Upstream Texas - Spring/Summer 2017 - 14
FE ATU RE
INITIATIVE AIMS TO
RELIEF IN THE
AS 2016 DAWNED, it seemed increasingly
likely to Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi
Craddick that the oil and gas industry's
downturn wasn't quite over. Already, that
slump had wrung out the high spirits that
characterized the industry in recent times.
Worse yet one of the few strong portions of
the U.S. economy since the Great Recession
were bleeding jobs.
The time had come, she reasoned, to act.
Fortunately, Craddick, who before 2016
ended would become the commission's
chairman, had been doing her homework.
Since she'd begun campaigning for the
Railroad Commission in 2012, Craddick had
made a point of using her public speaking
engagements to ask audiences for feedback.
Or as she puts it, she wanted them to
convey the "good, bad and ugly" about the
"People, particularly small operators, would
say there are a lot of forms, and they would ask
what the commission does with all of them,"
Craddick describes. "And as we got into this
latest downturn, the other major topic was
keeping marginal and stripper wells online."
permitting activity dropped 70 percent in
two years and some staff members suddenly
found demands on the agency's permitting
treadmill slowing from a sprint to a crawl.
And so the commission began to make use
of that opportunity. While enforcement and
inspection activities maintained the normal
pace, she reports, other staff members had
a rare opportunity to take inventory, all with
the thematic emphasis of advancing regulatory
The overriding theme, Craddick indicates, was
to make sure the commission's requirements
passed a basic cost/benefit analysis.
"The chance to come up and take a breath as
an agency allowed us to look at our rules," she
says. "It was a good time to do that."
Like the adage about converting life's lemons
into lemonade, Craddick says she realized that
all her informal research could fold into a larger
undertaking at the Railroad Commission, as
Craddick called on commission staff to do
so with the goal of helping small operators
stay in business and keeping Texans
employed at oil companies. But it wasn't only
The responses were instructive, she says.
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