Celebrating 10 years covering energy and politics in The Lone Star State. 


“Last spring while I was honored to visit Israel, I visited with US Ambassador David Friedman. During our discussion he told me that an uptick in oil and gas production in Texas — and I asked him, does that make any difference in your negotiations here in the Mideast? And he said, ‘Mr. commissioner, all the difference in the world.’  He said in fact ‘I have conference calls monthly, and around the world the discovery of oil in Texas has provided this national security that we’ve never enjoyed in over 70 years.’

“Unfortunately this opportunity could be blown if we allow for the implementation of dangerous policies like the New Green Deal, a carbon tax or even returning to the Paris Accord. This level of regulation would only be harmful not only to Texas businesses but would increase the cost of energy drastically for the American consumer with little to no benefit to the environment.”

— Railroad Commission of Texas commissioner Wayne Christian speaking to the Texas House Energy Resources Committee February 12, 2019

The TER Buzz:

Venezuela’s financial troubles impact Texas and U.S.

By Alex Mills


February 14, 2019


The political turmoil in Venezuela has huge implications internationally, especially for Texas and the United States.

Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), the nationally owned energy company, currently owns three refineries in the U.S. – located in Corpus Christi, Lake Charles, La. and Lemont, Ill. – that refine 749,000 barrels of oil per day under the corporate umbrella of Citgo. PDVSA produces a little over 1 million barrels of oil per day in Venezuela and about half is shipped and refined in the U.S.

The refined products – gasoline, diesel, and lubricants – are sold in many different markets around the world, including to some 5,300 independently owned service stations under the Citgo brand throughout the U.S. The service stations are not under the Citgo Petroleum Corporation.

Citgo this week placed advertising in some national newspapers stressing that the gas stations are independently owned and operated, and the people working at these facilities have been a “valuable part of the American story for more than 100 years.”…

TXOGA Joins TAM In Support of Tax Code Chapter 312 Renewal

February 14, 2019


TXOGA is firmly behind the renewal of a state tax plan that goes before the state legislature this session, echoing commitments from the Texas Association of Manufacturers earlier this week.

In statements on Wednesday, Texas Oil and Gas Association President Todd Staples outlined the organization’s public policy priorities for the session, including the renewal of Chapter 312 of the Texas Tax Code, allowing counties and cities to offer temporary tax exemptions to attract new capital investment projects and all the quality jobs that accompany them.

On Tuesday, Texas Association of Manufacturers (TAM) President and CEO Tony Bennett also called for Chapter 312 renewal, adding, “Texas has the fourth highest industrial property taxes of any state – 65% higher than the national average…

RRC Looks At Orphaned Wells, Permit Drop, Increasing Costs At Budget Season

Is the “fee-based” Railroad Commission getting all the money paid by the oil and gas industry? No

The initial budget drops RRC funding by 1%

RRC, like the industry itself, is understaffed, House commissioners told

For budget projections of crude prices, is the state budget board using WTI or NYMEX?


February 13, 2019


The number of permits being issued by the Texas’ oil and gas regulatory agency is down over the past couple of months, even as it suffers increasing costs, an increasing number of orphan wells to be plugged and a shortage of full time employees, members of the Texas Legislature were told Tuesday.

The House Energy Resources Committee heard from the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) at a scheduled meeting to hear the agency’s budget, which in its initial form will be reduced by 1% over the next two years.

The RRC, in this preliminary budget (HB 1), will get $253.4 million, a $2.6 million decrease from the 85th legislature’s 2018-19 appropriation, with $21.2 million general revenue money and almost $175 million in general revenue money dedicated to the oil and gas regulation cleanup account, according to Thomas Brown at the Texas State Legislative Budget Board.

Added are $43 million in other funds and a cap on full time employees at 827, Brown told the committee.


Abandoned Well Plugging Increasing


About $39 million is allotted for well plugging activities, which have been increasing over the past few years; Commissioner Ryan Sitton said the number of orphaned wells is increasing, with currently about 6,500 known abandoned oil and gas wells….

Texas Oil and Natural Gas Industry Paid More than $14 Billion in Taxes and Royalties in 2018, Up 27% from 2017

Staples: As TXOGA Turns 100, Taxes and Royalties from Oil and Natural Gas Hit $133 Billion – Just Since 2007


February 13, 2019

AUSTIN – According to just-released data from the Texas Oil & Gas Association (TXOGA), the Texas oil and natural gas industry paid more than $14 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties in fiscal year 2018, up 27 percent from fiscal year 2017 and the second-highest total in Texas history. TXOGA President Todd Staples hosted a media briefing this morning to share the data as well as the Association’s priorities for the 86th Legislature.


In noting that 2019 is TXOGA’s Centennial Year, Staples said, “As we celebrate 100 years of oil and natural gas, we are proud to report that the Texas oil and natural gas industry has paid $133 billion in state and local taxes and state royalties, just since 2007.”

“Last year alone, the Texas oil and natural gas industry paid the equivalent of $38 million a day to fund our schools, roads, universities and first responders,” said Todd Staples, president of TXOGA. “More tax and royalty revenue from the oil and natural gas industry means our lawmakers have more to work with to meet the needs of our growing state.”


In fiscal year 2018, Texas school districts received $1.24 billion in property taxes from mineral properties producing oil and natural gas, pipelines, and gas utilities. Counties received $366.5 million in oil and natural gas mineral property taxes. Property tax totals for each county and ISD are available at txoga.org.


“In addition to taxes and royalties, Texas oil and natural gas companies are investing billions in advanced technologies that are protecting and improving our environment – proof that we can grow our economy, protect the environment and enhance our energy security at the same time,” Staples said. U.S. CO2 emissions are near 20-year lows and methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems are down 14 percent since 1990 – all while production has skyrocketed.


State royalties paid by the oil and natural gas industry in fiscal year 2018 increased 18 percent to a total of $2 billion. That money is used to capitalize the Permanent School Fund (PSF), which benefits the public schools of Texas, and the Permanent University Fund (PUF), which benefits public higher education in Texas. Oil and natural gas royalties constitute the only substantive new money deposited annually to the PSF and PUF, according to Staples.


“What’s remarkable to me is that the Texas Permanent School Fund, seldom recognized outside of Texas, leads the pack among ALL educational endowments in the country,” he said. “With a balance of $41.4 billion at the end of fiscal year 2017, the PSF is the largest educational endowment in the nation – bigger than Harvard University’s endowment worth $39.2 billion.”


Finally, Staples described TXOGA’s public policy priorities for the 86th Legislature, which include support for adequate funding for the Railroad Commission of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to be properly staffed and equipped, funding for the Texas Department of Public Safety that will enhance public safety on congested roadways in energy-producing areas, reauthorization of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP), renewal of Chapter 312, which allows counties and cities to provide temporary property tax reductions for new projects, and additional funding to assist counties in energy sectors that are experiencing increased traffic and road deterioration.


“We recognize that our state’s impressive energy achievements have sparked rapid population growth and created the need for additional funding for county roads,” said Staples. “Considering energy production is providing vast amounts of revenue for state and local governments, specifically the Rainy Day Fund, we think it appropriate to use a portion of funds already collected for repairs and expansions on county roads in our state’s energy sectors.”




RRC Launches New Feature on Public GIS Map Viewer

New Radius Tool Makes Well Info in Defined Area Faster to Access


February 12, 2019


The Railroad Commission of TexasPublic Geographic Information System (GIS) Map Viewer can now display data for multiple wells in a defined radius area set by a user.


Surface and downhole data on multiple wells can now be easily downloaded and opened with software such as Microsoft Excel. This feature allows anyone to quickly research information for multiple wells in a specifically designated area, rather than one well at a time.


“Thanks to support from the Texas Legislature, the Commission is able to improve on one of our most popular online queries – the Public GIS Map Viewer,” Executive Director Wei Wang said. “Features like this help to further enhance transparency about the Commission’s regulation of the Texas energy industry.”


More information on using this new feature can be found under “Radius Tool and Download Wells” on pages 18-21 of the Public GIS Viewer User Guide.”
The user guide is available on Public GIS Viewer webpage: https://rrc.texas.gov/about-us/resource-center/research/gis-viewers/


Questions on using the new feature may be directed to the RRC’s Well Mapping Section at 512-463-6851 or RRC.Mapping@RRC.texas.gov .


Meridian Plans Refinery In the Permian Basin To Be Among “Cleanest On the Planet”

If you can’t get the crude to refineries, bring refineries to the crude; “Analysis indicates that there may be a need for more than one such facility in order to fully serve the needs of the Permian Basin”


Davis Refinery Under Construction


February 11, 2019


A new refinery for West Texas is planned by petroleum processor Meridian Energy Group.

The Irvine, California company said on Monday that “new” is the operative term, with plans for an advanced technology, environmentally-friendly petroleum processing project in Winkler County….

TIPRO Releases “State of Energy Report” — News Release

Texas Leads the Nation in Oil & Natural Gas Production, Employment Growth

Texas oil & gas production is now greater than a previous 1970s record

Texas oil & gas industry paid about $100 billion in total state taxes and state royalty payments during past nine years

Texas oil & gas jobs pay 134% more than average private sector jobs in state

US oil & gas industry payroll nearing $100 billion, 881,000 professionals employed

February 11, 2019


Austin, Texas – The Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) today released the fourth edition of its “State of Energy Report,” offering a detailed analysis of national and state trends in oil and natural gas employment, wages and other key economic factors for 2018. TIPRO’s “State of Energy Report” series was developed to further quantify and track the economic impact of domestic oil and natural gas production at the state and national level.


According to the association’s new report, the U.S. oil and gas industry employed 880,681 professionals in 2018, an increase of 45,354 jobs compared to 2017. The industry paid a national annual wage averaging $112,712 last year, more than double average private sector wages. Payroll in the U.S. oil and gas industry totaled $99 billion in 2018, an increase of 6 percent from the previous year. Additionally, total U.S. goods and services purchased in 2018 by the oil and gas industry exceeded $530 billion.


In 2018, Texas led the country in oil and gas industry employment with a total of 352,371 jobs, an increase of 26,706 jobs from 2017 numbers. Texas experienced the largest increase in industry jobs in 2018, followed by Oklahoma (5,266), New Mexico (3,626), North Dakota (2,808), and Colorado (2,282) rounding out the top five states for employment growth. Texas oil and gas employment represented 40 percent of all oil and gas jobs nationwide last year.


According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. became the largest global crude oil producer in 2018, officially surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia. Independent producers, who collectively drill up to 95 percent of the oil and natural gas wells in America, led the industry in this growth. The rollback of unnecessary and overly burdensome regulations at the federal level and the pro-business environment in Texas directly contributed to a surge in oil and gas production and energy jobs.


Oil production in Texas totaled a record 1.54 billion barrels (bbl) in 2018, surpassing a previous record of 1.28 billion bbl set in 1973. The second largest producer of oil in 2018 was North Dakota (443 million bbl), followed by New Mexico (226 million bbl), Oklahoma (187 million bbl), and Alaska (175 million bbl).


Total natural gas production in Texas was 8.8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) in 2018, compared to 8 Tcf produced in the previous year. The second largest producer of natural gas last year was Pennsylvania (6.1 Tcf), followed by Alaska (3.2 Tcf), Louisiana (2.7 Tcf) and Oklahoma (2.3 Tcf).


“As the national leader in oil and natural gas production, Texas is paving the way for America’s energy independence,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “From technological advancements resulting in increased oil and natural gas output to our LNG export facilities, the Lone Star State’s energy economy is firing on all cylinders. As Governor, I will continue to work with our independent oil and gas producers to take our economy to even greater heights.”


The oil and gas independent producers drive the energy economy directly benefiting Texas and its residents. Between 2010 – 2018, total state taxes and state royalty payments paid by the oil and gas industry in Texas exceeded $100 billion. These funds have continued to support all aspects of the state economy, including schools and education, infrastructure investment, water conservation programs and first responders, to name a few. Additionally, Texas is home to approximately 2.5 million mineral owners, of the 12.5 million mineral owners in the U.S., with oil and gas royalties generating billions of dollars for Texas families last year.


“Texas’ independent oil and gas producers are essential to our state and nation,” said Railroad Commission Chairman Christi Craddick. “I’m grateful for the leadership and tenacity of the men and women in this industry to fuel our economy, provide jobs and pay significant tax revenue for our roads, water and education infrastructure.”


“The Texas oil and gas industry has remained a cornerstone of the economy providing high-paying career opportunities, as well as significant taxes and royalty payments made to state, local and federal government entities,” said Eugene Garcia, President, Hurd Enterprises, and Chairman, TIPRO. “The favorable business environment, environmental stewardship and science based approach to regulatory oversight in Texas is a model for all oil and gas producing states. TIPRO thanks our state leaders for their commitment to ensuring that the Texas oil and natural gas industry remains a vital contributor to our state and national economy.”


From an environmental standpoint, the U.S. oil and gas industry continues to advance efforts to reduce energy emissions through innovation, best practices and voluntary industry programs. Even as production has continued to increase, CO2 emissions in the U.S. are at their lowest levels in 20 years. These positive energy emission trends are attributable to voluntary actions from operators, including investment of over $250 billion in greenhouse gas mitigating technologies by U.S. oil and natural gas companies over the past two decades. Increasing use of natural gas for electricity generation has also resulted in reductions in the emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and criteria air pollutants.


“As the leading state advocacy organization representing independent oil and gas producers and royalty owners in Texas, TIPRO remains focused on advancing a targeted federal policy agenda, while protecting and strengthening an already robust business and regulatory environment in Texas,” said Ed Longanecker, President, TIPRO. “Key priorities for TIPRO at the state level during the 86th Texas Legislative session include increased funding for transportation investment in energy producing areas, workforce development, property tax reform, and a balanced approach to critical infrastructure needs that recognizes the dominance of the mineral estate, existing laws and regulations, and private property rights.”


What does Oil & Gas mean for Texas?

  • Texas led the nation in oil and gas jobs with 352,371 people employed in this industry in 2018, representing 40 percent of all oil and gas jobs nationwide last year.
  • Upstream jobs in Texas (228,553) were more than four times that of Oklahoma (49,717), and seven times the number of upstream jobs in Louisiana (32,846).
  • Texas also led the nation in the number of oil and gas businesses (11,757), accounting for 29 percent of all oil and gas businesses nationwide.
  • Oil and gas jobs in Texas paid annual average wages of $130,706 in 2018, 134 percent more than the average private sector job in Texas.
  • The total payroll for oil and gas in Texas exceeded $46 billion in 2018, an increase of 9 percent from 2017.
  • Texas was the top oil producing state in the nation with a record 1.54 billion bbl, an increase of 277 million bbl compared to 2017. Texas also led the country in natural gas production with 8.8 Tcf.
  • Texas has eight of the top twenty-five metropolitan areas for oil and gas employment.
  • Ten of the top twenty-five metropolitan areas in the country ranked by upstream employment are located in Texas.
  • Between 2010 – 2018, the Texas oil and natural gas industry paid over $100 billion in state taxes and state royalty payments.
  • Total U.S. goods and services purchased by the Texas oil and gas industry exceeded $204 billion in 2018, 82 percent of which were purchased from Texas businesses.


The “State of Energy Report” series is published exclusively by the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association. A full list of the data sources used to develop this report can be viewed in the methodology section of the report.


Click here to download a copy of TIPRO’s 2019 “State of Energy” report.


The Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association (TIPRO) is a trade association representing the interests of nearly 3,000 independent oil and natural gas producers and royalty owners throughout Texas. As one of the nation’s largest statewide associations representing both independent producers and royalty owners, members include small businesses, the largest, publicly-traded independent producers, and mineral owners, estates, and trusts. Members of TIPRO are responsible for producing more than 85 percent of the natural gas and 70 percent of the oil within Texas, and own mineral interests in millions of acres across the state.