Oil & Gas

Regulating the exploration, production, & transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas


Notice to Oil and Gas Operators: Gardendale Seismic Response Action

September 24, 2021

Since February 2020, six felt earthquakes of magnitude (M) 3.5 or greater have occurred in an area of the Midland Basin from northeast Ector County to southwest Martin County known as the Gardendale Seismic Response Area (SRA). These included a M 3.7 earthquake in southwestern Martin County, about eight miles northwest of Midland, on September 7, 2021, and two M 3.6 earthquakes northeast of Odessa in February 2020 and May 2021.   

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) has authority to regulate Saltwater Disposal (SWD) well activity and may exercise that authority to address seismic activity [see 16 Texas Administrative Code §3.9 (6)(A)(vi) and §3.46 (d)(1)(f)]. The RRC staff’s analysis of available information has determined that SWD injection likely contributes to seismic activity in the Gardendale SRA. Therefore, the RRC has requested that operators in the Gardendale SRA reduce SWD activity as a means of altering conditions likely contributing to seismic activity. The RRC anticipates these procedures to be in place for at least a year from initiation. The RRC has identified 76 permitted SWD wells in the Gardendale SRA and the operators of those wells are being notified in writing of this request.   

To view the full notice, visit the RRC website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/oil-and-gas/publications-and-notices/notices-to-operators/

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What we do

The Railroad Commission, through its Oil and Gas Division, regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. Its statutory role is to:

  1. prevent waste of the state's natural resources,
  2. to protect the correlative rights of different interest owners,
  3. to prevent pollution, and
  4. to provide safety in matters such as hydrogen sulfide.

The division accomplishes these goals by permitting and reporting requirements; by field inspections, testing programs and monitoring industry activities in the field; and through programs to remediate abandoned wells and sites through the use of fees and taxes paid by industry.
The Oil and Gas Division is headquartered in Austin, Texas with nine district offices spread over the state.

Drilling Permit Processing Time
as of July 23, 2021

Expedited Permits: approximately 2
Business days
Standard Permits: approximately 4
Business days

Tips on submitting a problem-free drilling permit.