Railroad Commission of Texas, Oil and Gas Division:
An Inventory of Oil and Gas Division Miscellaneous Records at the Texas State Archives, 1932-1933, 1940, 1947
The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. Its statutory role is to prevent waste of the state's natural resources, to protect the correlative rights of different interest owners, to prevent pollution, and to provide safety in matters such as hydrogen sulfide. It oversees hazardous materials pipelines and natural gas pipelines and distribution systems as well as propane, butane, compressed natural gas, and liquefied natural gas. It works to make sure a continuous, safe supply of natural gas is available to Texas consumers at the lowest reasonable price. Additionally, the Commission regulates surface mining for coal, uranium, and iron ore gravel, and conducts a program for reclaiming lands that were mined and abandoned before 1975.
The Railroad Commission of Texas had its origin in the demands of the shipping public in the late 1880s that insisted that railroads be subject to regulation based on public interest. An advocate for governmental regulation, Attorney General James Stephen Hogg ran for Governor in 1890 with the issue of railroad regulation as the focal point of the campaign. Hogg was elected Governor in the general election and the voters also approved an amendment to Article X, Section 2 of the Texas Constitution that empowered the Legislature to enact statutes creating regulatory agencies. These elections paved the way for the Legislature to enact on April 3, 1891 "An Act to Establish a Railroad Commission of the State of Texas," that later was placed in the Texas Revised Civil Statutes under article 6444 et seq. (House Bills 1, 3, and 58, 22nd Texas Legislature, Regular Session).
The Commission originally consisted of three members appointed by the Governor for three-year terms. Governor Hogg appointed the first three Commissioners in 1891 including John H. Reagan, who resigned as U.S. Senator from Texas to serve as the first Chairman. The Texas Constitution, Article XIX, Section 30 was amended in 1894 to provide for elective six-year overlapping terms for the Commissioners. That same year John H. Reagan was elected and served until his retirement in 1903.
The Texas Railroad Commission was the first regulatory agency created in the State of Texas and originally had jurisdiction over the rates and operations of railroads, terminals, wharves and express companies. The legal focus was on intrastate passenger and freight activities. Interstate jurisdiction fell under the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission. For the first twenty-five years of its existence, the Railroad Commission was largely concerned with regulating railroads, setting rates, receiving complaints, and making investigations. As other controversies arose where the Legislature deemed that the public interest could best be served by regulation, additional duties were assigned to the Railroad Commission.
The Railroad Commission's authority was broadened beginning in 1917 with the passage of the Pipeline Petroleum Law (Senate Bill 68, 35th Legislature, Regular Session) that declared pipelines to be common carriers like railroads and placed them under the Commission's jurisdiction. This was the first act to designate the Railroad Commission as the agency to administer conservation laws relating to oil and gas. The Commission's regulatory and enforcement powers in oil and gas were increased by the Oil and Gas Conservation Law (Senate Bill 350 of the 36th Legislature, Regular Session), effective June 18, 1919. This act gave the Railroad Commission jurisdiction to regulate the production of oil and gas. Acting upon this legislation, the Commission adopted in 1919 the first statewide rules regulating the oil and gas industry to promote conservation and safety, including Rule 37. This rule requires minimum distances between wells at drilling sites in order to protect field pressure and correlative rights.
The Oil and Gas Division works to prevent the waste of oil, gas, and geothermal resources and to prevent the pollution of fresh water from oil and gas operations. The division holds statewide hearings on market demand and provides for equitable production among operators by establishing monthly production allowables. It issues drilling permits, reviews and approves oil and gas well completions, collects data on oil and gas operations, and promotes public safety. It also protects underground drinking water through regulation of the underground injection of fluids in oil field operations, a program approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. It oversees well plugging operations, site remediation, underground hydrocarbon storage, hazardous waste management, and maintains a large amount of data on wells - their location, production, etc. The division also investigates complaints and conducts other investigations. This division maintains 10 district offices where field enforcement and support personnel monitor oil and gas operations. The commission does not have the authority to set oil and gas prices at the wellhead. The departments within the Oil and Gas Division are: Administration, Technical Permitting, Field Operations, Administrative Compliance, and the Oil Field Cleanup Program, which includes Site Remediation and Well Plugging.
(Sources: Guide to Texas State Agencies, various editions; general laws and statutes; the Railroad Commission website (http://www.rrc.state.tx.us/about/index.php), accessed on February 9, 2009; and the records themselves.)
The Railroad Commission, through its Oil and Gas Division, regulates the exploration, production, and transportation of oil and natural gas in Texas. These records consist of oil production statistics compiled by the Oil Accounting and Statistical Department in 1932 and 1933 for the East Texas field and in April 1940 for the entire state; testimony from a 1947 hearing on salt water disposal in the East Texas field; and a 1947 speech by the chairman of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission on its history and functions. This series forms part of the records of the Oil and Gas Division of the Railroad Commission of Texas.
The oil production statistics were compiled by the Oil Accounting and Statistical Department of the Oil and Gas Division. The Railroad Commission set an allowable amount of production for each oil well in the state and the compilation of production figures was necessary to enforce the allowables. Each month, oil well operators reported their production, disposition, and storage of oil. In this series are the April 1940 monthly reports for the entire state. Also present in this series are four quarterly statements prepared by the Oil and Gas Division for the East Texas oil well operators, 1932-1933, that list each operator's lease, survey, number of wells, inventory, production, allowable, pipeline company, deliveries, and balance. These quarterly statements then summarize the individual data to give total figures for inventory, production, allowable, deliveries, and oil in storage for the East Texas area.
Next in this series are two statements on disposal of salt water produced by oil field operations in East Texas. The statements were given by officers of the East Texas Salt Water Disposal Company at a Railroad Commission hearing on April 17, 1947. The statements report the history of salt water production in the East Texas field, the problem of disposal, the organization of the East Texas Salt Water Disposal Company, its operations, and the technical aspects of the return of salt water underground. The two statements are typed and include charts and photographs.
Last in this series is a speech given by Hiram M. Dow, Chairman of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission, at the annual meeting of the Panhandle Producers and Royalty Association in Amarillo on June 18, 1947. Mr. Dow spoke on the history and future of the American oil industry and the history and function of the Interstate Oil Compact Commission. The Commission is an organization composed of oil producing states whose primany goals are to conserve and protect oil resources and prevent waste.
This finding aid describes one series of the Railroad Commission of Texas records. See Railroad Commission of Texas: An Overview of Records for more records series.
Restrictions on Access
Materials housed in the State Archives do not circulate, but may be used in the State Archives search room. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.
Restrictions on Use
Most records created by Texas state agencies are not copyrighted and may be freely used in any way. State records also include materials received by, not created by, state agencies. Copyright remains with the creator. The researcher is responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).
Researchers are required to wear gloves provided by the Archives when viewing photographs.
(Identify the item), Oil and Gas Division miscellaneous records, Railroad Commission of Texas. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Accession number: unknown
These records were probably transferred to the Archives and Information Services Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission by the Railroad Commission of Texas with other Railroad Commission records, but the date of transfer is unknown.
Described by Paul B. Beck, March 1987
DACS compliance by Laura K. Saegert, February 2009
Detailed Description of the Records