Railroad Commission of Texas commissioners on Aug. 30 adopted the state’s first weatherization rule for natural gas facilities to protect gas flow to power generators and ensure the state has adequate electricity supplies during weather emergencies.
The new Weather Emergency Preparedness Standards rule (Statewide Rule 3.66) implements provisions in Senate Bill 3, which was passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by Governor Greg Abbott in 2021 following the Winter Storm Uri.
The new rule requires critical gas facilities on the state’s Electricity Supply Chain Map to weatherize, based on facility-specific factors, to ensure sustained operation during a weather emergency; correct known issues that caused weather-related forced stoppages occurred before Dec. 1, 2022; and contact the Commission if they sustain a weather-related forced stoppage during a weather emergency.
Types of critical facilities include natural gas wells and oil leases that contain natural gas wells, saltwater disposal wells, gas processing plants, all intrastate underground natural gas facilities, and gas pipelines that directly serve electricity generation on the electricity supply chain map.
The Railroad Commission’s Critical Infrastructure Division inspectors based in regional offices across the state will begin inspections December 1. Inspections will begin by prioritizing wells and other natural gas infrastructure that produce, store, process, or transport large volumes of natural gas. The Commission will further prioritize inspections in descending order in accordance with a facility’s production volume or storage, processing, or transportation capacity.
Fines for administrative violations could reach up to $1 million. The penalty structure in the rule places a stiff enforcement action for those who do not properly prepare their facilities for weather emergencies.
Statewide Rule 3.66 requires facilities representing a large portion of daily natural gas supply in Texas to be prepared to operate during weather emergencies.
The weatherization rule can be found on the RRC website at https://www.rrc.texas.gov/media/c5hdc4ga/rule-3-66.pdf.