Texas Railroad Commission Revamps Application for Flaring Exemptions
Commissioners approved a revamped form that will be used by oil and gas operators to apply for an exception to flare gas during oil and gas operations. The form provides specific guidance on when an exception to flare would be permissible, under which circumstances, and for how long.
On 4 November, the Railroad Commission of Texas changed how oil and gas operators apply for exemptions from the state’s rules on flaring.
The agency’s approved a revamped Form R-32, Application for Exception to Statewide Rule 32, which had previously been titled Statewide Rule 32 Exception Data Sheet and will be used by oil and gas operators to apply for an exception to flare gas during oil and gas operations. The form provides specific guidance on when an exception to flare would be permissible, under which circumstances, and for how long.
The commissioners’ action made changes to the application for flaring exceptions, not to the state’s flaring rule, Statewide Rule 32. On 4 August, commissioners voted to publish a proposed version of the application for public comment. Commission staff received and considered 26 sets of comments from individuals, operating companies, industry associations, trade groups, and nongovernmental organizations.
“Texans demand transparency and innovation from all levels of government,” said Commissioner Ryan Sitton, “and this form will help collect more accurate data as we assess the role of flaring and look for ways to reduce it going forward.”
Based on the public comments received, changes were made to how information was organized on the proposed form and improved instructions, while maintaining key data that the commission will receive from oil and gas operators as proposed in August. Form R-32 will
- In many cases, reduce the period of time an operator may obtain an administrative exception to flare gas; for certain exceptions, the duration may be reduced by 50% to 80%
- Provide incentives for operators to use technologies to reduce the amount of gas flared
- Require operators to submit more specific information to justify the need to flare or vent gas in accordance with commission rules
- Provide additional key data points to facilitate compliance audits with reported production
“Texas has done a tremendous job reducing flaring this year, flaring less than a half a percent of gas produced in May 2020,” Commissioner Wayne Christian said. “This form change is a big and important step toward minimizing routine flaring in Texas, allowing our agency to collect the information it needs to better determine who is following the rules when it comes to flaring and who is not.”
Form R-32 will be part of the commission’s development of a Rule 32 computer program, which will facilitate the online submission of flaring requests and provide the agency with a better mechanism for compliance audits and data analytics.
Until the Rule 32 program is online, which is targeted for the spring, operators will be able to use either the current application for exceptions to flaring or the new Form R-32.