Texas Railroad Commission Proposes Rules to Ensure Natural Gas Supply During Weather Emergencies



AUSTIN — Texas Board of Railroad commissioners have approved a proposed weather protection rule to help protect Texans during weather emergencies that can occur at any time of the year.

The proposed rule that was approved today is open for public comment until August 15, 2022, after which staff will consider comments before the commissioners adopt a final rule, which is expected before the end of the summer.

The weatherization rule covers critical facilities that appear on the state’s electricity supply chain map at the time the rule was adopted, and all subsequent iterations of the map. These include natural gas wells and oil leases producing casing head gas, underground storage facilities and gas processing plants. Gas pipelines that appear on the electricity supply chain map and that directly serve electricity generation are also subject to the rule.

The provisions of the rule include, but are not limited to, the following requirements:

  • Implement weather emergency preparedness measures intended to ensure sustained operations during a weather emergency that may endanger the operation of the state power grid.
  • Address any known weather-related forced shutdowns that may have occurred prior to December 1, 2022.
  • Contact the RRC if a facility experiences a weather-related forced shutdown during a weather emergency.

The rule covers a large group of facility and infrastructure types in regions of the state with different weather and geographic conditions. Operators will be required to weatherize facilities using weatherization methods applicable to the facility based on the type of facility, critical components of the facility, location of the facility and meteorological data for the county(ies) of the installation. The ruler includes a chart with extreme low and high temperatures for each county in the state compiled by the state’s climatologist.

Common methods of weatherization that are used throughout the oil and gas industry – from heat tracing devices to thermal insulation and chemical injection systems – are included in the rule that operators must use as needed for an installation depending on the locations.

Inspectors from the RRC Critical Infrastructure Division will inspect the facilities and enforce all provisions of the rule; and fines for administrative violations could reach up to $1 million a day.

“These new weatherization rules will further ensure Texans have reliable access to natural gas when they need it most,” President Wayne Christian said. “The proposed weatherization rules represent more than a year of collaborative effort between RRC staff, our sister state agencies and industry partners who have spent countless hours working on this proposal. .

“This is a critical step in ensuring greater oil and gas production in inclement weather, but with 1,000 people moving into Texas every day, the long-term solution for our state’s energy needs is to invest in and build more reliable, cheap natural gas drawn electricity production,” continued Christian. “The time has come to end all preferential market treatment and taxpayer subsidies for forms of energy intermittent and unreliable electricity generation and instead invest in reliable and resilient forms of electricity generation, such as fossil fuels.”

“The rule proposed today is the culmination of countless hours of hard work by agency staff, stakeholders and other regulatory and legislative officials,” Commissioner Christi Craddick said. “Ensuring electricity generators can access the energy sources they need in the event of a weather emergency is essential, and I am proud of the steps we have taken so far. We took extreme care to consider the needs of all Texans, resulting in a thoughtful proposal that protects the natural gas supply chain. I look forward to receiving feedback and adopting this rule once finalized. »

“Today’s proposed rule strikes an appropriate balance to ensure facilities are prepared for extreme weather events while providing the necessary flexibility for operators to ensure compliance with Commission standards,” Commissioner Jim Wright said. “This flexibility component is crucial as we need to ensure that weatherization requirements do not adversely affect current or future production of our natural resources. I look forward to receiving public comment on this proposal and finalizing the critical infrastructure weatherization rule as required by Senate Bill 3 in the coming months.

The proposed rule and the section for providing comments can be found in Chapter 3 on the RRC website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/general-counsel/rules/proposed-rules/.


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