Texas operators applied for more oil and gas drilling permits during March than a year earlier, with the Permian Basin still the go-to place for activity, according to state regulators. 

Drilling Permits

The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) said it issued 798 original drilling permits last month, versus 744 in March 2020. 

Last month, the RRC issued 682 permits to drill new oil or gas wells. There also were 13 permits issued to re-enter plugged well bores. In addition, 99 permits were approved for recompleting existing well bores.

Permits to drill new wells were highest in RRC District 8, headquartered in Midland, which is the heart of the Permian. Midland staff approved 379 new oil and gas wells during March. Midland also reported the most well completions, with 428 oil and 65 natural gas.

The RRC’s San Angelo office, also in West Texas, approved 80 new oil and gas wells last month, second to Midland. It also reported 26 new oil well completions; no natural gas wells were completed last month. 

The Refugio office, which covers a portion of South Texas, home to the Eagle Ford Shale, approved 71 new oil and gas well permits. Refugio also reported 34 oil well completions and 10 for natural gas. The San Antonio office, which also processes Eagle Ford wells, reported 40 were approved for new wells; it also reported 22 oil well completions and 42 natural gas well completions.

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Commission staff last month said it processed 601 oil, 162 gas and 110 injection permits to complete new drills, re-entries and re-completions. That compares with March 2020 when RRC processed 1,054 oil, 313 gas and 240 injection completions.

Total well completions processed year-to-date through March for new drills, re-entries and re-completions was 2,279. Through the first three months of 2020, well completions processed totaled 3,857, RRC noted.