Texas oil regulator works to secure natural gas supply for potential weather emergencies

9/14/2021

AUSTIN –Railroad Commission of Texas commissioners approved publishing for public comment proposed rules for critical designation of natural gas infrastructure during energy emergencies.

The proposed rules specify the criteria and process for entities associated with providing natural gas to be designated as critical customers or critical gas suppliers during an energy emergency.

The rules implement House Bill (HB) 3648 and several provisions of Senate Bill (SB) 3, which lawmakers passed in response to February’s Winter Storm Uri.

Examples of critical infrastructure include, but are not limited to, gas wells, gas processing plants, natural gas storage facilities, and pipelines and pipeline facilities.

Today’s action is another step in an extensive process RRC staff has engaged in to fortify the state’s energy supply chain and assist residents during future energy emergencies.

“The draft rules are part of multiple collaborations our agency began during the legislative session,” said Wei Wang, RRC Executive Director. “We have been working diligently with the Public Utility Commission during the summer to ensure both our agencies’ rules on critical infrastructure go hand-in-hand.” 

Under the proposed rules operators will be required to submit forms to the RRC acknowledging critical status or seek exception as provided by legislation. Operators will also be providing information on their critical facilities directly to their respective electricity providers.

The forms are being drafted and will be voted on in an upcoming RRC Commissioners Conference. 

To view the proposed rules and submit comments online by Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, visit the RRC website at https://rrc.texas.gov/general-counsel/rules/proposed-rules/ under “Chapter 3: Oil and Gas.”

The RRC will have a public workshop on the draft rules on Oct. 5. Details on that workshop will be provided soon. The rules will be adopted by Dec. 1, 2021.

The RRC is also continuing work to implement other provisions of SB 3, including collaborating with the Public Utility Commission on mapping critical infrastructure along the state’s electricity supply chain, as well as rules for operators to prepare facilities for weather emergencies.

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