Agency News Items - 2022
Railroad Commission Hires First Chief Data Officer, New Government Relations DirectorJanuary 27, 2022
AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission recently hired its first Chief Data Officer and also a new director of Government Relations.
Chief Data Officer Alkesh Amodwala and Government Relations Director Krista Duke have hit the ground running as the agency implements new legislation, including bills on data governance and natural gas infrastructure.
“We are very fortunate to be able to add Alkesh and Krista to our staff,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “Each brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the agency that will be vital for the RRC in important initiatives to help residents and energy industry operators in Texas.”
Amodwala brings more than 15 years of experience in supply chain development, business intelligence, analytics and data governance/strategy to the RRC. Among his roles, he has worked for General Motors IT Branch – Global Purchasing and Supply Chain, Hewlett Packard and Home Depot.
Amodwala leads a new team in the RRC’s Information Technology Services Division focusing on data projects. The 10-member team consolidates experts in the agency and is working on data initiatives as well as supporting the work of the agency’s ongoing development of a map of the electric grid supply chain.
Duke, who is playing a critical role with the implementation of all the RRC’s state legislation and any federal legislation, has wide-ranging experience at the state Capitol. She most recently served in the Texas Senate as General Counsel and as Legislative Director for two senators, respectively. In addition, she held leadership positions in the offices of members of the Texas House of Representatives and House Committees.
She has a bachelor’s degree from St. Edward’s University and a law degree from St. Mary’s University.
Christian: Texas’ Flaring Rate Continues Record DropJanuary 26, 2022
AUSTIN – The statewide flaring rate fell to an even lower record level at the end of 2021, according to the Railroad Commission’s latest production report. The percentage of natural gas flared in Texas dropped from a previous record low of 0.20% in September 2021 to a new record low of 0.19% in November.
Texas has one of the lowest flaring rates of large oil and gas producing states in the country, with an average rate of flaring that has remained significantly less than 2% for more than two years.
“Report after report shows that Texas is on the right track to reducing and maintaining low levels of flaring,” RRC Chairman Wayne Christian said of the report. “Although the mainstream media often ignores this record achieving accomplishment by government and industry, it’s proof that a cooperative collaboration can bring positive results, and I continue to be proud of the effort and its outcome.”
“Texas proudly boasts conservative, pro-business policies which are bringing 1,000 people a day to our state,” Christian continued. “As we need to produce more oil and gas to keep up with our growth, I’m committed to a consistent and predictable regulatory process based on sound science that allows oil and gas companies to responsibly produce plentiful, affordable and reliable energy to meet the increasing demand for all Texans.”
A lifelong conservative businessman, Wayne Christian was elected as our 50th Texas Railroad Commissioner in November 2016. Prior to his time at the Commission, Christian served seven sessions in the Texas House of Representatives, accumulating a strong record of standing for free markets and against burdensome regulations. Christian is married to his wife, Lisa, and together they have three daughters, Liza, Lindsey and Lauren. You can learn more about Chairman Christian here: https://rrc.texas.gov/About-Us/Commissioners/Wayne-Christian/.
State’s Critical Natural Gas Supply Demonstrating Significant Progress Winterizing EquipmentJanuary 19, 2022
AUSTIN – Ongoing RRC site visits to natural gas facilities show that significant progress has been made by Texas facilities to supply the fuel in emergency weather conditions.
As the recent freezing weather at the end of December demonstrated, much needed quantities of natural gas did flow to electric generating power plants and into people’s homes for heating.
It’s very important to understand that daily gas production can fluctuate from hour to hour due to a variety of reasons, such as scheduled maintenance and scheduled downtime for safety reasons. Average statewide daily production can vary as much as more than 2 billion cubic feet per day, even during late spring. Given Texas’ production totals, this means more than 90% of the daily stays online.
Daily natural gas production is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to natural gas supply. Gas produced from wellheads needs to be processed and transported to end users.
The vast majority of the state’s natural supply is stored in underground storage facilities and packed in major pipelines. For this reason, RRC inspectors not only visit natural gas wells but, more importantly, natural storage and pipelines.
As of mid-December, the state had approximately 448 billion cubic feet of working gas in underground storage, and another 30-35 billion cubic feet is typically in pipelines at any given time.
Since the end of last summer, RRC inspectors have conducted site visits at more than 3,800 natural gas facilities representing oil and gas leases with nearly 22,000 active wells, gas storage facilities that account for about 76% the state’s gas storage, and more than 350 pipelines transporting natural gas.
During the site visits, which are continuing throughout the winter, RRC inspectors have been directly observing measures operators are undertaking to provide gas supplies under normal and emergency conditions. Inspectors have physically observed what devices natural gas facilities have put in place and processes to harden their assets against cold weather.
About 98% of the facilities visited had been winterized. The remaining 2% or so were in the process of winterizing at the time when RRC visited them in the last few months.
“We have been putting boots on the ground and eyes on the state’s critical assets,” said Ted Wooten, RRC Director of Critical Infrastructure. “Based on what our inspectors have observed, natural gas producers and pipeline operators have taken necessary actions to ensure gas will continue to flow this winter to people’s homes and power plants.”
Preliminary data for October 2021 shows the statewide average natural gas production at about 26.5 billion cubic feet per day, which was up by more than 1.5 billion cubic feet per day than in October 2020.
And Texas continues to add more production capacity.
Since the start of the fourth quarter of last year, operators in the Permian Basin have added more than 30 drilling rigs to the basin, bringing the total to nearly 300 as of January with the state at more at more than 400. From August to December, well completions averaged more than 400 per month – the highest since first-quarter 2020, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Information RRC inspectors have been collecting is also helping the agency to develop industry best practices and guidelines. There is a best practices report that’s included as the last attachment in the Texas Electricity Supply Chain Security and Mapping Committee Report.
RRC Commissioners Assess More Than $845,000 in PenaltiesJanuary 14, 2022
AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas assessed $848,845 in fines involving 185 enforcement dockets against operators and businesses at the Commissioners’ Conference on Tuesday. The Commission has primary oversight and enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry and intrastate pipeline safety.
Seven dockets involved $385,383 in penalties after operators failed to appear at Commission enforcement proceedings. Master Default Orders can be found on the RRC Hearings Division webpage.
Operators were ordered to come into compliance with Commission rules and assessed $61,912 for oil and gas, LP-Gas or pipeline safety rule violations. Pipeline operators and excavators were assessed $401,550 for violations of the Commission’s Pipeline Damage Prevention rules. Master Agreed Orders can be found on the RRC General Counsel webpage.
In the absence of timely motions for rehearing, decisions are final as stated in these final orders.
Texas Drilling Permit and Completion Statistics for December 2021January 13, 2022
AUSTIN – The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 842 original drilling permits in December 2021 compared to 468 in December 2020. The December 2021 total includes 756 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, six to re-enter plugged wellbores, and 77 for re-completions of existing wellbores.
The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in December 2021 is 179 oil, 65 gas, 552 oil or gas, 38 injection, and eight other permits.
In December 2021, Commission staff processed 605 oil, 99 gas and 211 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 493 oil, 77 gas, and 116 injection completions in December 2020.
Total well completions processed for 2021 year-to-date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 9,269 compared to 14,140 recorded during the same period in 2020.
Detailed data on drilling permits and well completions for the month can be found at this link:
TABLE 1 – DECEMBER 2021 TEXAS OIL AND GAS NEW DRILLING PERMITS AND COMPLETIONS BY RAILROAD COMMISSION OF TEXAS DISTRICT*
PERMITS TO DRILL NEW OIL/GAS HOLES
NEW OIL COMPLETIONS
NEW GAS COMPLETIONS
(1) SAN ANTONIO AREA
(2) REFUGIO AREA
(3) SOUTHEAST TEXAS
(4) DEEP SOUTH TEXAS
(5) EAST CENTRAL TX
(6) EAST TEXAS
(7B) WEST CENTRAL TX
(7C) SAN ANGELO AREA
(8A) LUBBOCK AREA
(9) NORTH TEXAS
*A district map is available on the Railroad Commission of Texas website at https://rrc.texas.gov/media/3bkhbut0/districts_color_8x11.pdf.
Texas Oil and Gas Production Statistics for October 2021January 12, 2022
AUSTIN – Crude oil and natural gas production as reported to the Railroad Commission of Texas for October 2021 came from 164,189 oil wells and 86,010 gas wells.
The RRC reports that from November 2020 to October 2021, total Texas reported production was 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 10.3 trillion cubic feet of total gas. Crude oil production reported by the RRC is limited to oil produced from oil leases and does not include condensate, which is reported separately by the RRC.
For additional oil and gas production statistics, including the ranking of each Texas County by crude oil, total gas and condensate production, visit the RRC’s website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/research-and-statistics/production-data/texas-monthly-oil-gas-production/.
TABLE 1 (October 2021): Statewide Production*
Preliminary Reported Total Volume
Average Daily Production
112,667,446 bbls (barrels)
821,516,825 mcf (thousand cubic feet)
* These are preliminary figures based on production volumes reported by operators and will be updated as late and corrected production reports are received.
TABLE 2 (October 2020): Statewide Production
Updated Reported Total Volume
Updated Average Daily Production
Preliminary Reported Total Volume
Preliminary Average Daily Production
TABLE 3 (October 2021): Texas Top 10 Crude Oil Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production
Crude Oil (bbls)
TABLE 4 (October 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Gas (Gas Well Gas & Casinghead) Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production
Total Gas (mcf)
TABLE 5 (October 2021): Texas Top 10 Total Condensate Producing Counties Ranked by Preliminary Production
RRC Statement on Reports of Cold Weather Impact on Natural Gas ProductionJanuary 07, 2022
AUSTIN – Many media reports beat the warning drums of a dire situation with the state’s natural gas production last weekend. That is incorrect.
The Railroad Commission’s objective is to help ensure there’s enough gas to protect Texas residents. Power stayed on, lights were on, and gas kept flowing to residences last weekend.
Yes, production can fluctuate on any given day at any given hour for various reasons. However, the RRC has not received any indications that production decreased anywhere near the extent that has been reported. During the weekend and after, major producers we contacted did not report any drastic disruptions of gas production.
We have looked at data, and according to S&P Global analysis, production on the Texas side of Permian was up 570 million cubic feet/day on Jan. 3, largely a function of a return to normal after a one day decrease in production on Sunday. This volume accounts for 2% of Texas’ daily production. Sunday’s temporary drop did not have a real impact on the gas market or the grid.
Again, there was plenty of gas flowing to power generators and homes.
The sources used in some media reports utilized pipeline nominations – which are basically contract requests for space in the pipeline system to transport gas – to estimate real-time gas production. That approach is speculative and does not paint a complete picture, especially given that gas trading markets were closed for the holiday weekend.
The Permian Basin also saw a recent acceleration in drilling and completion activities. Since the start of the fourth quarter of last year, Permian operators have added more than 30 rigs to the basin, bringing the total to an estimated 300 in the week ended Dec. 29. In November, the number of wells drilled surged to a 19-month high at 300. From August to November, well completions averaged more than 400 per month – the highest since first-quarter 2020, based on data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Production is just one piece of the puzzle to help gas flowing to Texans and electrical power producers throughout the state. Gas storage plays a very important role, as well.
Processed, dry gas that is already in storage, ready to flow to homes and facilities, including power plants, is critical. It can lessen the impact of potential gas market or production fluctuations. As of mid-December ahead of this winter season, the state had approximately 448 billion cubic feet of working gas already in underground storage.
A final point to note, is that the first media outlet to claim significant problems from the cold weather, Bloomberg, has now revised some of its claims. Their early week article stated that nearly 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas had to be flared due to cold weather issues. But they have issued a correction that it was nearly 1 million cubic feet that was flared, a thousand-fold drop. One million cubic feet represents about 0.0035% of Texas production statewide.