Regulatory Update: Saltwater Disposal Wells and Increased Seismicity

Historically, Texas has not been known for any meaningful seismic activity.  However, minor earthquakes have dramatically increased in recent years, particularly in the Permian Basin.  In 2021 alone, west Texas experienced roughly 2,000 earthquakes, which was almost double the amount recorded in 2020.  While many of these earthquakes have not caused any significant damage, there...
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Carbon Sequestration in Texas

The first major offshore Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) project is set to take place on Texas’ Gulf Coast. Carbon Sequestration is the process of injecting Carbon Dioxide (CO2) into geologic formations and trapping it in the pore space. Talos Energy Inc., a prominent offshore energy company in the Gulf of Mexico and Carbonvert, Inc.,...
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Federal Regulatory Update: Methane Rules

In 2012 and 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration promulgated historic new rules aimed at reducing methane emissions resulting from oil and gas operations. Larger operators were prepared for the new regulations, having already implemented practices to capture and sell methane; the impact was largely felt by the mid-sized and smaller operators...
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Caselaw Update: Concho Resources, Inc. v. Ellison

On April 16, 2021, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision in Concho Resources, Inc., v. Ellison, redefining ratification in the context of boundary stipulation agreements. The court previously defined ratification as “the adoption or confirmation by a person with knowledge of all material facts of a prior act which did not then legally bind him and which he had the right to repudiate.” At issue in...
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Frac Hits: Horizontal and Vertical Well Interference

Horizontal wells have become an increasingly popular method of recovery in recent years, and with this uptick comes the increased potential for interference with existing vertical wells. Known as “frac hits,” collisions range from physical intrusion of fractures or fluids to drastic changes in pressure, either of which can result in serious damage or even complete destruction of a vertical well. (1) Frac hits are an increasingly common...
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Protecting the Nation’s Energy Infrastructure: Cybersecurity

On May 7, 2021, Colonial Pipeline Company (“Colonial”) experienced a cybersecurity breach that led to the shut-down of its entire gasoline pipeline network for the first time in Colonial’s 57-year history. A Russian-linked cybercrime group known as DarkSide is thought to be the culprit behind the attack. Darkside allegedly accessed sensitive data on Colonial’s network using old employee login information purchased on the dark web, and then held this data for ransom until Colonial paid $4.4...
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RRC Proposed Rule to Address Critical Gas Supply After Winter Storm Uri

In response to the statewide power outages during Winter Storm Uri earlier this year, which left millions of Texans without power and heat during a record freeze, the Texas Legislature passed SB 3 and HB 3648 to address the failure of the state’s natural gas supply to the power grid. The laws direct the Texas Railroad Commission (“RRC”) and the Public Utility Commission of Texas (“PUC”)...
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