Pipeline Giant Sues Railroad Commission For Lax Oversight Of Gas Flaring

"A subsidiary of Tulsa-based Williams Cos. is suing Texas' oil and gas regulatory agency after it approved a request from Dallas-based Exco Operating Co. to burn off natural gas from wells in South Texas while they were hooked up to Williams' pipeline system."

"A major pipeline operator is suing the Texas Railroad Commission — the state agency that regulates oil and gas drilling — alleging that it has blatantly disregarded longstanding state law that restricts the controversial and growing practice of burning off natural gas.

The lawsuit, filed Nov. 20 in Travis County District Court, is the latest development in a first-of-its-kind dispute between Tulsa-based Williams Cos. and Exco Operating Co. over the Dallas-based company’s authority to flare natural gas that comes up with the oil it pumps from the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas. In December 2017, Exco asked the Railroad Commission for permission to burn off excess gas from dozens of oil wells and later asked for a two-year extension of that authority.

The request was unusual because the wells were already connected to a pipeline gathering system owned by Williams that's capable of transporting the fossil fuel to market. When oil and gas producers ask the Railroad Commission for permission to flare, which they have increasingly done amid a historic oil boom in the state, it is often because they are unable to hook up to a pipeline."

Kiah Collier reports for the Texas Tribune December 3, 2019.

Source: Texas Tribune, 12/05/2019