2 – February 2020: Statewide Production

    PRODUCT

    UPDATED REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    UPDATED AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    PRELIMINARY AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    131,796,046 BBLS

    4,544,691 BBLS

    98,958,487 BBLS

    3,412,362 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    876,002,094 mcf

    30,206,969 mcf

    711,472,050 mcf

    24,533,519 mcf

     

    TABLE 3 February 2021: Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CRUDE OIL (BBLS)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    11,403,408

    2.

    MARTIN

    8,046,078

    3.

    HOWARD

    5,673,237

    4.

    REEVES

    5,212,108

    5.

    KARNES

    4,717,554

    6.

    UPTON

    4,127,591

    7.

    LOVING

    3,646,923

    8.

    LA SALLE

    2,876,499

    9.

    WARD

    2,749,922

    10.

    GLASSCOCK

    2,548,445

     

    TABLE 4 – February 2021: Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    TOTAL GAS (MCF)

    1.

    REEVES

    62,519,396

    2.

    WEBB

    42,634,684

    3.

    MIDLAND

    33,517,721

    4.

    PANOLA

    28,173,128

    5.

    CULBERSON

    24,342,009

    6.

    LOVING

    23,482,315

    7.

    TARRANT

    22,317,285

    8.

    LA SALLE

    18,676,220

    9.

    REAGAN

    17,733,378

    10.

    MARTIN

    16,845,973

     

    TABLE 5 – February 2021: Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CONDENSATE (BBLS)

    1.

    REEVES

    4,715,249

    2.

    LOVING

    2,461,465

    3.

    CULBERSON

    1,932,139

    4.

    DE WITT

    913,809

    5.

    DIMMIT

    722,606

    6.

    KARNES

    620,434

    7.

    WEBB

    551,826

    8.

    LIVE OAK

    251,468

    9.

    WARD

    216,855

    10.

    LA SALLE

    142,060

  • Railroad Commission Well Plugging Program on Path to Top Legislative Goal for Fifth Straight Year

    RRC Expertise Also Utilized to Assist National Parks Service
    April 21, 2021

    AUSTIN – The RRC’s strong track record continues for a major program in the agency’s critical mission to protect public safety and the environment across Texas.

    The State Managed Plugging Program addresses wells that are no longer productive and are considered orphaned in accordance with state laws and regulations. The Legislature set a target to plug 1,400 wells for the current fiscal year. The RRC is ahead of pace to reach that target: 1,083 wells have already been plugged with four months remaining in the fiscal year. 

    “We are on track to exceed our legislative goal for the fifth year in a row,” said RRC Director of Field Operations Clay Woodul. “We’ve picked up our pace plugging wells in recent months. During the last fiscal year, the pandemic posed special challenges to ensure the safety of contractors plugging wells and RRC field staff overseeing those operations, but we have clear protocols in place to ensure the work can proceed in a timely manner.”

    The RRC’s valuable experience in well plugging projects is a great resource for other agencies as well. The National Park Service recently collaborated with the RRC to help plug 11 wells at the Padre Island National Seashore near Corpus Christi. The work, which occurred from January to March of this year, helps preserve natural resources for generations of visitors to the park.

     

    “This is a win for our state and all Texans,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “These wells on federal land were not part of the state's well plugging program, but Padre Island National Seashore sought out the RRC because of our expertise in overseeing plugging projects. Our collaborative work with the park not only helps protect a natural treasure for future generations to enjoy, but it also helped provide jobs for some of our state’s oil and gas workers.” 

    Funding for the Padre Island National Seashore project came from the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council.

    The State Managed Plugging Program is funded through oil and gas industry revenue, including, but not limited to, well plugging reimbursements, fees and financial securities paid by the industry. No general taxpayer money is used.

  • RRC Gives Coal Mining Reclamation Award to Dos Republicas for Work at Eagle Pass Mine

    April 19, 2021

    AUSTIN – A coal mining operation near the Texas-Mexico border was commended for its environmental restoration after shutting down operations. RRC’s commissioners on Tuesday recognized Dos Republicas Resource Co. with the agency’s 2021 Texas Coal Mining Reclamation Award.

    Dos Republicas’ 6,348-acre Eagle Pass Mine, which has held a Railroad Commission permit since 2000, ceased mining operations last year and is now working toward full reclamation. The Eagle Pass Mine is about five miles northeast of Eagle Pass in Maverick County near the border with Mexico. Sub-bituminous coal from the Olmos Formation had been harvested from the surface mine, supplying 2-3 million metric tons of coal per year to a Mexican federal electricity commission power plant.

    RRC’s award recognizes Dos Republicas’ reclamation of the Dahlstrom pit, which was graded and merged with the surrounding area in 2018 and 2019. Layers of subsoil and topsoil were placed on top and planted with a mix of native grasses, which provide cover and forage for livestock and wildlife and will hold the newly placed topsoil in place while brush species take time to establish.

    “Dos Republicas’ efforts at the Dahlstrom pit exemplifies environmental stewardship,” said RRC Director of Surface Mining and Reclamation Division Brent Elliott, Ph.D. “It exceeds RRC standards, which are to return lands to a condition as good or better than before mining started.”

    The area has been mined for coal since around 1850 and once provided coal to power steamboats that moved up and down the Rio Grande and trains that helped to grow Texas and facilitate trade with Mexico.

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $660,000 in Penalties

    April 15, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $661,974 in fines involving 85 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on April 13. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Seven dockets involved $441,290 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $90,784 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $129,900 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for March 2021

    April 09, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 798 original drilling permits in March 2021 compared to 744 in March 2020. The March 2021 total includes 682 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, 13 to re-enter plugged well bores, and 99 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in March 2021 is 187 oil, 50 gas, 537 oil or gas, 13 injection, and 11 other permits.

    In March 2021, Commission staff processed 601 oil, 162 gas and 110 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 1,054 oil, 313 gas, and 240 injection completions in March 2020.

    Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 2,279 compared to 3,857 recorded during the same period in 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:

    https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

     

    TABLE 1 MARCH 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    40

    22

    42

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    71

    34

    10

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    17

    19

    2

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    4

    0

    4

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    1

    0

    2

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    23

    2

    9

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    25

    12

    0

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    80

    26

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    379

    428

    65

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    16

    3

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    22

    5

    0

    (10) PANHANDLE

    4

    1

    0

    TOTAL

    682

    552

    134

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

  • Texans Need to Call 811 Before Digging Projects

    April 08, 2021

    AUSTIN – As Texans take advantage of the spring weather and break ground on outdoor projects, they are reminded that they must call 811 before digging.

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently declared April as Safe Digging Month for the state to help bring awareness of the potential for injuries, property damage and outages if underground utilities are damaged.

    Homeowners, excavators and contractors must call 811 before digging any time of the year. An 811 call will prompt utility operators to come and mark where underground cables and utilities, such as pipelines, are located. This takes the guesswork out of digging and helps protect against bad accidents.   

    Texas has more miles of pipeline than any other state. In reports submitted to the RRC in 2020, 27 percent of pipeline damage was caused by people digging with hand tools, such as shovels.

    If a pipeline is damaged during excavation, state law requires the responsible party to call 811 to report the damage and 911 if there is a release of product.

    The call to 811 is free and must be made at least two business days before digging. Homeowners, excavators and contractors who call 811 are connected to the state One-Call Center, which then notifies underground facility operators, including pipelines. Locator personnel are dispatched to the digging site to mark the locations of underground pipelines and utilities with flags, spray paint or both.

    Location requests can also be filed online at the Texas 811 website at https://www.texas811.org/.

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for January 2021

    April 07, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for January 2021 came from 166,529 oil wells and 84,668 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from February 2020 to January 2021, total Texas reported production was 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.2 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas County by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 January 2021 Statewide Production*

    PRODUCT

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    113,528,902 BBLS (barrels)

    3,662,223 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    803,040,795 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    25,904,542 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

     

    TABLE 2 January 2020 Statewide Production

    PRODUCT

    UPDATED REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    UPDATED AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    PRELIMINARY AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    142,286,013 BBLS

    4,589,871 BBLS

    106,142,706 BBLS

    3,423,958 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    939,765,860 mcf

    30,315,028 mcf

    757,041,594 mcf

    24,420,697 mcf

     

    TABLE 3 January 2021: Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CRUDE OIL (BBLS)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    15,461,645

    2.

    MARTIN

    10,063,436

    3.

    HOWARD

    7,809,633

    4.

    REEVES

    6,957,861

    5.

    LOVING

    6,520,239

    6.

    KARNES

    6,448,840

    7.

    UPTON

    5,966,625

    8.

    WARD

    3,816,740

    9.

    LA SALLE

    3,810,015

    10.

    GLASSCOCK

    3,749,375

     


    TABLE 4 – January 2021: Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    TOTAL GAS (MCF)

    1.

    REEVES

    83,734,405

    2.

    WEBB

    49,622,230

    3.

    MIDLAND

    49,415,542

    4.

    PANOLA

    37,293,826

    5.

    LOVING

    36,278,917

    6.

    CULBERSON

    34,140,594

    7.

    TARRANT

    28,693,955

    8.

    REAGAN

    25,552,954

    9.

    LA SALLE

    24,216,756

    10.

    MARTIN

    23,519,791

     

    TABLE 5 – January 2021: Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CONDENSATE (BBLS)

    1.

    REEVES

    6,328,121

    2.

    LOVING

    3,624,117

    3.

    CULBERSON

    2,788,254

    4.

    DE WITT

    1,178,831

    5.

    DIMMIT

    1,007,554

    6.

    WEBB

    842,706

    7.

    KARNES

    831,209

    8.

    WARD

    322,801

    9.

    LIVE OAK

    255,455

    10.

    LA SALLE

    229,184

  • 130 Years Young, RRC Looks to the Future

    April 06, 2021

    AUSTIN – It’s easy to not fully grasp just how much the world has changed since a 19th-century Legislature created the Railroad Commission of Texas to provide order and predictability to a rapidly expanding railroad industry that controlled the flow of goods.

    When the RRC opened its doors on April 3, 1891, the common modes of personal transportation were foot and horse. Ford’s Model T was not available for mass consumption until 1908.

    The coming of the railroad would be followed by a great rush for oil. In 1901, there was the famous discovery of oil at Spindletop near Beaumont. The well was so productive that it produced more than the world’s entire demand in 1902.

    Spindletop oil field (courtesy Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum – Lamar University)

         

    The well and those that followed it gradually brought into focus the need for responsible stewardship of this valuable resource. The rapid development of oil rigs would also bring to the forefront the need for protection of public safety and the environment.

    In 1917, the RRC’s duties were expanded with the Texas Legislature’s Pipeline Petroleum Law, giving it oversight of pipelines. That was followed with the Oil and Gas Conservation Law in 1919.

    RRC’s first oil and gas rule in 1919 concerned the establishment of minimum distances between wells to protect field pressure and correlative rights.

    As the RRC celebrates its 130th anniversary, it is forging ahead in the 21st century by embracing the latest technologies to better serve the public and improve its oversight of the oil and gas industry, the safety of pipelines, natural gas utilities, liquified petroleum gas (LP-gas), and coal and uranium surface mining operations. The last of RRC’s rail functions transferred away in 2005.

    The need for RRC’s regulation of the state’s energy resources has been evident with recent periods of massive growth and contraction because of market volatility. Over the last decade, the state experienced a boom in horizontal drilling; discoveries of huge untapped resources, including the 2018 announcement by the U.S. Geological Survey that the Delaware Basin portion of the greater Permian Basin contains an estimated 46.3 billion barrels of oil and 281 trillion cubic feet of natural gas; and market down turns in 2015 and 2020. RRC’s three commissioners and 840-strong staff are dedicated to supporting Texas’ economic vitality as the nation’s leader in oil and gas while protecting the state’s natural resources, environment, and public safety.

    In recent years, the RRC has leveraged technology to increase efficiency for operators and staff, and expanded transparency by providing the public even more access to agency information. Examples of recent technology enhancements to RRC operations include:

    • RRC Online Inspection Lookup (RRC OIL), an award-winning, first-in-the-nation web application which is updated nightly and allows anybody to view inspection and violation data 24/7.
    • RRC CASES, an online portal that allows operators to file Hearings case files electronically and makes them available for public view. Operators can also pay fines online through the system.
    • RRC Drone Program, which helps inspectors quickly respond and inspect sites that are unsafe or inaccessible during emergencies.

    “Over the past 130 years, the Railroad Commission of Texas has set itself apart as a global leader in regulatory excellence,” said Chairman Christi Craddick. “The oil and gas industry is a critical component of our states’ overall success and requires regulatory certainty and adaptation to keep up with an ever-evolving, technologically advanced private sector. I look forward to continuing to prioritize health, safety, and innovation alongside my fellow Commissioners and agency staff as we maintain our status as the best agency in Texas.”

    “It has been an honor of a lifetime to serve the people of Texas at the Railroad Commission,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “I wake up everyday excited to make the Commission better and hopefully lay a foundation to make the next 130 years as great as the last 130.”

    “While Texas has changed quite a bit since the creation of the commission,” said Commissioner Jim Wright, “our agency’s mission to ensure the production of our state’s natural resources is done safely and efficiently is more important than ever. I am honored to serve as a Commissioner and look forward to advancing the legacy of the Railroad Commission of Texas.”

    When the 87th Session of the Texas Legislature began in January 2021, RRC’s primary focus was on the continuation of budget priorities to modernize the agency’s information technology infrastructure and maintain oversight of Texas’ energy industry. In February, the RRC exhibited consistent leadership during Winter Storm Uri for Texas’ energy sector through the prioritization of gas deliveries to human needs customers and assisting with emergency response to help ensure the flow of prioritized natural gas deliveries.   

    Drawing from this experience during the storm, RRC has worked with state leaders on legislation to improve Texas’ energy infrastructure for extreme weather events. Key agency priorities for the 87th Session include formalizing the Texas Energy Reliability Council to ensure robust communication between industry sectors and prioritizing natural gas infrastructure for power deliver during widespread outages.

    RRC continues in its role as the global leader in energy regulation. As the top producer of oil and natural gas in the United States, Texas’ resources are vital to ensure energy independence and security for our nation.

    As the agency moves forward, more major technology upgrades are also in the works that will improve the agency’s operations, the experience of operators who interact with the agency, and online transparency.

    A video showing the array of agency functions is posted on our website at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUfBep2VSBo.

March

  • RRC Continues Work to Assist Legislature with Winter Storm Response

    March 18, 2021

    AUSTIN – In the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri, the Railroad Commission has worked diligently with the Texas Legislature, other state agencies, and industry stakeholders to provide meaningful solutions to the challenges that our state faced during the storm.

    In response to the recent hearings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, Chairman Christi Craddick offered several tangible and responsible recommendations to legislators. Understanding that electricity is the best winterization tool, the proposals discussed include:

    • Formalize the Texas Energy Reliability Council (TERC) – TERC is comprised of members from the RRC, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the Public Utility Commission, and members of the natural gas industry. Strengthening this group through statute would allow these key stakeholders to improve communication and ensure emergency preparedness.
    • Convene an RRC administrative hearing to consider and update curtailment priorities – The RRC took proactive actions and issued an energy order to elevate human needs customers to a high priority prior to Winter Storm Uri. The current curtailment priorities for natural gas transport and sale were established in 1972, and an updated order is timely.
    • Ensure that critical oil and gas infrastructure is appropriately registered with ERCOT and electric utilities – Ensuring that electricity providers grant these critical energy producing facilities priority status is crucial to preventing power outages in the future.
    • Require natural gas-fired electric generators to secure firm gas transportation capacity and adequate natural gas supply – Thorough examination of these contracting procedures is key to understanding the limitations experienced by these power plants. The state should explore all additional storage options and contracting methods for these facilities.

    “This agency is uniquely positioned to leverage the best practices utilized by both the industries we regulate and the regulatory strategies we employ to be part of the solution in the wake of Winter Storm Uri,” said Chairman Craddick. “I am committed to working with my colleagues here at the Commission and at the Capitol to develop meaningful solutions that protect all Texans moving forward.”

    “Texas cannot afford to come within minutes of total electric grid system failure ever again,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “It is important for state agencies and the industries we regulate to be proactive in our communication and coordination with one another to ensure our constituents have access to reliable energy when they need it most.”

    “Identifying and monitoring critical infrastructure prior to extreme weather events is a crucial part of our path forward,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “This along with increased communication through TERC will ensure we are able to plan and prepare for weather events much better in the future. I look forward to working with my colleagues and staff at the Commission to implement these and other measures as we learn and move froward from winter storm Uri.”

  • RRC Commissioners Assess Nearly $175,000 in Penalties

    March 12, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $174,675 in fines involving 76 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on March 9. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $7,750 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $166,925 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for February 2021

    March 10, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 606 original drilling permits in February 2021 compared to 874 in February 2020. The February 2021 total includes 516 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, five to re-enter plugged well bores, and 78 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in February 2021 is 152 oil, 49 gas, 386 oil or gas, 10 injection, and nine other permits.

    In February 2021, Commission staff processed 482 oil, 107 gas and 89 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 732 oil, 169 gas, and 89 injection completions in February 2020.

    Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 1,523 compared to 2,286 recorded during the same period in 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:

    https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

     

    TABLE 1 FEBRUARY 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS New DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    29

    19

    12

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    32

    23

    5

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    8

    6

    0

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    5

    2

    2

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    0

    0

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    23

    1

    18

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    14

    7

    1

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    41

    39

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    324

    317

    54

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    10

    5

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    19

    8

    1

    (10) PANHANDLE

    1

    0

    1

    TOTAL

    516

    427

    94

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

  • Texas Oil & Gas Production Statistics for December 2020

    March 04, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for December 2020 came from 168,775 oil wells and 86,267 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from January 2020 to December 2020, total Texas reported production was 1.461 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.197 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 December 2020 Statewide Production*

    PRODUCT

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    109,004,525 BBLS (barrels)

    3,516,275 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    725,311,065 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    23,397,131 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.

     

    TABLE 2 December 2019 Statewide Production

    PRODUCT

    UPDATED REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    UPDATED AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    PRELIMINARY AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    142,153,369 BBLS

    4,585,593 BBLS

    102,260,868 BBLS

    3,298,738 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    935,313,958 mcf

    30,171,418 mcf

    707,644,526 mcf

    22,827,243 mcf

     

    TABLE 3 December 2020: Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CRUDE OIL (BBLS)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    15,481,418

    2.

    MARTIN

    10,265,372

    3.

    HOWARD

    6,978,021

    4.

    KARNES

    6,598,087

    5.

    REEVES

    6,312,374

    6.

    UPTON

    6,061,095

    7.

    LOVING

    4,807,186

    8.

    LA SALLE

    4,103,124

    9.

    GLASSCOCK

    3,796,826

    10.

    WARD

    3,675,984

     


    TABLE 4 – December 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    TOTAL GAS (MCF)

    1.

    REEVES

    78,821,949

    2.

    MIDLAND

    50,002,902

    3.

    PANOLA

    35,277,564

    4.

    CULBERSON

    34,665,233

    5.

    WEBB

    34,000,367

    6.

    LOVING

    30,601,049

    7.

    TARRANT

    26,505,282

    8.

    MARTIN

    24,128,858

    9.

    UPTON

    23,643,968

    10.

    REAGAN

    22,908,066

     

    TABLE 5 – December 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CONDENSATE (BBLS)

    1.

    REEVES

    5,672,473

    2.

    LOVING

    3,203,184

    3.

    CULBERSON

    2,833,092

    4.

    DE WITT

    1,149,639

    5.

    KARNES

    677,430

    6.

    WEBB

    614,858

    7.

    DIMMIT

    264,046

    8.

    LIVE OAK

    227,162

    9.

    MCMULLEN

    168,914

    10.

    LA SALLE

    160,051

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $700,000 in Penalties

    March 03, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $718,896 in fines involving 200 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Feb. 23. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Four dockets involved $121,908 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $135,888 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $461,100 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

    About the Railroad Commission

    Our mission is to serve Texas by our stewardship of natural resources and the environment, our concern for personal and community safety, and our support of enhanced development and economic vitality for the benefit of Texans. The Commission has a long and proud history of service to both Texas and to the nation, including almost 100 years regulating the oil and gas industry. The Commission also has jurisdiction over alternative fuels safety, natural gas utilities, surface mining and intrastate pipelines. Established in 1891, the Railroad Commission of Texas is the oldest regulatory agency in the state. To learn more, please visit http://www.rrc.texas.gov.

February

  • Railroad Commission Keeping Tabs on the Potential for Hikes in Gas Bills

    February 19, 2021

    AUSTIN – As the state recovers from the severe winter storm the RRC is continuing its daily contact with energy producers, pipeline operators, and electric regulators to provide the support they need for natural gas deliveries to help Texans.

    Utilities have been purchasing gas to deliver to customers in a commodities market in which prices dramatically increased due to the extremely high demand brought on by the prolonged storm.

    The Commission is working with utilities, consumer groups and others to avoid situations where customers may get unusually high bills in the coming weeks.

    “As Texans recover from the devastating effects of Winter Storm Uri, I am committed to utilizing all of the tools available to this agency to assist in the coming weeks,” said RRC Chairman Christi Craddick. “The Railroad Commission will be exploring all options in order to reduce the financial burden on Texans as we tackle the challenges that lie ahead together.”

    “Texans have gone through enough hardship during this winter storm without having to worry about unexpected additional energy costs,” said Commissioner Wayne Christian. “Our agency will do everything in our power to ensure utilities have plenty of time to get caught up on these unexpected expenses, so consumers are not unduly burdened.”

    “We understand that there are multiple issues impacting Texans as we begin to move out of this extreme winter weather,” said Commissioner Jim Wright. “I am committed to working with my colleagues and the commission staff to do everything in our power to ease these burdens on all Texans and work with other state and local entities to ensure we learn from this week’s events.“

    Last weekend the RRC also sent a notice to natural gas utilities under Commission’s jurisdiction authorizing them to set up regulatory accounts that could be used in rate proceedings which will be reviewed by the Commission as appropriate.

  • Spending Should Have Prioritized Reliability

    By Commissioner Wayne Christian
    February 19, 2021

    Everything is so politicized these days that it is tough to decipher facts from opinions about what happened this week with the winter storm. 

    It’s easy to blame ERCOT — and yes, their actions led to the blackouts in part — but the full story is much more complex. One night of bad decisions would not have had such devastating consequences had it not been for decades of poor policy decisions prioritizing unreliable renewable energy sources at the expense of reliable electricity — something Texans now know is essential to our everyday lives.

    I have seen a lot of media reports claiming the issue was a decrease in power generated from natural gas, but when you look at the numbers that is just not true.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the hourly average of net power generation from gas went from 17,602 mw before the storm (2/1-2/12) to 33,310 during the storm (2/12-2/17), meaning generation from natural gas basically doubled as demand increased. (1)

    Many are blaming fossil fuels because "wind power was expected to make up only a fraction of what the state had planned for during the winter."(2) This is the problem. Investments in infrastructure are paid for by electricity customers and taxpayers, and our state spent more than $7 billion to build out the CREZ Transmission Lines for wind and solar generation.

    This means resources that could have otherwise been spent making our grid more resilient to weather — or adding reliable generation from natural gas, nuclear, or clean coal to keep up with increasing demand for electricity — were instead spent on building out transmission lines for intermittent forms of energy that were "never expected" to perform during times like these. 

    The issue isn't the existence of renewable energy, but that it has displaced reliable generation that makes up our "base load," not through natural market forces but through massive subsidies and punitive regulatory policies from progressives in Washington, D.C. In 2009, “coal-fired plants generated nearly 37 percent of the state’s electricity while wind provided about 6 percent. Since then, three Texas coal-fired plants have closed… In the same period, our energy consumption rose by 20 percent.”(3)

    Everyone loves to tout the phrase “all the above” — until it includes energy sources perceived as “dirty,” like coal, or "scary," like nuclear. However, these energy sources are both extraordinarily safe and dependable in adverse weather conditions like Texas is facing now because one of their key features is on-site storage. If the "all the above" wind and solar advocates are serious about anything more than receiving subsidies, why are they opposed to nuclear, which can produce massive amounts of energy with a ZERO carbon footprint?

    There is no single reason we are in the mess we are in now; it is a multifaceted perfect storm. However, every time the government picks winners and losers in business and innovation, it is the average citizens that lose. This week was a wakeup call that there is more to energy policy than the politics of climate change. 

    1) https://mcusercontent.com/ec5dd75d998816c4f8464c9a5/files/8f37e5af-7b57-45ad-9dbb-4c7f7d0eb850/EIA_Data.xlsx
    2) https://www.texastribune.org/2021/02/16/texas-wind-turbines-frozen/
    3) https://comptroller.texas.gov/economy/fiscal-notes/2020/august/ercot.php

  • Statement on RRC Commissioners’ Extension of Emergency Order to Assist Texans During Winter Storm

    February 17, 2021

    AUSTIN – Statement on action by RRC commissioners extending assistance to Texans during the winter storm:

    The safety and protection of Texas residents is of utmost importance to the RRC. During this severe winter storm, the RRC has been in constant contact daily with energy producers, energy utility companies, pipeline operators, Public Utility Commission of Texas and other state agencies to provide the support they need for natural gas deliveries to help Texans. Commissioners took a proactive step to prioritize natural gas deliveries for human needs with an emergency order last Friday, Feb. 12. This evening, in an open meeting, commissioners extended the emergency order until Tuesday, Feb. 23.

    The emergency order passed last Friday and extended today continues to elevate natural gas deliveries to electric generation facilities serving human needs customers to a higher priority. This action helps ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period. The Commission took this action to help protect public health and safety during this extreme weather event.

    The emergency order can be found at this link: https://rrc.texas.gov/media/lkwfnpqw/emergency-order-021721-final-signed.pdf.

  • Railroad Commission Working to Help Energy Production, Supply During Winter Storm

    February 15, 2021

    AUSTIN – As Texas endures a harsh winter storm, the RRC is actively engaged in daily calls with other state agencies, oil and gas producers, pipeline systems, and utilities throughout the state’s energy and electricity supply chain. Some producers, especially in the Permian Basin and Panhandle, are reportedly experiencing unprecedented freezing conditions and intermittent power loss which caused concerns for employee safety and affected production. 

    The RRC, industry, and other state and local entities are working together to keep tabs on supply and demand and make necessary adjustments to ensure Texans are safe and warm. As part of the statewide response, RRC commissioners issued an emergency order on Friday evening to prioritize gas supplies to facilities serving human needs. RRC also issued a notice asking oil and gas operators to monitor and maintain operations as safety permits.

    Residents and businesses can also take some important steps to reduce power demand and help the current situation. Read more about conservation recommendations on our website.

  • Statement on Action by RRC Commissioners to Assist Texans During Winter Storm

    February 12, 2021

    AUSTIN – Statement on action by RRC commissioners to assist Texans during the winter storm:

    The safety and protection of Texas residents is of utmost importance to the RRC. As an exceptional winter weather system sweeps across Texas, the Commission took action to ensure that Texas families and businesses can stay warm. RRC commissioners during an emergency meeting Friday night temporarily amended Rule 2 of Order 489 to elevate electric generation facilities serving human needs customers to a higher priority. This action was taken to ensure the availability of gas supplies to gas-fired generation facilities in Texas during this critical period.  The Commission took this action to prioritize the protection of public health and safety during this extreme weather event.

    The signed order can be found at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/cw3ewubr/emergency-order-021221-final-signed.pdf

  • RRC Commissioners Assess Nearly $500,000 in Penalties

    February 11, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $499,155 in fines involving 118 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Feb. 9. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Seven dockets involved $197,955 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $35,300 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $265,900 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • RRC, TCEQ Team Up to Streamline Permitting Process

    Agencies’ Collaboration Nets State Full Authority for Discharge Permits
    February 10, 2021

    AUSTIN – In the years since unconventional drilling became more common, oil, gas, and pipeline operators have had an increased need to discharge produced or other sources of waste water.

    In order to obtain a permit for surface water discharges, operators may have needed to apply to both the Railroad Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency. For related environmental activities, such as surface water rights, they might need to contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Potentially dealing with three agencies may have been time-consuming and detracting from core business activities.

    But at the direction of the 86th Texas Legislature via House Bill 2771, the RRC began working with the TCEQ in 2019 to help that agency gain primacy from the EPA for all surface water discharge issues in the state.

    On Jan. 15, that work culminated in RRC transferring certain discharge permitting to surface waters of the state for produced water, hydrostatic testing, and gas plant effluent to the TCEQ and EPA granting TCEQ authority to administer the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program in Texas. Operators should now submit applications for these permits to TCEQ.

    “This greatly benefits the energy industry in our state by making the regulation easier to understand for our operators,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “Through our planning with the TCEQ, we were successful in that EPA agreed to delegate this NPDES program and transfer its authority to Texas.”

    Obtaining a permit for certain discharges to surface water has become much simpler for the oil and gas industry. For instance, before the current permitting process took effect, to conduct hydrostatic testing on a pipeline to ensure its integrity, an operator needed to get a permit from RRC and EPA to release any discharge to a surface water body and call a TCEQ regional office to obtain permission to use surface water for the testing. Now, operators will only need to contact TCEQ.

    RRC does retain certain regulatory authority in water discharge, such as surface application of wastewater that does not impact the waters of the state and the recycling of domestic wastewater. More information can be found on RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/applications-and-permits/environmental-permit-types/minor-permits-hydrostatic-test-discharges-domestic-wastewater-and-other-permits/.

    For information about surface water discharge for the oil and gas industry, visit the TCEQ’s webpage at https://www.tceq.texas.gov/permitting/wastewater/oilandgas.

  • Commissioner Wright Statement from February 9th Open Meeting

    February 09, 2021

    AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright released the following statement after today’s Open Meeting:

    “I know as a Commissioner it is my duty to ensure we are doing everything possible to utilize our natural gas as a reliable energy source. I also know flaring exception requests have been allowed for a host of reasons, including system failures, emergencies, and pipeline issues when equated to its economic viability. I realize the practice of obtaining two-year flaring exceptions have become expected for those reasons and that decisions by our Producers have been based on the ability to obtain these lengthy exceptions.

    “It is certainly not my intent to penalize our industry that drives most of our economy here in Texas and I will always make decisions based on what is best for Texas.

    “In this regard, I want to ensure I have the ability to understand each applicant’s issues and thus ensure these applicants continue to do their utmost best to utilize our produced gas as energy.

    “It is again not my intent to change the process midway through when investments made have been made based on our historical actions. I do however want to let staff and the industry know that I intend to continue to explore how we can allow for flaring exceptions due to unforeseen issues while limiting or eliminating the requests for routine flaring. 

    “I stand committed to work alongside the industry and our staff experts to reach this goal and will strive to encourage this henceforth.

    “As you may recall I elected to pass on some of the Statewide Rule 32 exception requests at our last open meeting. I did so in order to familiarize myself with the information we require from applicants when considering their request. As I stated in January, when someone requests an exception to Statewide Rule 32, I want to know if and how they are working to reduce flaring, or what I see as wasting our state’s natural resource.

    “I applaud the staff’s efforts to continue to push for greater transparency on the need to flare and provide that information to us as we continue to work to identify ways, alongside industry, to reduce flaring.

    “Flaring is a necessary last resort during an upset, and we have work to do internally at the commission to ensure that we are not approving requests that go beyond that.

    “To that end, I moved to remand several items for the following reasons:

    “I moved to remand some items to the Hearings Division for the express and limited purpose of reviewing the information in the record to determine the possibility of getting the gas to market and/or if calculations were made to determine if a pipeline could be constructed for less than the amounts asserted by the operator. The proposed Final Orders for these two items collectively state that the operator proposes to flare over $1 million dollars in natural gas because it will be too expensive to build a pipeline; that seems worthy of further investigation.

    “Further, I moved to remand some items to the Hearings Division to investigate why these flaring exceptions over the last four years have increased, some of them dramatically, rather than decreased.

    “Finally, I moved to remand some items to the Hearings Division to further investigate the possibility of either treating the CO2-rich gas and getting it to market, or the safety of attempting to flare the CO2-rich gas if it turns out it cannot be efficiently treated. Since CO2 injection programs are becoming more popular, I personally don’t want this sort of flaring exception authority to become routine.”

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics for January 2021

    February 05, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 512 original drilling permits in January 2021 compared to 1,156 in January 2020. The January 2021 total includes 446 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, two to re-enter plugged well bores, and six for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in January 2021 is 101 oil, 39 gas, 353 oil or gas, 13 injection, and six other permits.

    In January 2021, Commission staff processed 583 oil, 104 gas and 66 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 927 oil, 222 gas, and 157 injection completions in January 2020.

    Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link: https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/drilling-information/monthly-drilling-completion-and-plugging-summaries/

    TABLE 1 JANUARY 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES NEW OIL COMPLETIONS NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    46

    48

    2

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    49

    48

    20

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    8

    19

    4

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    1

    2

    4

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    0

    1

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    14

    1

    10

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    14

    3

    2

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    29

    72

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    263

    313

    48

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    7

    0

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    6

    13

    1

    (10) PANHANDLE

    9

    2

    0

    TOTAL

    446

    522

    91

    *A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.

  • Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for November 2020

    February 03, 2021

    AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for November 2020 came from 168,923 oil wells and 85,126 gas wells.

    The RRC reports that from December 2019 to November 2020, total Texas reported production was 1.5 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.3 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.

    For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas county by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.

    TABLE 1 – November 2020: Statewide Production*

    PRODUCT

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    104,462,869 BBLS (barrels)

    3,482,096 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    720,868,629 mcf (thousand cubic feet)

    24,028,954 mcf

    * These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.


    TABLE 2 – November 2019: Statewide Production

    PRODUCT

    UPDATED REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    UPDATED AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    PRELIMINARY REPORTED TOTAL VOLUME

    PRELIMINARY AVERAGE DAILY PRODUCTION

    Crude Oil

    137,025,551 BBLS

    4,567,518 BBLS

    100,561,670 BBLS

    3,352,056 BBLS

    Natural Gas

    905,697,403 mcf

    30,189,913 mcf

    698,644,822 mcf

    23,288,161 mcf


    TABLE 3
    November 2020: Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CRUDE OIL (BBLS)

    1.

    MIDLAND

    14,483,047

    2.

    MARTIN

    10,229,205

    3.

    KARNES

    6,888,823

    4.

    HOWARD

    6,333,219

    5.

    REEVES

    6,079,981

    6.

    UPTON

    5,914,882

    7.

    LOVING

    4,682,272

    8.

    LA SALLE

    3,646,795

    9.

    WARD

    3,502,104

    10.

    GONZALES

    3,268,223


    TABLE 4 – November 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    TOTAL GAS (MCF)

    1.

    REEVES

    81,856,058

    2.

    MIDLAND

    44,557,201

    3.

    WEBB

    44,333,599

    4.

    PANOLA

    37,342,634

    5.

    CULBERSON

    32,600,317

    6.

    LOVING

    29,462,759

    7.

    TARRANT

    25,482,735

    8.

    KARNES

    23,081,094

    9.

    MARTIN

    23,062,207

    10.

    UPTON

    22,125,734


    TABLE 5 – November 2020: Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production

    RANK

    COUNTY

    CONDENSATE (BBLS)

    1.

    REEVES

    5,877,920

    2.

    LOVING

    2,873,719

    3.

    CULBERSON

    2,702,456

    4.

    DE WITT

    1,331,828

    5.

    KARNES

    845,881

    6.

    WEBB

    648,767

    7.

    DIMMIT

    281,048

    8.

    LIVE OAK

    273,335

    9.

    WARD

    268,756

    10.

    MCMULLEN

    258,159



January

  • RRC Launches New Website with User-Friendly Enhancements

    January 28, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas unveiled a new website today with a new layout that is easy to navigate and is more task oriented than the previous version.

    The new site is another of the agency’s initiatives to help operators efficiently get what they need and to also help the public easily access the RRC’s trove of information.

    A key change on the new website are menu options at the top of the site that provide a one-stop shop for operators and the public. Examples include:

    • The Resources page (left screenshot below) that includes popular links for research queries, the GIS Viewer, statistics and more; and
    • The Forms page (right screenshot) where operators can access every RRC division and department’s forms for permits or other required filing without having to go to a particular division’s page.
    • The red RRC Applications button at the top right of the website houses applications such as CASES and RRC OIL (for inspection lookups). More innovative applications will be added there as they are released.

    forms page

    “We patiently built the new website to optimize the user experience for operators and the public,” said Wei Wang, the RRC’s Executive Director. “Analytics helped us see the most visited pages and we organized that information in the top menu and on the landing pages of our divisions and departments. All the information that was on our old website is on the enhanced site but presented in a more professional and navigable layout.”

    The landing pages for RRC divisions and departments are marked by icons on the home page (as shown below), and those icons also appear on the left of the screen as you visit different pages.

    A new Events panel on the homepage provides an across-the-board list of events at the agency including trainings, exams, and open meetings. Events and Announcements for a particular division can also be found on each division’s landing page.

    Mobile device users will notice another major benefit of the new website, as tables and associated links fit within mobile screens.

    The RRC will continue to fine-tune the new website based on input. If you use the site often, please familiarize yourself with the new layout at www.rrc.texas.gov.  There is a contact form in the Contact Us menu for users to leave comments or input about the new website.

    Make sure to also check your bookmarks because URLs to some pages have changed on the new website.

    We have also created a helpful video highlighting the enhancements to the website. You can view that video on the RRC’s YouTube Channel at https://youtu.be/dDocusqGT08.

     

  • RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $1.2 million in Penalties

    January 27, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $1,202,243 in fines involving 234 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Jan. 26. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.

    Twenty-eight dockets involved $616,894 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Details on these Master Default Orders can be found here on the RRC website.

    Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $128,499 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $456,850 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Details on all these Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC website here.

    In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.

  • Commissioner Wright Statement on Flaring Exceptions

    January 26, 2021

    AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright released the following statement after today’s Open Meeting:

    “During today’s RRC Commissioners’ Conference, I elected to pass on most of the requests for exceptions to Statewide Rule 32 governing flaring permits. Most items that dealt with flaring did not appear to have a clear and concise plan on natural gas utilization, and I wanted more time to review these requests and discuss them with Commission staff. I want to be clear that I do not take these requests lightly as flaring natural gas is a waste of our precious resources.

    “My suggestion to staff going forward, in addition to the requirements for flaring permits, will be to ask two additional questions: The first question will be to require greater detail on the need to flare, and the second will be to inquire about the timeline for sufficient infrastructure to take away gas for market. These questions will help me ensure we are doing our best both economically and environmentally to utilize this resource and for the Commission to better understand production and processing hurdles.

    “There were, however, a few flaring permit requests that I voted to approve. For example, those who have H2S issues or those who have concrete timelines to tie into a gathering system. It is my fear that until we have adjusted Commission rules for instances, such as H2S, excessive amounts of gas will be flared or might otherwise lead to harming human health. You can bet that this is something I will work to address immediately with our staff.

    “Most do not realize the preparations for these permits by both the producers and the staff here at the Commission. My goal is not to burden the process further or apply the rule unevenly; however, we must as the regulating agency and as the industry do our utmost best to utilize our natural resources for energy production, especially in the wake of all the issues we saw in 2020.

    “I know the importance of crude oil production for our dependency and economy, and my fellow commissioners understand this importance as well. Flaring must be allowed until we start to require proper connections before production. To that end, we must make it economically viable to do so by identifying and encouraging new markets for our clean burning natural gas. If not, our crude production will suffer, and we will become more and more dependent on foreign oil.

    “My aim is to require any applicant who applies for authority to flare during my term, to show how and when their production of natural gas will be transported correctly for marketing. I am amenable to allowing fair time for flaring to occur in certain circumstances, but limits must be set.” 

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.

  • Federal Change Will Allow Texas to Lead on Water

    By Commissioner Wayne Christian
    January 21, 2021

    As Texas’ official representative to the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), I passed a resolution in May 2018 asking the federal government to identify regulations that should be delegated to the states. In response, I received the suggestion that Texas should request delegation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program for oil and gas wastewater from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It quickly became apparent that the best way to obtain this delegation would be to pursue it through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), rather than through my agency, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).

    Instead of playing protectionism over the duties delegated to our agency, my fellow commissioners and I put Texas first and supported legislation at the Legislature that would enable TCEQ to request this authority after our agencies finalized a MOU. 

    There are many political issues facing the oil and gas industry, but perhaps the most significant technical issue is the dilemma on what to do with oil and gas wastewater. Although the Texas oil and gas industry does not use high volumes of water as compared to other key industries on a statewide basis, it is important to further increase our efforts to use water in a sustainable manner.

    With the upcoming change in the White House, many had lost faith that Texas would be able to obtain the NPDES delegation before inauguration. Fortunately, last Friday, the EPA approved Texas’ request to administer this critical program. 

    Although the EPA doesn’t currently allow the discharge of treated produced water into the Waters of the United States, such as rivers and lakes, it is my hope that this change is a big first step towards a future where our state has the legal authority to permit alternatives to the underground injection of wastewater. Creating a regulatory framework that incentivizes the reuse and reintroduction of produced water cleaned to the health and safety standards of the Clean Water Act should be prioritized. 

    It is important for the public to know that just because Texas has this authority doesn’t mean energy producers will be able to just discharge produced water however they see fit. Permittees will have to apply for a permit with the TCEQ and will be subject to very specific requirements and monitoring, using the same standards that EPA uses today.  

    Texas has a great track record with protecting the drinking water Texans rely on. Shortly after I joined the agency, the Railroad Commission conducted an exhaustive review of nearly 63,000 injection-well applications since 1982. The findings of the review confirmed permitted injection wells are not polluting sources of underground drinking water or potential sources of underground drinking water. The study was commended by the EPA.

    This latest delegation from the federal government allows state regulators to do what they do best, continue to protect their constituents while ensuring innovation is not stifled by unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. 

    If we allow municipalities to clean and reuse sewage water, it only makes sense to explore using properly treated water from the oil patch to water cotton in West Texas and potentially even broader uses down the road. As treatment costs decrease and freshwater prices continue to increase, Texas will be thankful it has the flexibility afforded to it by this delegation of authority from the federal government. 


    A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. In June 2019, Christian was elected by his fellow commissioners to lead the agency as Chairman, a position he held until September 2020. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven Sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. In addition to his duties as Commissioner, Christian was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve as the Official Representative of Texas on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren

  • Texas Drilling Permits and Completions Statistics

    For December 2020
    January 08, 2021

    AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 486 original drilling permits in December 2020 compared to 803 in December 2019. The December 2020 total includes 424 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, four to re-enter plugged well bores, and 48 for re-completions of existing well bores.

    The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in December 2020 is 118 oil, 43 gas, 296 oil or gas, 12 injection, and 17 other permits.

    In December 2020, Commission staff processed 493 oil, 77 gas and 116 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 491 oil, 98 gas, and 20 injection completions in December 2019.

    Total well completions processed for 2020 year to date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 14,140 compared to 9,238 recorded during the same period in 2019.

    Recent Information Technology changes are allowing the Commission to report more detailed data on drilling permits and well completions each month. The information in prior year reports may not correlate exactly to the same results on the new report. These technological improvements provide more statistics and transparency, and the new report is available on  the Commission’s monthly drilling completion summaries web page

     

    TABLE 1 DECEMBER 2020 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*

    DISTRICT

    PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES

    NEW OIL COMPLETIONS

    NEW GAS COMPLETIONS

    (1) SAN ANTONIO AREA

    40

    45

    6

    (2) REFUGIO AREA

    61

    30

    0

    (3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS

    11

    11

    4

    (4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS

    9

    0

    1

    (5) EAST CENTRAL TX

    2

    0

    0

    (6) EAST TEXAS

    5

    0

    14

    (7B) WEST CENTRAL TX

    16

    3

    1

    (7C) SAN ANGELO AREA

    31

    49

    0

    (8) MIDLAND

    221

    290

    42

    (8A) LUBBOCK AREA

    8

    3

    0

    (9) NORTH TEXAS

    17

    10

    0

    (10) PANHANDLE

    3

    3

    0

    TOTAL

    424

    444

    68

    * A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas here.

  • Railroad Commission Exceeding Goals for Oil and Gas Well Inspections

    January 07, 2021

    AUSTIN – In 2018, the Railroad Commission began work toward the ambitious goal of inspecting every one of the nearly 440,000 oil and gas wells in the state at least once every five years. The agency is well on its way to exceeding its goal again this year.

    One of the Texas Legislature’s performance measures for the RRC tracks the percentage of wells that are uninspected in a five-year cycle. For the 2020-21 biennium the goal is to have that percentage be 5% or less in each fiscal year. The Commission also employs a risk-based approach in determining inspection sites, through which high priority wells and facilities are inspected more frequently than the five-year interval in accordance with the agency’s Oil and Gas Monitoring and Enforcement Plan.

    At the end of fiscal year 2020 only 1% of wells had not been inspected in a five-year cycle. RRC inspectors are well ahead of pace in fiscal year 2021. As shown in the table below in just the first quarter of the fiscal year the Commission already achieved its goal of having less than 5% of wells uninspected, a number that will keep improving as inspections continue for the rest of the year. 

    In the year before instituting the goal to inspect every well at least once in a five-year cycle, 58% of oil and gas wells had not been inspected at that interval. Since the goal was instituted in fiscal year 2018, the agency has exceeded the annual goal each fiscal year.

    Percent of Oil and Gas Wells Not Inspected Within Five Years

    The benefit of the increased frequency of inspections, which determine compliance with Commission rules, has been a broad reduction in the number of violations for oil and gas wells.

    “We have worked diligently toward achieving this goal,” said RRC Director of Field Operations Clay Woodul. “Our inspectors deserve all the credit for this accomplishment, which is even more impressive considering the pandemic we have been dealing with.”

    Technology improvements have allowed the Railroad Commission to become more efficient in utilizing its limited resources. In 2015, the implementation of the ICE reporting system, which is a web-based application and stands for Inspection, Compliance, and Enforcement, gave the agency the ability to track inspections at the well level, rather than by lease. This helped the agency map wells and identify those wells that had not been inspected in the previous five years.

    Field inspectors, who often work in remote parts of the state, were given the ability to file their reports remotely using ICE without the need for an internet connection. Reports are uploaded when a connection is available. Among other features, ICE also provides inspectors with access to comprehensive, real-time data to help them determine compliance while on site, rather than waiting until they return to a district office.

    The Railroad Commission continues to set the bar higher for itself. For fiscal years 2022 and 2023, the agency’s goal is to reduce still further the percentage of wells uninspected in a five-year cycle to below 0.25%.

  • Jim Wright Staff Appointments

    January 06, 2021

    AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Jim Wright is pleased to announce the names and roles of his personal office staff.

    Kate Zaykowski will serve as Director of Public Affairs, Christopher Hotchkiss will serve as General Counsel, and Megan Moore will serve as Executive Assistant.

    “It’s an honor to have Kate, Christopher, and Megan join my team,” said Commissioner Wright. “We have a lot of work to do, and I know these three will play a critical role in helping me ensure all Texans are aware of and continue to benefit from Texas’ plethora of natural resources. It’s clear we make a great team, and I look forward to working with each of them.”

    Zaykowski has over 10 years of experience in public affairs in both the corporate and public sectors. Most recently, she served as the Director of Public Affairs at Parsley Energy. She has worked at both the state and federal Capitols and earned her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Texas Tech University and her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in communications.

    Hotchkiss has been practicing administrative energy law for over 15 years. Most recently, he was in private practice, focusing almost exclusively on Commission matters. Additionally, he formerly served the Commission as a Staff Attorney in the Enforcement Section, and as an Administrative Law Judge in the Hearings Division, presiding over surface mining as well as oil and gas cases. Hotchkiss earned his Juris Doctorate from St. Mary’s University School of Law and earned his Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Kansas.

    Moore joins the team with several years of organizational experience. She is a graduate of Texas State University with a degree in anthropology.

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.

  • An Assault from All Fronts on Energy Independence

    Opinion - By Commissioner Wayne Christian
    January 05, 2021

    AUSTIN – Last month, the French government pressured Engie – a company that delivers natural gas to homes and businesses all over France – to call off or delay a 20-year, $7 billion contact with a Houston-based company called NextDecade to export Texas natural gas (1). Apparently, the French are concerned Texas gas is too dirty.

    This misplaced concern about emissions will do more harm than good. Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy summed it up well when he recently stated that “cutting production in the U.S. only to see that demand met by dirtier producers elsewhere in the world results in more pollution and more environmental damage. Instead, we should be promoting cleaner production here at home.” (2)

    I couldn’t agree more. France is going to have to get their natural gas from somewhere, and wherever it is it’s going to cause more harm to the environment and geopolitics. France may get its natural gas from Iran, which has dangerous nuclear ambitions and has threatened to blow up Israel several times. Or they could turn to Russia who has dangerous ambitions and invaded Crimea just a couple years ago. Or they could look to the Middle East, a region not exactly well known for its respect of Western legal traditions.

    America, on the other hand, leads the world in the production of clean, affordable energy. In August, my agency, the Railroad Commission of Texas, announced that less than a half percent of the gas produced in Texas was flared or vented, meaning 99.5% went to beneficial use.  Nationally, the six major air pollutants monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have fallen 73 percent since 1970, while our economy grew 262 percent and our population by 60 percent. (3)

    As you can see, despite the claims of the sensationalist, fake-news media, the environment in America is getting better, not worse. At the same time, prior to the pandemic, we were producing more oil and natural gas domestically than any time in history, creating jobs, helping our economy, and bringing us national security in the form of energy independence.

    Unfortunately, environmental extremists are seeking to undo these tremendous gains on every front. We all know about their efforts politically on the national level with proposals like the Green New Deal, fracking bans, carbon taxes, and the Paris Climate Accord, which President-Elect Joe Biden plans to rejoin. This would be a tremendous mistake. The accord carries sky-high costs with very low benefits and unfairly imposes a double standard based on unproven assumptions and climate models that are wrong nearly all the time.

    According to a report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the cost of the Paris Climate Accord to the American economy is steep. The agreement will cost American workers 6.5 million jobs and $3 trillion in economic growth by 2040 (4). The justification for killing millions of American jobs and causing trillions of dollars of damage to our economy is the potential decrease of global temperatures by 0.17 degrees Celsius by 2100 – and that is only if the Paris Accord is implemented perfectly. The Paris Climate Accord is a classic example of what happens when policy is based on politics disguised as science. At the same time the economic devastation of these policies threatens our ability to safeguard against our naturally dangerous climate and other threats our modern machine-based civilization protects us against – provided we can fuel it with affordable energy.

    Radically environmentalists aren’t stopping at fighting for increased regulation and unfair treaties. They are coming for your retirement account as well vis-à-vis Environmental, Social, and Governance investing, the new “woke” way to save money. It is an investment strategy whereby an individual investor or financial products, such as mutual funds, invest assets in equity of a company or financial products that are subjectively considered environmentally and socially conscious.

    In practice, this strategy has caused the divestiture of assets from oil and gas production companies. The goal of ESG investing is to deprive legitimate companies with widely used products and services from necessary capital investment because they, in the opinion of some, cause some indirect or amorphous social harm. ESG investing could cause record bankruptcies in the U.S. energy sector, destroying millions of high-paying jobs and American energy independence. All without removing any of the environmentally harmful energy produced by state-owned companies directed by tyrannical governments.

    ESG investing is growing quickly. From 2016 to 2018, ESG funds in the U.S. increased 44 percent from $8.1 trillion to $11.6 trillion (5), which represents one in four U.S. dollars under professional management. This is despite a Pacific Research Institute study last year that found the S&P 500 outperformed a broad basket of ESG funds over a decade by nearly 44% (6).

    Terrible climate accords, bad investment decisions, and contract cancellations – this is what radical environmentalism gets us. It may have been just one contract of one company in France. But what is happening with Engie – and the thought process underlying it – is emblematic of what is happening everywhere. Natural gas is clean, reliable, and affordable – why is that no longer good enough?

    1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609
    2. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/10/30/why_oil_must_remain_part_of_our_future_144558.html?fbclid=IwAR0gBjwaHXSMjKj6UGGn84E8_sZDj1cDBT7eoh44OW6RVpiHGlblXP3U6MA
    3. https://cleanairact.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/2019-StATS-Report-April-2019.pdf
    4. https://www.uschamber.com/press-release/new-report-examines-costs-us-industrial-sector-obama-s-paris-pledge
    5. https://www.ussif.org/files/US%20SIF%20Trends%20Report%202018%20Release.pdf
    6. https://ipfiusa.org/2020/11/17/in-case-you-missed-it-the-department-of-labor-has-issued-a-finalized-rule-on-esg-investing-in-erisa-pension-plans/

     

    A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. In June 2019, Christian was elected by his fellow commissioners to lead the agency as Chairman, a position he held until September 2020. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven Sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. In addition to his duties as Commissioner, Christian was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve as the Official Representative of Texas on the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren.

  • Jim Wright Sworn in as New Railroad Commissioner

    January 04, 2021

    AUSTIN – Jim Wright was sworn-in as the 51st Railroad Commissioner of Texas today. The lifelong South Texan joins a three-member Commission in leading an agency that is more than a century old.
    The RRC plays a major role in oversight and regulation of the oil and gas industry – an industry that has been the backbone of the state economy and plays a vital role in keeping energy costs low for Texans while also helping pave the way for the nation’s energy independence.

    “Oil and natural gas will make up the majority of our nation’s energy for decades to come and it is best for our state, our nation and the world if that energy is produced right here in Texas,” said Wright. “As commissioner, I will work to streamline enforcement and increase transparency at the Commission, with the ultimate goal of creating a sustainable and dependable lifestyle for all Texans supported by our state’s abundant natural resources.”

    The RRC has a staff of about 850 employees in Austin and district offices across Texas.

    Wright’s next open meeting as commissioner is scheduled for Jan. 6.

     

    Jim Wright was elected to the Railroad Commission of Texas in November 2020. He created a group of environmental services companies that work in the energy industry. He and his wife, Sherry, live in Orange Grove and have five children.





Commissioners