Texas RRC: Proposals to Amend Fracking Regulations Underway

The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC) is considering amendments to rules regulating fracking waste water disposal, the RRC told Rigzone Wednesday. However, the RRC said it was laying the groundwork for best practices in the industry, and not investigating whether or not there is a link between disposal wells and seismic events in the North Texas area near Azle, where the last felt earthquake in Texas occurred Jan. 29.

“The Commission’s seismologist’s role has been to facilitate an exchange of information from Azle-area oil and gas disposal well operators to Southern Methodist University (SMU) researchers, who are the ones directly investigating whether there is a link between North Texas Azle-area oil and gas disposal wells and seismic events in that area,” Ramona Nye, the media relations spokesperson for the RRC, said.

The main components of the rule amendment proposals, if adopted, are:

  • Requiring applicants for new disposal wells to conduct a search of the U.S. Geological Survey seismic database for historical earthquakes near proposed locations of a new disposal well
  • Expanding the Commission’s staff authority to amend, modify or suspend a disposal well permit, including modifying disposal volumes and pressures or shutting in a well if scientific data indicates a disposal well is causing seismic activity
  • Allowing Commission staff to require operators disclose the current annually reported volume and pressure amounts on a more frequent basis if staff determines a need for this information
  • Allowing Commission staff to require an applicant for a disposal well permit to provide additional information to demonstrate that disposal fluids will remain confined if the well is to be located in an area where conditions exist that may increase the risk that the fluids may not be confined, such as complex geology

The public has until noon Sept. 29 to comment to the Commission on the rules, Nye said.


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