News from ShaleTech 2012: Texas Railroad Commissioner takes strong stand on federal regulation
KURT S. ABRAHAM, World Oil staff
Texas Railroad Commissioner David Porter did not mince words today in expressing his distaste for the Obama administration’s mishandling of oil and gas affairs. Speaking at the second and final day of the ShaleTech conference and exhibition, hosted by World Oil and its parent, Gulf Publishing Co., Porter said that “We must keep regulation of Texas’ natural resources in Texas, by Texans who appreciate the importance of the oil and gas industry, so that the regulatory climate remains fair, steady and predictable.” He told the Houston audience that “The regulation of oil and gas activities must be kept under state control, by the various states with these resources, the way that it’s been done for many years.”
Porter went further in asserting states’ rights vs. the federal government. “We must not let the federal government become the leading regulator of the oil and gas industry,” he said. “If the federal government becomes the leading regulator, it will cripple the industry, and it will demolish the economy. We must not let that happen.”
The commissioner said that the federal government, under the Obama administration, would have many groups with agendas in the U.S. that would be happy to assist in dismantling the industry. “Let’s face it,” explained Porter, “there are a lot of folks out there that want to ‘de-legitimize’ the industry. I’m talking about people like the national media, environmentalists and liberal politicians. But I don’t care what they think about windmills and solar power—there isn’t going to be enough of it to power America without oil and gas. That’s why we must have a fully-funded, strong Railroad Commission in Texas, to do this regulation, and not the federal government.”
On operational matters, Porter noted that the huge uptick in Eagle Ford shale activity is having a significant impact on Texas’ oil output. “In the Eagle Ford, oil production in May 2012 was triple what it was just a year ago, in May 2011,” said the commissioner. “Production is rapidly outpacing infrastructure, particularly pipeline capacity.” He noted that operators have had to resort increasingly to flaring of natural gas associated with oil production. This, in turn, has prompted the commission to review its Rule 32 and see if it needs to be amended with respect to flaring and venting of natural gas, in conjunction with increased Eagle Ford shale activity. Commissioners are also studying a pilot program to use gas as a source of power for on-lease operations in lieu of flaring.
Porter was complimentary of industry efforts to reduce water usage, particularly as relates to fracing operations. “It is now more important than ever, that we find ways to conserve water,” said Porter. “Despite fracing operations, the industry only represents a small fraction of total water usage in Texas. In 2010, it was less than 2%. I do want to commend the industry on the steps that it is taking to reduce water usage. I believe that their water usage has gone from 15 acre-feet per well last year, to 11 acre-feet per well this year.”