TRC updates oil, gas well construction rules

The Texas Railroad Commission has amended well construction requirements rule to clarify oil and gas well construction requirements related to casing, cementing, drilling, well control, and completions. The amendments take effect Jan. 1, 2014, and apply to wells drilled within Texas on or after that date.

TRC Commissioner David Porter attributed exploration and production growth to “several prolific shale plays,” saying the commission was updating and enhancing its rules to continue “our agency’s proud legacy of environmental protection and public safety.”

Some changes involve groundwater protection measures. The Texas Legislature, the Texas Water Development Board, and TRC all have evaluated industry's demand on the state’s water supplies. (OGJ Online, July 30, 2012).

TRC staffers said amendments to the TRC Rule 13 (Casing, Cementing, Drilling, Well Control, and Completion Requirements) outline the updates and also more clearly state well-construction requirements, including:

• For wells undergoing hydraulic fracturing treatments, operators are required to pressure test well casings to the maximum pressure expected during fracture treatment and to notify TRC of a failed test. Also during fracturing, operators are required to monitor the annular space between the well’s casings for pressure changes (which could indicate a leak in casing) and suspend fracturing if the annuli monitoring indicates a potential downhole casing leak.

• Requires operators to verify the mechanical integrity of surface casing and intermediate casing for wells in which the drilling time for the next casing string (either the intermediate casing string or the production casing string) exceed 360 hr. This will ensure that rotation motion of the drill string did not damage surface casing integrity or other intermediate casing strings.

• Requires operators to place cement behind casing across and above all formations that have a permit for an injection or disposal well within one-quarter mile of a proposed well;

• Requires TRC approval before setting surface casing to a depth greater than 3,500 ft.

• Establishes additional testing and monitoring requirements for “minimum separation wells” where the vertical distance between the base of usable quality water and the top of a formation to undergo fracturing is less than 1,000 vertical ft. This limits the number of vertical wells that are vertically hydraulically fractured in shallow fields in the Abilene, Midland, San Antonio, and Wichita Falls areas. The provision excludes horizontally completed and fractured wells within major plays in the Barnett and Eagle Ford shale and the Permian basin.

• Requires operators to use air, fresh water, or fresh water-based drilling mud until surface casing is set and cemented in a well to protect usable quality groundwater.

• Operators are required to pump sufficient cement to isolate and control annular gas migration and isolate potential flow zones and zones with corrosive formation fluids.

• Updates references to cement quality, cementing, well equipment, well casing centralizers, and well control, and sets minimum cement sheath thickness of at least ¾ in. around the surface casing and a minimum cement sheath thickness of ½ in. around subsequent casing strings.

• Consolidates and updates requirements for well control and blowout preventers, and distinguishes between the use of well control equipment on inland, bay, and offshore wells. Main rule amendments involve the makeup of BOPs.

• Implements Article 2 of House Bill 2694 to reflect the transfer of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Surface Casing Section to the TRC, where it is the Groundwater Advisory Unit. As usable quality groundwater depth varies statewide, this unit establishes the depth of surface casing required for each well to protect groundwater.

Contact Paula Dittrick at

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

BHI: US oil rig count rises for first time in 30 weeks

07/02/2015 A sudden 12-unit jump in oil-directed rigs during the abbreviated week ended July 2 represented their first rise since Dec. 5, 2014, and helped lif...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...
White Papers

Definitive Guide to Cybersecurity for the Oil & Gas Industry

In the Oil and Gas industry, there is no single adversary and no single threat to the information tech...

UAS Integration for Infrastructure: More than Just Flying

Oil and gas companies recognize the benefits that the use of drones or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) c...

Solutions to Financial Distress Resulting from a Weak Oil and Gas Price Environment

The oil and gas industry is in the midst of a prolonged worldwide downturn in commodity prices. While ...
Sponsored by

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

Better Data, Better Analytics, Better Decisions

When Tue, Oct 27, 2015

The Oil & Gas industry has large amounts of data stored in multiple systems which are purpose built for certain tasks. However, good decisions require insights based upon the data in all of these systems. These systems in turn do not talk to each other. So the process of analyzing data, gaining insights, and making decisions is a slow one and often a flawed one. Good decisions require accurate analytics and accurate analytics require superior/sustainable data quality and governance. This webinar focuses on:

  • The importance of data quality and governance
  • How technological advances are making data quality and governance sustainable in order to get the accurate analytics to make solid decisions.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Seven Lakes Technologies and Noah Consulting.


Operating a Sustainable Oil & Gas Supply Chain in North America

When Tue, Oct 20, 2015

Short lead times and unpredictable conditions in the Oil & Gas industry can create costly challenges in supply chains. By implementing a LEAN culture of continuous improvement you can eliminate waste, increase productivity and gain end-to-end visibility leading to a sustainable and well-oiled supply chain.

Please join us for this webcast sponsored by Ryder System, Inc.


On Demand

Leveraging technology to improve safety & reliability

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

Attend this informative webinar to learn more about how to leverage technology to meet the new OSHA standards and protect your employees from the hazards of arc flash explosions.


The Resilient Oilfield in the Internet of Things World

Tue, Sep 22, 2015

As we hear about the hype surrounding the Internet of Things, the oil and gas industry is questioning what is different than what is already being done. What is new?  Using sensors and connecting devices is nothing new to our mode of business and in many ways the industry exemplifies many principles of an industrial internet of things. How does the Internet of Things impact the oil and gas industry?

Prolific instrumentation and automation digitized the industry and has changed the approach to business models calling for a systems led approach.  Resilient Systems have the ability to adapt to changing circumstances while maintaining their central purpose.  A resilient system, such as Maximo, allows an asset intensive organization to leverage connected devices by merging real-time asset information with other critical asset information and using that information to create a more agile organization.  

Join this webcast, sponsored by IBM, to learn how about Internet of Things capabilities and resilient systems are impacting the landscape of the oil and gas industry.


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!


Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected