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    Texas seeks to avoid Winter Storm Uri repeat


The state oil and gas regulator adopted new rules that require gas producers to winterise their operations.

by: Daniel Graeber

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Texas seeks to avoid Winter Storm Uri repeat

A state energy regulator in Texas on November 30 adopted rules that require natural gas producers to winterise their operations to avoid a repeat of a February storm that caused sweeping blackouts.

Dubbed Winter Storm Uri, sub-freezing temperatures in Texas in February froze everything from well heads to wind turbines. In a state address in February, Texas governor Gregg Abbot said all forms of power generation in the state failed under the freezing conditions.

“That includes natural gas, coal, nuclear, as well as wind and solar,” he said. “Each of these power sources failed to fully produce because of inadequate safeguards.”

The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), the state’s oil and gas regulator, adopted rules that give natural gas infrastructure a critical designation to address any future energy emergency.

“With the passage of this rule, critical facilities including more than 19,000 of the state’s natural gas production facilities will be required to weatherise and be prepared to operate in future winter weather events,” RRC chairman Wayne Christian said.

A draft provision of the rule would have allowed operators to pay a one-time fee of $150 and file a claim saying they are not prepared for a weather emergency. The latest revision states that facilities that produce the most volume or pipe natural gas directly to power plants would not be eligible for the exception.

"It has been wrongly reported that for $150 any company can be exempted from preparing for winter," said Christian. "The $150 is a fee set in statute two decades ago for all applications for exceptions. It is just an application fee, not a get-out-of-jail free card. No company will automatically receive an exemption and applications can and will be denied."