|(a) Definitions. The following terms, when used in
this section, shall have the following meanings, unless the context
clearly indicates otherwise.
(1) Affected person--A person who, as a result of actions
proposed in an application for a storage facility permit or for amendment
or modification of an existing storage facility permit, has suffered
or may suffer actual injury or economic damage other than as a member
of the general public.
(2) Brine string--The uncemented tubing through which
highly saline water flows into or out of a hydrocarbon storage well
during hydrocarbon withdrawal or injection operations.
(3) Cavern--The storage space created in a salt formation
by solution mining.
(4) Commission--The Railroad Commission of Texas.
(5) Emergency shutdown valve--A valve that automatically
closes to isolate a hydrocarbon storage wellhead from surface piping
in the event of specified conditions that, if uncontrolled, may cause
(6) Fire detector--A device capable of detecting the
presence of a flame or the heat from a fire.
(7) Fresh water--Water having bacteriological, physical,
and chemical properties that make it suitable and feasible for beneficial
use for any lawful purpose. For purposes of this section, brine associated
with the creation, operation, and maintenance of an underground hydrocarbon
storage facility is not considered fresh water.
(8) Hydrocarbon storage well or storage well--A well,
including the storage wellhead, casing, tubing, borehole, and cavern,
used for the injection or withdrawal of liquid or liquefied hydrocarbons
into or out of an underground hydrocarbon storage facility.
(9) Leak detector--A device capable of detecting by
chemical or physical means the presence of hydrocarbon vapor or the
escape of vapor through a small opening.
(10) Liquid or liquefied hydrocarbons--Crude oil and
products, derivatives, or byproducts of oil or gas that are:
(A) liquid under standard conditions of temperature
(B) liquefied under the temperatures and pressures
at which they are stored; or
(C) stored under conditions that necessitate the use
of displacement fluids to withdraw them from storage.
(11) Operator--The person recognized by the Commission
as being responsible for the physical operation of an underground
hydrocarbon storage facility, or such person's authorized representative.
(12) Owner--The person recognized by the Commission
as owning all or part of a storage facility, or such person's authorized
(13) Person--A natural person, corporation, organization,
government, governmental subdivision or agency, business trust, estate,
trust, partnership, association, or any other legal entity.
(14) Pollution--Alteration of the physical, chemical,
or biological quality of, or the contamination of, water that makes
it harmful, detrimental, or injurious to humans, animal life, vegetation,
or property, or to public health, safety, or welfare, or impairs the
usefulness or the public enjoyment of the water for any lawful or
(15) Process or transfer area--Any area at an underground
hydrocarbon storage facility where hydrocarbons are physically altered
by equipment, including dehydrators, compressors, and pumps, or where
hydrocarbons are transferred to or from trucks, rail cars, or pipelines.
(16) Storage wellhead--Equipment installed at the surface
of the wellbore, including the casinghead and tubing head, spools,
block or wing valves, and instrument flanges. Spool pieces must have
a length of less than six feet to be considered a part of the storage
(17) Surface piping--Any pipe within a storage facility
that is directly connected to a storage well, outboard of the wellhead
emergency shutdown valve and used to transport product, brine, or
fresh water to or from a storage well whether such pipe is above or
below ground level.
(18) Underground hydrocarbon storage facility or storage
facility--A facility used for the storage of liquid or liquefied hydrocarbons
in an underground salt formation, including surface and subsurface
rights, appurtenances, and improvements necessary for the operation
of the facility.
(b) Permit required.
(1) General. No person may create, operate, or maintain
an underground hydrocarbon storage facility without obtaining a permit
from the Commission. A permit issued by the Commission for such activities
before the effective date of this section shall continue in effect
until revoked, modified, or suspended by the Commission, or until
it expires by its terms. The provisions of this section apply to permits
for underground hydrocarbon storage facility operations issued prior
to the effective date of this section, except as specifically provided
in this section.
(2) Conflict with other requirements. If a provision
of this section conflicts with any provision or term of a Commission
order, field rule, or permit, the provision of such order, field rule,
or permit shall control.
(1) Information required. An application for a permit
to create, operate, or maintain an underground hydrocarbon storage
facility shall be filed with the Commission by the owner or operator,
or proposed owner or operator, on the prescribed form. The application
shall contain the information necessary to demonstrate compliance
with the applicable state laws and Commission regulations.
(2) Permit amendment. An application for amendment
of an existing underground hydrocarbon storage facility permit shall
be filed with the Commission:
(A) prior to any planned enlargement of a cavern in
excess of the permitted cavern capacity by solution mining;
(B) when required in accordance with paragraph (3)
of this subsection;
(C) prior to the drilling of any additional hydrocarbon
(D) prior to any increase in the volume of liquid or
liquefied hydrocarbons stored in the cavern in excess of the permitted
storage volume; or
(E) any time that conditions at the storage facility
deviate materially from conditions specified in the permit or the
(3) Increase in capacity. The owner or operator of
a storage facility shall notify the Commission if information indicates
that the capacity of a cavern exceeds the permitted cavern capacity
by 20% or more. Such notification shall be made in writing to the
Commission within 10 days of the date that the owner or operator knows
or has reason to know that the cavern capacity exceeds the permitted
capacity by 20% or more. The notification shall include a description
of the information that indicates that the permitted cavern capacity
has been exceeded, and an estimate of the current cavern capacity.
Upon receipt of such information, the Commission or its designee may
take any one or more of the following actions:
(A) require the permittee to comply with a compliance
schedule that lists measures to be taken to ensure that conditions
at the storage facility do not pose a danger to life or property,
and that no waste of hydrocarbons, uncontrolled escape of hydrocarbons,
or pollution of fresh water occurs;
(B) require the permittee to file an application to
amend the underground hydrocarbon storage facility permit;
(C) modify, cancel, or suspend the permit as provided
in subsection (f) of this section; or
(D) take enforcement action.
(4) Related activities. An application for a permit
to store saltwater or brine in a pit or to dispose of saltwater or
other oil and gas waste arising out of or incidental to the creation,
operation, or maintenance of an underground hydrocarbon storage facility
shall be filed in accordance with applicable Commission requirements.
(d) Standards for underground storage zone.
(1) Geologic, construction, and operating performance.
An underground hydrocarbon storage facility may be created, operated,
or maintained only in an impermeable salt formation in a manner that
will prevent waste of the stored hydrocarbons, uncontrolled escape
of hydrocarbons, pollution of fresh water, and danger to life or property.
Natural gas storage operations are not authorized under the provisions
of this section. A permit under §3.97 of this title (relating
to Underground Storage of Gas in Salt Formations) is required to convert
from storage of liquid or liquefied hydrocarbons to storage of natural
gas in an underground salt formation.
(2) Fresh water strata. The applicant must submit with
the application a letter from the Groundwater Advisory Unit of the
Oil and Gas Division stating the depth to which fresh water strata
occur at each storage facility.
(e) Notice and hearing.
(1) Notice requirements. The applicant shall, no later
than the date the application is mailed to or filed with the Commission,
give notice of an application for a permit to create, operate, or
maintain an underground hydrocarbon storage facility, or to amend
an existing storage facility permit, by mailing or delivering a copy
of the application form to:
(A) the surface owner of the tract where the storage
facility is located or is proposed to be located;
(B) the surface owner of each tract adjoining the tract
where the storage facility is located or is proposed to be located;
(C) each oil, gas, or salt leaseholder, other than
the applicant, of the tract on which the storage facility is located
or is proposed to be located;
(D) each oil, gas, or salt leaseholder of any tract
adjoining the tract on which the storage facility is located or is
proposed to be located;
(E) the county clerk of the county where the storage
facility is located or is proposed to be located; and
(F) if the storage facility is located or proposed
to be located within city limits, the city clerk or other appropriate
(2) Publication of notice. Notice of the application,
in a form approved by the Commission or its designee, shall be published
by the applicant once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper
of general circulation in the county or counties where the facility
is or is proposed to be located. The applicant shall file proof of
publication prior to any hearing on the application or administrative
approval of the application.
(3) Notice by publication. The applicant shall make
diligent efforts to ascertain the name and address of each person
identified under paragraph (1)(A) - (D) of this subsection. The exercise
of diligent efforts to ascertain the names and addresses of such persons
shall require an examination of the county records where the facility
is located and an investigation of any other information of which
the applicant has actual knowledge. If, after diligent efforts, the
applicant has been unable to ascertain the name and address of one
or more persons required to be notified under paragraph (1)(A) - (D)
of this subsection, the notice requirements for those persons are
satisfied by the publication of the notice of application as required
in paragraph (2) of this subsection. The applicant must submit an
affidavit to the Commission specifying the efforts that were taken
to identify each person whose name and/or address could not be ascertained.
(4) Hearing required for new permits. A permit application
for a new underground hydrocarbon storage facility will be considered
for approval only after notice and hearing. The Commission will give
notice of the hearing to all affected persons, local governments,
and other persons who express, in writing, an interest in the application.
After hearing, the examiner shall recommend a final action by the
(5) Hearing on permit amendments.
(A) An application for an amendment to an existing
storage facility permit may be approved administratively if the Commission
receives no protest from a person notified pursuant to the provisions
of paragraph (1) of this subsection, or from any other affected person.
(B) If the Commission receives a protest from a person
notified pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection or from any
other affected person within 15 days of the date of receipt of the
application by the Commission, or of the date of the third publication,
whichever is later, or if the Commission determines that a hearing
is in the public interest, then the applicant will be notified that
the application cannot be approved administratively. The Commission
will schedule a hearing on the application upon written request of
the applicant. The Commission will give notice of the hearing to all
affected persons, local governments, and other persons who express,
in writing, an interest in the application. After hearing, the examiner
shall recommend a final action by the Commission.
(C) If the application is administratively denied,
a hearing will be scheduled upon written request of the applicant.
After hearing, the examiner shall recommend a final action by the
(f) Modification, cancellation, or suspension of a
(1) General. Any permit may be modified, suspended,
or canceled after notice and opportunity for hearing if: