Texas Railroad Commission Proposes New Rule Addressing Seismic Events for Disposal Wells
Today, the Texas Railroad Commission ("RRC") published a proposed rule that would impose new permitting requirements for oilfield waste injection wells. The requirements are intended to address concerns that the technique could be inducing earthquakes in parts of the state.
The proposed rule would require companies planning to locate a disposal well in an area where there is an increased risk of fluid migration to submit information such as location of historic seismic events, as well as logs, geologic cross-sections, and/or structure maps to show the well is safe. Such "increased risk" areas may include, for example, areas with complex geology, proximity of the baserock to the injection interval, transmissive faults, and/or a history of seismic events in the area.
If "injection is suspected of or shown to be causing seismic activity," the RRC would have the authority to modify, suspend, or terminate the operating permit for the well. The RRC estimates that the new requirements would cost applicants approximately $300 more per disposal well permit. The proposal was published in the Texas Register on August 29, 2014, and the RRC will accept public comments on the proposal until noon on September 29, 2014. Read the proposed rulemaking