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Texas Addresses Seismic Activity with Amendments to Disposal Well Regulations

By Ilya Batikov

From the Texas Railroad Commission:

The three Texas Railroad Commissioners today unanimously adopted disposal well rule amendments that are designed to address disposal well operations in areas of historical or future seismic activity. Disposal wells are permitted by the Railroad Commission to safely dispose of non-hazardous produced water (saltwater) and hydraulic fracture flowback fluid from oil and gas wells.

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The main components of the adopted rule amendments, which become effective Nov. 17, are:

  • requiring applicants for new disposal wells to conduct a search of the U.S. Geological Survey seismic database for historical earthquakes within a circular area of 100 square miles around a proposed, new disposal well;
  • clarifying the Commission’s staff authority to modify or suspend or terminate a disposal well permit, including modifying disposal volumes and pressures or shutting in a well if scientific data indicates a disposal well is likely to be or determined to be contributing to seismic activity;
  • allowing Commission staff to require operators to disclose the current annually reported volumes and pressures on a more frequent basis if staff determines a need for this information; and
  • allowing Commission staff to require an applicant for a disposal well permit to provide additional information, including pressure front boundary calculations, 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.

Click here to read the full text of the amendments (see pages 30-36).

Tags: activity, and, Oil, Seismic Activity, Seismic, Gas, Railroad, Oil and Gas, Commission, Energy, Railroad Commission, Texas

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