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Well site inspection goals exceeded by Texas oil and gas regulator

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In 2018, the Railroad Commission began work toward the ambitious goal of inspecting every one of the nearly 440,000 oil and gas wells in the state at least once every five years. But the agency has now said it is well on its way to exceeding its goal again.

One of the Texas legislature’s performance measures for the RRC tracks the percentage of wells that are uninspected in a five-year cycle. For the 2020-21 biennium the goal is to have that percentage be 5 percent or less in each fiscal year.

The commission also employs a risk-based approach in determining inspection sites, through which high priority wells and facilities are inspected more frequently than the five-year interval in accordance with the agency’s Oil and Gas Monitoring and Enforcement Plan.

At the end of fiscal year 2020 only 1 percent of wells had not been inspected in a five-year cycle. RRC inspectors are well ahead of pace in fiscal year 2021. In the year before instituting the goal to inspect every well at least once in a five-year cycle, 58 percent of oil and gas wells had not been inspected at that interval. Since the goal was instituted in fiscal year 2018, the agency has exceeded the annual goal each fiscal year.

The benefit of the increased frequency of inspections, which determine compliance with commission rules, has been a broad reduction in the number of violations for oil and gas wells.

“We have worked diligently toward achieving this goal,” said RRC director of field operations Clay Woodul. “Our inspectors deserve all the credit for this accomplishment, which is even more impressive considering the pandemic we have been dealing with.”

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