The Texas Railroad Commission’s Proposed Rule Amendments Governing Injection Wells

Author: Barclay Richard Nicholson Publication | October 2014
Published in: Pratt’s Energy Law Report

Introduction

The Railroad Commission of Texas (the “Commission”) recently proposed new regulations for oil and gas operation-related injection wells (“injection wells”) in response to publicity over purported links between “seismic events [that] have infrequently occurred in areas where there is coincident oil and gas activity”—namely, injection wells. After some publicity related to reports of small earthquakes in the North Texas town of Azle, the Commission hired Craig Pearson as an in-house seismologist to coordinate the exchange of information between scientists, academics, and oil and gas operators to help address any potential issues. Similarly, reports of minor earthquakes in other parts of North Texas have led researchers from Southern Methodist University to investigate for a link between those earthquakes and injection well activity in the area.

Concerns over “induced seismicity” are not confined to Texas. An observed rise in seismic activity in central Oklahoma since 2009 that has led some to draw links between that seismic activity and increased injection well activity. Also giving rise to some publicity were reports of several earthquakes occurring near Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in 2009, and some argue an injection well link to those earthquakes as well.

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