Reclamation Plants

One of the most important Commission goals is to ensure that Texas natural resources are not wasted. As a result, reclamation from oil and gas waste streams is highly encouraged.

Tank bottoms are one of the most common sources of reclaimed oil. Tank bottoms, sometimes referred to as basic sediment and water or BS&W, are material that accumulates in the bottoms of producing lease tanks and pipeline storage tanks. Particulates from oil settle out and over time form a mixture of sediment, rust, and oil on the bottom of the tank. These tank bottoms can be sent to a Reclamation Plant with an “R-9” permit issued by the Railroad Commission of Texas to separate the waste from any reclaimable oil.

Reclamation of tank bottoms and other hydrocarbon wastes can be done using separation by heat or mechanical separation. Using a heat source, the operator can separate oil from the oil and gas waste by utilizing the hydrocarbon's boiling point which is lower than the surrounding solids. A centrifuge can also be used to move the mixture rapidly in a circle causing the mixture to separate by each constituent's density.

Statewide Rule 57 governs permitting and operation of Reclamation Plants. Note that this is not applicable to the recycling or reusing of drilling mud, which requires a permit to operate a Commercial Mud Recycling Facility under Chapter 4, Subchapter B. Reclamation Plants may only receive tank bottoms and “other hydrocarbon wastes” such as skim oil and crude oil or condensate associated with pipeline ruptures and other spills. Receipt and treatment of any other wastes will require additional permits. Many commercial waste treatment and recycling facilities recover and sell oil as part of their processes, and require a Reclamation Plant permit in addition to their other permits. If you are applying for such a facility, you may submit the Form R-9 as part of your full facility permit application.

A permit to operate a reclamation plant is not transferable. A new permit must be obtained by the new operator by submitting a complete application. 

Statewide Rule 57 governs permitting and operation of Reclamation Plants. To apply for a Reclamation Plant permit fill out a Form R-9. The Instructions for the Form R-9 can be found here. In addition to the Form R-9, the Reclamation Plant Permit Application should include:

  1. A brief description of the treating process should identify how incoming waste is received and stored, the process (heat or mechanical) used to separate the oil, where the separated oil and waste will be stored, and where all residual waste solids and liquids will be taken for disposal.
  2. Safety Data Sheets (SDS) must be submitted for any chemicals used in the separation process.
  3. A site plan or schematic diagram must show the facility boundaries including fences, roads, and any paved areas. Equipment and tanks must be shown. Tanks should be labeled with the size, contents, and tank material (metal, fiberglass, etc.).
  4. If applicant does not own the surface property, submit a signed copy of the lease agreement between the applicant and the surface owner.  
  5. To fulfill financial security requirements under Statewide Rule 78, a Closure Cost Estimate must be submitted with the R-9 application. Note that ITEM 4: FINANCIAL ASSURANCE on the "Instructions for the Form R-9" is outdated. Once the Closure Cost Estimate is approved by Technical Permitting, financial security in the form of a bond (Form CF-1) or letter of credit (Form CF-2) will be requested. More information can be found on the “Commercial Facilities” page.
  6. To fulfill the public notice requirements:
  • A copy of the application must be mailed or delivered to the county clerk of the county where the reclamation plant is to be located, and to the city clerk or other appropriate city official (if the reclamation plant is located within the corporate limits of the city), on or before the date the application is filed with the commission.
  • Provide the date that the full permit application was mailed or delivered to the county clerk and, if applicable, to the city clerk.
  • Notice of the application must be published once by the applicant in a newspaper of general circulation for the county where the reclamation plant is to be located, in a form approved by the commission. Publication shall occur on or before the date the application is filed with the commission. Proof of publication must be filed with the commission.

Mail the original application to:
Railroad Commission of Texas 
Technical Permitting 
P.O. Box 12967 
Austin, Texas 78711-2967

File one copy of the application with the appropriate District Office.