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RULE §3.9Disposal Wells

        (IV) any other person or persons that the commission or its delegate determine should receive notice of the application.

    (E) If a protest to an application for an areal variance is made to the commission by an affected person, local government, underground water conservation district, or other state agency within 15 days of receipt of the application or of publication, whichever is later, or if the commission's delegate determines that a hearing on the application is in the public interest, then a hearing will be held on the application after the commission provides notice of the hearing to all local governments, underground water conservation districts, state agencies, or other persons, who express an interest, in writing, in the application. If no protest from an affected person is received by the commission, the commission's delegate may administratively approve the application. If the application is denied administratively, the person(s) filing the application shall have a right to hearing upon request. After hearing, the examiner shall recommend a final action by the commission.

    (F) An areal variance granted under the provisions of this paragraph may be modified, terminated, or suspended by the commission after notice and opportunity for hearing is provided to each person shown on commission records to operate an oil or gas lease in the area in which the proposed modification, termination, or suspension would apply. If a hearing on a proposal to modify, terminate, or suspend an areal variance is held, any applications filed subsequent to the date notice of hearing is given must include the area-of-review information required under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph pending issuance of a final order.

  (8) Casing. Disposal wells shall be cased and the casing cemented in compliance with §3.13 of this title (relating to Casing, Cementing, Drilling, and Completion Requirements) in such a manner that the injected fluids will not endanger oil, gas, geothermal resources, or freshwater resources.

  (9) Special equipment.

    (A) Tubing and packer. Wells drilled or converted for disposal shall be equipped with tubing set on a mechanical packer. Packers shall be set no higher than 100 feet above the top of the permitted interval. For purposes of this section, the term "tubing" refers to a string of pipe through which injection may occur and which is neither wholly nor partially cemented in place. A string of pipe that is wholly or partially cemented in place is considered casing for purposes of this section.

    (B) Pressure valve. The wellhead shall be equipped with a pressure observation valve on the tubing and for each annulus of the well.

    (C) Exceptions. The director may grant an exception to any provision of this paragraph upon proof of good cause. If the director denies an exception, the operator shall have a right to a hearing upon request. After hearing, the examiner shall recommend a final action by the commission.

  (10) Well record. Within 30 days after the completion or conversion of a disposal well, the operator shall file in duplicate in the district office a complete record of the well on the appropriate form which shows the current completion.

  (11) Monitoring and reporting.

    (A) The operator shall monitor the injection pressure and injection rate of each disposal well on at least a monthly basis, or on a more frequent basis as required by the commission under conditions described in paragraph (3)(C) of this section.

    (B) The results of the monitoring shall be reported annually to the commission on the prescribed form, or on a more frequent basis as required by the commission under conditions described in paragraph (3)(C) of this section.

    (C) All monitoring records shall be retained by the operator for at least five years.

    (D) The operator shall report to the appropriate District Office within 24 hours any significant pressure changes or other monitoring data indicating the presence of leaks in the well.

  (12) Testing.

    (A) Purpose. The mechanical integrity of a disposal well shall be evaluated by conducting pressure tests to determine whether the well tubing, packer, or casing have sufficient mechanical integrity to meet the performance standards of this rule, or by alternative testing methods under subparagraph (E) of this paragraph.

    (B) Applicability. Mechanical integrity of each disposal well shall be demonstrated in accordance with provisions of subparagraph (D) and subparagraph (E) of this paragraph prior to initial use. In addition, mechanical integrity shall be tested periodically thereafter as described in subparagraph (C) of this paragraph.

    (C) Frequency.

      (i) Each disposal well completed with surface casing set and cemented through the entire interval of protected usable-quality water shall be tested for mechanical integrity at least once every five years.

      (ii) In addition to testing required under clause (i), each disposal well shall be tested for mechanical integrity after every workover of the well.

      (iii) A disposal well that is completed without surface casing set and cemented through the entire interval of protected usable-quality ground water shall be tested at the frequency prescribed in the disposal well permit.

      (iv) The commission or its delegate may prescribe a schedule and mail notification to operators to allow for orderly and timely compliance with the requirements in clauses (i) and (ii) of this subparagraph. Such testing schedule shall not apply to a disposal well for which a disposal well permit has been issued but the well has not been drilled or converted to disposal.

    (D) Pressure tests.

      (i) Test pressure.

        (I) The test pressure for wells equipped to dispose through tubing and packer shall equal the maximum authorized injection pressure or 500 psig, whichever is less, but shall be at least 200 psig.

        (II) The test pressure for wells that are permitted for disposal through casing shall equal the maximum permitted injection pressure or 200 psig, whichever is greater.

      (ii) Pressure stabilization. The test pressure shall stabilize within 10% of the test pressure required in clause (i) of this subparagraph prior to commencement of the test.

      (iii) Pressure differential. A pressure differential of at least 200 psig shall be maintained between the test pressure on the tubing-casing annulus and the tubing pressure.

      (iv) Test duration. A pressure test shall be conducted for a duration of 30 minutes when the test medium is liquid or for 60 minutes when the test medium is air or gas.

      (v) Pressure recorder. Except for tests witnessed by a commission representative or wells permitted for disposal through casing, a pressure recorder shall be used to monitor and record the tubing-casing annulus pressure during the test. The recorder clock shall not exceed 24 hours. The recorder scale shall be set so that the test pressure is 30 to 70% of full scale, unless otherwise authorized by the commission or its delegate.

      (vi) Test fluid.

        (I) The tubing-casing annulus fluid used in a pressure test shall be liquid for wells that inject liquid unless the commission or its delegate authorizes the use of a different test fluid for good cause.

        (II) The tubing-casing annulus fluid used in a pressure test shall contain no additives that may affect the sensitivity or otherwise reduce the effectiveness of the test.

      (vii) Pressure test results. The commission or its delegate will consider, in evaluating the results of a test, the level of pollution risk that loss of well integrity would cause. Factors that may be taken into account in assessing pollution risk include injection pressure, frequency of testing and monitoring, and whether there is sufficient surface casing to cover all zones containing usable-quality water. A pressure test may be rejected by the commission or its delegate after consideration of the following factors:

        (I) the degree of pressure change during the test, if any;

        (II) the level of risk to usable-quality water if mechanical integrity of the well is lost; and

        (III) whether circumstances surrounding the administration of the test make the test inconclusive.

    (E) Alternative testing methods.

      (i) As an alternative to the testing required in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph, the tubing-casing annulus pressure may be monitored and included on the annual monitoring report required by paragraph (11) of this section, with the authorization of the commission or its delegate and provided that there is no indication of problems with the well. Wells that are approved for tubing-casing annulus monitoring under this paragraph shall be tested in the manner provided under subparagraph (B) of this paragraph at least once every ten years after January 1, 1990.

      (ii) The commission or its delegate may grant an exception for viable alternative tests or surveys or may require alternative tests or surveys as a permit condition.

    (F) The operator shall notify the appropriate district office at least 48 hours prior to the testing. Testing shall not commence before the end of the 48-hour period unless authorized by the district office.

    (G) A complete record of all tests shall be filed in duplicate in the district office on the appropriate form within 30 days after the testing.

    (H) In the case of permits issued under this section prior to the effective date of this amendment which require pressure testing more frequently than once every five years, the commission's delegate may, by letter of authorization, reduce the required frequency of pressure tests, provided that such tests are required at least once every three years. The commission shall consider the permit to have been amended to require pressure tests at the frequency specified in the letter of authorization.

  (13) Plugging. Disposal wells shall be plugged upon abandonment in accordance with §3.14 of this title (relating to Plugging).

  (14) Penalties.

    (A) Violations of this section may subject the operator to penalties and remedies specified in the Texas Water Code, Chapter 27, and the Natural Resources Code, Title 3.

    (B) The certificate of compliance for any oil, gas, or geothermal resource well may be revoked in the manner provided in §3.73 of this title (relating to Pipeline Connection; Cancellation of Certification of Compliance; Severance) for violation of this section.

Source Note: The provisions of this §3.9 adopted to be effective January 1, 1976; amended to be effective February 23, 1979, 4 TexReg 436; amended to be effective April 1, 1982, 7 TexReg 651; amended to be effective December 4, 1996, 21 TexReg 11361; amended to be effective August 4, 1998, 23 TexReg 7768; amended to be effective December 28, 1999, 24 TexReg 11711; amended to be effective November 24, 2004, 29 TexReg 10728; amended to be effective July 2, 2012, 37 TexReg 4892; amended to be effective November 17, 2014, 39 TexReg 8988

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