Yesterday, Christi Craddick—one of the State's three
elected Railroad Commissioners—introduced the Texas Oilfield
Relief Initiative, a nine-point plan aimed at easing regulatory
burdens on the energy industry. The initiative will be rolled out
in multiple phases over the next several years.
The first phase of the program is slated for completion by
January and will consist of new guidelines for defining active oil
wells, as well as new marginal well rules for both oil and gas
wells. In particular, for example, Statewide Rule 15 would be made
less onerous by revising the definition of an active oil well
downward from ten to five barrels per month for three consecutive
Other components of the amendments to the rules include cutting
down on well status filings and deliverability reporting;
prioritizing inspections in cities and wetlands; and streamlining
the repermitting process.
According to Commissioner Craddick, the Commission "want[s]
to figure how to have an active, vibrant industry, where we have
costs that can be cut," and to avoid "[o]ver-regulating
companies" in a challenging market. At the same time, Craddick
was clear that the rule changes would not come at the cost of
safety. "[T]hat was priority one," she emphasized at
Tuesday's meeting, "[t]o ensure we do things
environmentally safe—that's our mandate and to protect
Craddick dubbed the initiative "a win-win for both [the]
industry and the Commission." She noted that it "will
save time for our staff" by reducing unnecessary paperwork,
and even just the initial round of rule changes is expected to
"save [the] industry tens of millions" of dollars.
The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers promptly weighed in on
the rule changes, saying through a spokesperson that the
"initiative will undoubtedly help keep the doors open at many
oil and gas businesses, bring jobs back to the oilfield and, most
importantly, provide regulatory stability through solid, common
These changes apparently will also affect landowners and mineral
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