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RULE §3.21Fire Prevention and Swabbing

(a) No hydrocarbon flow tank, unless entirely buried, shall hereafter be placed nearer than 150 feet from any derrick, rig, building, power plant, or boiler of any description. The director of the Oil and Gas Division or his delegate may administratively grant exceptions to this requirement. If the director of the Oil and Gas Division declines to administratively grant, continue, or extend an exception, the operator shall move the hydrocarbon flow tank to the required distance or request a hearing on the matter. After hearing, the examiner shall recommend final action to the commission.

(b) No field working hydrocarbon tank having a capacity of 10,000 barrels or more shall be built nearer than 200 feet (measured from shell to shell) to any other like tank.

(c) No person engaged in the production, transportation, storage, handling, refining, reclaiming, processing, treating, or marketing of crude petroleum oil or the products or by-products thereof shall store, either permanently or temporarily, crude petroleum oil or the products and by-products thereof in open pits or earthen storage.

(d) All oil tanks where there is a gas hazard shall be gas tight and provided with proper gas vents.

(e) No forge or open light shall be placed inside the derrick of a well showing oil or gas.

(f) Boilers must be equipped with steam lines for fighting fire and must not be set nearer than 150 feet to any producing well.

(g) All wells shall be cleaned into a pit not less than 40 feet from the derrick floor and 150 feet from any fire hazard.

(h) No boiler or electric lighting generator shall be placed or remain nearer than 150 feet to any producing well or oil tank.

(i) Any rubbish or debris that might constitute a fire hazard shall be removed to a distance of at least 150 feet from the vicinity of any well, tank, or pump station. All waste shall be burned or disposed of in such manner as to avoid creating a fire hazard.

(j) Dikes or fire walls shall not be required except such fire walls must be erected and kept around all permanent oil tanks, or battery of tanks, that are within the corporate limits of any city, town, or village; or where such tanks are closer than 500 feet to any highway or inhabited dwelling or closer than 1,000 feet to any school or church; or where such tanks are so located as to be deemed by the commission to be an objectionable hazard.

(k) Swabbing, bailing, or air jetting of wells is prohibited as a production method for wells unless the Commission has, after notice and hearing, granted an exception to this subsection. The Commission shall give notice of the hearing at least 10 days prior to the date of the hearing.

  (1) An operator seeking an exception to allow swabbing, bailing, or air jetting of a well shall:

    (A) provide the Commission with the names and mailing addresses of the mineral interest owners of record and surface owners of record of the lease on which a well for which an exception is sought is located;

    (B) present evidence at the hearing establishing:

      (i) the method of production proposed;

      (ii) that any production is properly accounted for pursuant to §3.26 of this title (relating to Separating Devices, Tanks, and Surface Commingling of Oil);

      (iii) that the proposed exception is necessary to prevent waste or protect correlative rights;

      (iv) that wellhead control is sufficient to prevent releases from the well;

      (v) that no pollution of usable quality water or safety hazard will result from either the proposed production method or the condition of the well; and

      (vi) that the operator possesses a continuing good faith claim to the right to operate the well.

  (2) In addition to the information set out in paragraph (1) of this subsection, factors that the Commission may consider in ruling on a request for an exception include:

    (A) whether the well has passed a mechanical integrity test within the preceding 12 months;

    (B) the estimated monthly and cumulative production from the well if the requested exception is granted;

    (C) whether production will be into an on-lease tank battery or a mobile tank;

    (D) the adequacy of the financial assurance provided by the operator to assure that the well will be timely and properly plugged;

    (E) whether production volume, fine sands in the reservoir, or other factors render pumping of the well impracticable;

    (F) whether the reservoir from which the well produces contains hydrogen sulfide; and

    (G) the operator's history of compliance with Commission rules.

  (3) This section does not prohibit swabbing as a non-recurring method to start initial production, to test or clean out a well, or to restore a well to flowing or pumping status.

(l) Operation and maintenance of electrical power lines. An operator must construct, operate, and maintain an electrical power line serving a well site or other surface facility employed in operations incident to oil and gas development and production in accordance with the National Electrical Code published by the National Fire Protection Association and adopted by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in §73.100 of this title (relating to Technical Requirements).

Source Note: The provisions of this §3.21 adopted to be effective January 1, 1976, amended to be effective October 3, 1980, 5 TexReg 3794; amended to be effective October 2, 2002, 27 TexReg 9149; amended to be effective September 13, 2010, 35 TexReg 8332

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