Railway Commission finalizes monitoring and enforcement plans



As a new fiscal year approaches, the Railway Commission is finalizing and monitoring an implementation plan for fiscal year 2022.

The plan outlines the agency’s strategic priorities in overseeing the state’s oil and gas industry and protecting public safety and the environment.

“Over the next fiscal year, the agency will continue its ongoing work to modernize the technological infrastructure, and inspectors will use improved technological tools in their field work as modernization projects are completed. The most critical mission of the Railway Commission is the protection of public safety and the environment, ”Andrew Keese, spokesperson for the agency, told Reporter-Telegram via email.

Among the agency’s plans is modernizing and upgrading its IT systems from a legacy mainframe to cloud-based software that uses tools to improve reporting and efficiency. For systems that have already been developed, the agency is refining and expanding its capabilities. For example, inspectors use a system called Inspection Compliance and Enforcement (ICE). Additional information will be added for certain types of inspections, such as well plugging and mechanical integrity testing. In addition, an H2S indicator and GPS location will be integrated, alerting inspectors to potential dangers.

“The technological improvements mentioned in the plan will enhance an already strong inspection system by transforming the data currently captured in narrative form into data elements that can be analyzed, which would further improve the monitoring of oil and gas wells and facilities and enforcing RRC rules and regulations, ”Keese wrote.

The plan affirms the agency’s commitment to inspect every oil and gas facility at least once every five years. It provides an overview of sanctions and procedures as well as a current overview of the various infractions and the agency’s progress.

“The inspections that are done every five years are standard compliance checks. The RRC is also inspecting oil and gas facilities more frequently as part of complaint investigations and pollution prevention efforts, ”Keese noted.

The commission reported that in April of this year, four months ahead of schedule, it exceeded its legislative performance target for fiscal year 2021 for the number of inspections of oil and gas wells and facilities completed. . As of mid-June, 236,466 such inspections had been carried out. The commission also exceeded the five-year well inspection frequency target for the fiscal year. He did so in January, seven months before the end of the fiscal year.

Another objective is to improve the training of personnel in the oil and gas sector. In 2019, the agency implemented a very successful program for inspectors with less than two years of service. During COVID-19, the training had to move to a virtual format. The lessons learned from the change provide the opportunity for expanded professional development for other staff in the oil and gas industry, including Austin-based administrative and technical staff.

As the agency will continue to leverage the virtual space to provide expanded educational opportunities for its regulated community, it intends to provide in-person training in fiscal 2022, including its annual regulatory conference. in Austin, state regulatory forums and industry presentations. events.

During the 30-day public comment period, the Texas Oil and Gas Association provided comments in line with the strategic priorities, Keese reported.


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