Your Texas legislators have done their work and the citizens are safe for the next two years. The other good news is that industry supporters generally believe the 2015 Legislature was their friend.
House Bill 2: Set aside $4,471,800 to the University of Texas at Austin Bureau for Economic Geology and appointed a technical advisory committee to study the effects of hydraulic fracturing and disposal wells on earthquakes. The Bill authorized seismic equipment, maintenance of seismic networks, and modeling of reservoir behavior in the vicinity of faults. The committee will have nine members appointed by the governor. Two members will represent higher education institutions and have seismic or reservoir modeling experience, two will be experts in the oil and gas industry, and at least one must be a RRC seismologist. The committee will advise the governor and the House Committee on Energy Resources.
House Bill 40: Preempts local jurisdiction over subsurface operations. This is the legislative response to the ogre that was Denton’s anti-fracking ordinance.
House Bill 1331: Once an operator has transferred drill cuttings to a third party for subsequent beneficial use, such as recycling, the operator can no longer be held liable in tort for consequences of the subsequent use.
Senate Bill 1589: Requires holders of unclaimed mineral proceeds to include more information when reporting to the Comptroller, such as lease, property and well names, and identification numbers used to identify the lease, property or well.
House Bill 2207: An existing oil and gas lease will remain in effect upon the foreclosure of a security interest if the lease was executed and recorded before the foreclosure sale. If the leased property is sold in a foreclosure sale, the rights granted to the lessee to use the surface will be terminated. Royalty payments which become due after the foreclosure sale will pass to the purchaser of the foreclosed property. A subordination agreement would control conflicting provisions of the law.
House Bill 30: Requires regional water planning groups to include opportunities for benefits of developing large scale desalinization facilities. The point is to establish brackish groundwater production zones that would not affect industry’s use of brackish water. The Texas Water Development Board is to study the use of brackish groundwater. As passed the Bill does not create a scheme for the use of brackish groundwater.
The Ones That Got Away (or Euthanized, If You See It That Way)
House Bill 1552: The allocation well Bill. An operator would have been allowed with a RRC permit to drill, operate and produce from wells that traverse multiple tracts. The Bill would have removed doubts about the legality of allocation wells. Royalty and mineral owners defeated this one.
House Bill 3291: Would have established as a second degree felony the possession transporting, removing or purchasing oil and gas or condensate without a RRC permit. Passed in a version that was far different from the original, then vetoed by the governor. I’m told the reason was because it would have criminalized what has otherwise been a RRC permitting violation. Thieves and some DA’s were pleased, operators were not.
House Bill 1392: The fieldwide unitization effort that has failed in every session since Davy Crockett realized there wasn’t a back door to the Alamo. This year it was known by the catchy “Cenozoic Era Unitization”. Some have been in favor, some not.
To see the text and history of the Bills, go to www.capitol.state.tx.us/. Under Search Legislation type in bill number (“SB … or HB …), and search. If it passed, see the “engrossed” version.
Our legislative interludes:
To the supporters of HB 40
To legislators everywhere who can’t get a bill passed
To legislators everywhere who prevent their colleagues from passing a bill