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New Texas Law Allows Title Transfer of Drilling Wastes


The recent Texas Legislative session passed a measure, effective September 1, that recognizes the title transfer, to the recycler, for the “permitted recycling” of oil and gas related drilling wastes

Historically all drilling waste related to the drilling of an oil or gas well belongs to and is the sole responsibility of the Operator of record for the well forever or as often stated, “From cradle to Grave”. Every Operator that historically drilled an oil or gas well in Texas generates what is called RCRA exempt waste generated from drilling in the ground and has complete ownership of this waste and all associated environmental liabilities in perpetuity, regardless of the chain of custody.

When drilling wastes are hauled off the drill site to a disposal facility, that facility must be permitted for RCRA exempt wastes although the ownership and full environmental liability remains with the Operator that generated the drilling waste. Similarly, if the drilling wastes are buried on lease or handled in any way other than being recycled by a Permitted Recycler, the drilling waste remains the responsibility of the Operator that drilled the well.

Recycling of RCRA Exempt solid oil and gas drilling wastes has become a viable alternative for Oil and Gas Operators over the last few years. Most are classified as Commercial Recyclers which operate off-lease and require that the drilling waste be hauled to their Permitted facility where the waste materials can be recycled. Then the Recycled Materials must be hauled away from the facility to be reused. Eco Environmental Services (EES) is the only Permitted Recycler today that operates as a mobile facility working on-lease which eliminates all the trucking associated with the drilling waste.

The Texas Legislature, in its 2015 session, passed HB 1331 which supports EPA rules and further defines that Permitted Recycling of solid oil and gas drilling wastes breaks the chain of liabilities for an Operator once reused and documented by the Permitted Recycler and as regulated by the Railroad Commission of Texas.

This new law that takes effect September 1, 2015 also recognizes that the solid oil and gas drilling waste is transferred to a Permitted Recycler when the waste is transferred by truck and delivered to a Commercial Recycling facility, unless otherwise stipulated by contract.

This means that when the material is removed from the drill site by either the Operator or Recycler, the Recycler accepts ownership of the material and is henceforth responsible for recycling the waste and handling where the drilling waste ends up.

While the language of the bill attempts to be clear, its interpretation and implementation is left in the hands of the Railroad Commission of Texas to set the rules and regulate compliance for the new law.

Austin environmental law practitioner, Jeff Civins, notes:

“HB 1331 extends tort protections previously associated with the off-site recycling of oil and gas drilling waste. The intent of this legislation presumably is to further encourage the beneficial reuse of recycled oilfield wastes by providing producers the incentive of certain protections from tort liability.

These statutory protections are limited, so producers of oil field wastes would do well to consider the spectrum of liabilities they face and how best to manage these drilling wastes to minimize their exposure to those liabilities.”

This new law, sponsored by Representative Phil King, was also intended to encourage the recycling of drilling wastes and to further define that a Permit in good standing is required from the Railroad Commission of Texas to recycle such drilling wastes.

Representative Jim Murphy, who voted for the bill, mentioned in a recent email exchange:

“Passage of HB 1331 will benefit our energy industry while making it easier for recycling these wastes. I was proud to join my colleagues in voting for this bill and thank Chairman King for his leadership as its author.”

Eco Environmental Services, a Permitted On-Lease Mobile Recycler of Solid Oil & Gas Drilling Waste since 2013, applauds the efforts of the Texas Legislature and strongly encourages Oil and Gas Operators to recycle their drilling wastes and eliminate the potential for future contamination of our environment.

EES provides the Permitted Recycling of solid oil and gas drilling wastes utilizing an all natural technology developed and licensed by Boldwater USA that achieves the results desired by Rep. King and the Texas Legislature along with additional cost benefits for the Oil and Gas Operator.

EES Recycles solid oil and gas drilling wastes directly off the drilling rig and at the well site which eliminates the need for, and use of specialized trucking to transport the drilling waste material across lease roads and state highways to an off-lease recycling facility.

These heavy loads have caused tremendous wear and destruction of state and county roads as we have seen across Texas. Reduction of these heavy loads on our roads will reduce the tax burden for property owners and the inconveniences associated with the road repairs and re-construction.

Resulting from its process, EES generates a high quality road base material that exceeds TxDOT specifications, provides confirmation by third party lab testing for 14 control parameters specified by the Railroad Commission of Texas through the Permit issued to EES for the Recycling of these Solid Oil and Gas Drilling wastes providing a beneficial recycled material (no longer a waste) for use as a high quality road base material.

Utilizing EES to recycle solid oil and gas drilling waste provides a quality road base material, completely severs all environmental liabilities, and reduces costs for the Oil and Gas Operator.

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