In recent weeks, the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) approved several amendments to the Administrative Code relating to drilling, casing, cementing, well control, and the commercial recycling of produced water and/or hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid.On August 21, 2012, the RRC proposed regulations covering:
These changes reflect the transfer of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Groundwater Advisory Unit to the RRC. Proposed § 3.13 details the RRC's requirements for all wells, consolidates the requirements for well control and blowout preventers, and updates the requirements for drilling, casing, cementing, and fracture stimulation.
This section provides for the isolation of usable-quality water zones, potentially productive zones, and over-pressured zones in order to prevent contamination and the migration of fluids behind the casing. Important provisions include:
On September 11, 2012, the RRC approved new regulations relating to the commercial recycling of produced water and/or hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid. (16 Tex. Admin. Code, Chapter Four, Subchapter B, Divisions I-VI).
Proposed Division 5 sets out requirements for off-lease or centralized commercial recycling, while proposed Division 6 concerns stationary commercial recycling of produced water and/or hydraulic fracturing flowback fluid.
Under the proposed regulations, a commercial recycling applicant must provide engineering, geological, and other information sufficient to show that the "issuance of the permit will not result in the waste of oil, gas, or other geothermal resources, the pollution of surface or subsurface water, or a threat to the public health or safety."
On-lease, non-commercial recycling is to be authorized by concurrent amendments to 16 Texas Administrative Code § 3.8, relating to water protection, which states that "no person conducting activities subject to regulation by the commission may cause or allow pollution of surface or subsurface water in the state."The amendments approved on August 21, 2012 can be found at http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/rules/prop-amend-3-13-Aug21-2012.PDF; and the September 11, 2012 amendments are at is http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/rules/prop-amend-3-8-comm-recycling-Sept2012.PDF.
This article was prepared by Barclay R. Nicholson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 713 651 3662) and Stephen C. Dillard (email@example.com or 713 651 5507) from Fulbright's Energy Practice and Fulbright's Litigation Practice.
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