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Railroad Commission strengthens oil well construction standards
Aug 01, 2013 | 769 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By David Porter

Texas Railroad Commissioner

Texas is the nation’s top oil and natural gas producing state, representing a staggering 40 percent of the country’s oil production and 30 percent of its natural gas production.

Texas also leads the country in energy policy and technology, and prolific oil and gas plays across the state will continue to fuel an unprecedented growth of exploration and production.

The Texas Railroad Commission is responsible for overseeing this booming industry across our state. For more than 120 years, the Railroad Commission has played a critical role in the establishment of Texas as an international energy leader. As the state’s senior energy regulator, it has been my top priority that we continue this tradition by ensuring that our state’s rules and regulations account for current technologies and environmental and safety needs in a manner that is efficient and consistent with sound market principles.

Accordingly, my fellow Railroad Commissioners and I have been working with various stakeholders over the past year to amend Statewide Rule 13, the rule governing well construction requirements. Our objective was to ensure that every oil and gas well drilled in the state follows the best practices already being implemented by the oil and gas industry across Texas.

Based on extensive input, deliberation and collaboration among Railroad Commission engineers and geologists, oil and gas industry representatives, landowners and environmentalists, the amended rule successfully meets this objective. The rule now more clearly outlines the requirements for all wells, consolidates the requirements for well control and blow-out preventers and updates the requirements for drilling, casing, cementing and fracture stimulation. These requirements will be applied fairly and do not add unnecessary burdens and costs to operators, and importantly, are not intended to have a more significant impact on smaller businesses than larger corporations.

The rule also requires additional safeguards for groundwater protection. It is important to note that these safeguards are just that: precautionary measures. Thanks to the oil and gas industry’s best practices and strict regulation and enforcement by the Railroad Commission, there has never been a documented cased of groundwater contamination due to hydraulic fracturing in Texas.

As Texas Railroad Commissioner, I am proud that we strengthened this rule under my watch, and I commend all stakeholders for their expertise and steadfast commitment over the past year. This rulemaking process is a prime example of all sides coming together to satisfy one mutual goal: effective energy regulations that ensure resource recovery operations meet or exceed environmental and safety compliance standards.

Once again, with stricter well construction requirements, Texas is pioneering the way for other states to adopt similar measures and sending a strong message to the federal government. We in Texas know best how to achieve a balance of economic vitality and environmental safety – as we responsibly and proudly reign as the top producer in the country.
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