Texas launches internet well permitting system

The Texas Railroad Commission and the US Department of Energy on Thursday launched a digital well permitting system. Energy Sec. Bill Richardson said the electronic system 'can save the industry and its regulators millions of dollars and countless hours of labor.'


The Texas Railroad Commission and the US Department of Energy on Thursday launched a digital well permitting system.

DOE said the first transmission took place at a Dallas seminar, "Putting the Internet to Work." It said a Burlington Resources Co. employee filed for the permit through the internet and received TRC confirmation within minutes. DOE said paper applications usually take days or even weeks to process.

Energy Sec. Bill Richardson said the electronic system "can save the industry and its regulators millions of dollars and countless hours of labor."

In February 1999, DOE said it would fund a third of the $2.1 million to develop and test TRC's Electronic Compliance and Approval Process (ECAP) system (OGJ, Feb. 22, 1999, p. 24). The pilot project focused on electronic filing, review, and approval of drilling permits, which comprise 10% of the 150,000 compliance permits filed in Texas yearly.

Following the pilot program, TRC plans to expand ECAP to include more-complex drilling permits, additional attachments, and reporting capabilities. By September 2001, TRC plans to integrate the system with existing geographic information and other mainframe computer systems, ultimately adapting the paperless process to the entire regulatory life cycle of Texas oil and gas wells.

DOE said since ECAP eliminates paper handling and duplicate data entry and shortens review periods by 2-4 days. TRC expects to reduce the costs for each permit filing by $200 or more.

TRC has estimated that, if Texas operators use the online process for only 25% of the state's oil and gas permits, the economic benefits could be more than $17 million/year. DOE says adoption of ECAP technology by other oil states could result in savings of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The Petroleum Technology Transfer Council, the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, and the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association sponsored the "Putting the Internet to Work" seminar.

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