Environmental and Energy Law Blog

Saturday, November 10, 2018

What is the Railroad Commission of Texas?

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) is the Texas state agency that regulates the following areas:

  • The gas and oil industry
  • Safety in the liquefied petroleum gas industry
  • Gas utilities
  • Pipeline safety
  • Surface coal and uranium mining.

Despite its name, however, the RRC ceased regulating railroads in 2005. Established in 1891, the RRC is the oldest regulatory agency in the state of Texas, and it focuses entirely on gas, oil, propane, mining, and pipelines. The RRC’s stated mission is to serve Texas through:

  • Stewardship of the environment and natural resources,
  • Concern for the community and personal safety, and
  • Support of economic vitality and enhanced development for the benefit of Texans.

Oil and gas regulation

As noted above, the RRC regulates the production, exploration, and transportation of gas and oil in Texas. The RRC’s Oil and Gas Division is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and it has nine district offices located throughout the state. These offices ensure compliance with RRC rules in a number of ways, including:

  • The witnessing of well completions
  • Field inspections
  • Pluggings
  • Testing
  • Investigations

In order to carry out its duties as related to oil and gas, the RRC grants drilling permits based on established density and spacing rules. In addition, the RRC:

  • Assigns production allowables on gas and oil wells
  • Receives operators' production reports on gas wells and oil leases
  • Audits the oil disposition path to ensure production didn’t exceed allowables.

The RRC also regulates oil field injection and disposal wells through a federally approved program. Through this program, fluids are injected into either non-productive reservoirs for disposal or productive reservoirs under enhanced recovery projects to increase production. During other pollution prevention activities, waste management is carried out via a variety of methods. In addition, in order to prevent pollution of the state's groundwater and surface resources, the RRC has an abandoned site remediation and abandoned well-plugging program.

Texas Energy, Oil, and Gas Attorney

Energy, oil, and gas laws are always changing. Therefore, it’s imperative that those involved in the energy industry have reliable, experienced, and knowledgeable legal representation to help guide them through the ever-changing Texas legal landscape. In the areas of energy, oil, and gas, it’s particularly important to ensure that all contracts are properly drafted. Energy, oil, and gas contracts are highly sophisticated documents, and it’s important that they be drafted in a manner that protects the rights and responsibilities of all parties involved. At the Law Office of C. William Smalling, P.C., we are highly experienced in the drafting and review of energy, oil, and gas contracts, including surface use agreements, joint operating agreements, farm-out agreements, master service agreements, drilling contracts, licensing agreements for use of seismic or technical data, and nondisclosure agreements. If you are in need of expert energy, oil, and gas legal representation in Texas, contact us today for a consultation.


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