State Regulations: Texas
The Railroad Commission of Texas (RCC), through the Oil and Gas Division, administers oil and gas exploration, development, and production operations, except for oil and gas leasing, royalty payments, surface damages through oil and gas operations, and operator-landowner contracts. The RCC and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), formerly, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding clarifying jurisdiction over oil field wastes generated in connection with oil and gas exploration, development, and production. The RCC Oil and Gas Division operates nine district offices, each staffed with field enforcement and support personnel.
Railroad Commission of Texas
Oil & Gas Division
P.O. Box 12967
Austin, TX 78711-2967
(512) 463-6838 (phone)
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 13087
Austin, TX 78711-3087 (mailing address)
12100 Park 35 Circle
Austin, TX 78753 (street address)
(512) 239-1000 (phone)
Disposal Practices and Applicable Regulations
The state wide rules (SWRs) relative to oil and gas operations under the jurisdiction of the RCC are found in Title 16 (Economic Regulation), Part 1 (Railroad Commission of Texas), Chapter 3 (Oil and Gas Division) of the Texas Administrative Code. The SWRs are available online through the viewer at the Secretary of State's website.
- Rule §3.8 (Water Protection) provides for various disposal methods that do not require a permit:
- Disposal of inert wastes by a method other than disposal into surface water;
- Disposal of certain categories of low-chloride drilling fluid by landfarming;
- Disposal of other drilling fluid down the annulus of a producing well or down the well bore of a dry and abandoned well prior to plugging, so long as the wastes are generated at that specific well site; and
- Disposal of completion workover pit wastes by burial in a completion/workover pit.
- Rule §3.9 (Disposal Wells) governs the permitting, operating, monitoring, and testing of disposal by injection into a porous formation not productive of oil, gas, or geothermal resources. All applications, including those with respect to commercial disposal wells, require permits from the RCC. This includes disposal into highly porous cap rock formations along the gulf coast as well as disposal into salt caverns. Slurry injection above into a non-productive formation above formation fracture pressure has not yet been conducted in Texas. Any applications would come under Rule §3.9.
- Rule §3.14 (Plugging) conceivably allows operators to use drilling fluids and muds as spacers between plugs in an abandoned well during the plugging procedures for abandonment, provided the fluid meets certain weight and viscosity requirements.
- Rule §3.46 (Fluid Injection into Productive Reservoirs) provides the requirements for fluid injection into reservoirs productive of oil, gas, or geothermal resources.
- Rule §3.98 (Standards for Management of Hazardous Oil and Gas Waste) governs non-exempt, hazardous oil and gas waste. Oil and gas waste that is not uniquely associated with exploration and production primary field operations, and hence non-exempt from regulation as hazardous waste under Rule §3.98(e) and 40 CFR §261.4(b)(5) requires a hazardous waste determination. If determined hazardous, the oil and gas waste is subject to Rule §3.98.