Texas Oil/Gas Drilling Permits Down But Well Inspections on Track

January 14, 2021

The Texas state agency for regulating the oil and gas industry says it issued the number of original drilling permits issued in December 2020 was down nearly by half compared with December 2019. However, the Railroad Commission of Texas also says it is on its way to exceeding its well inspection goals.

The commission issued a total of 486 original drilling permits in December 2020 compared to 803 in December 2019. The December 2020 total includes 424 permits to drill new oil or gas wells, four to re-enter plugged well bores, and 48 for re-completions of existing well bores.

The breakdown of well types for original drilling permits in December 2020 is 118 oil, 43 gas, 296 oil or gas, 12 injection, and 17 other permits.

In December 2020, Commission staff processed 493 oil, 77 gas and 116 injection completions for new drills, re-entries and re-completions, compared to 491 oil, 98 gas, and 20 injection completions in December 2019.

Total well completions processed for 2020 year to date for new drills, re-entries and re-completions are 14,140 compared to 9,238 recorded during the same period in 2019.

Technology changes are allowing the commission to report more detailed data on drilling permits and well completions each month. The information in prior year reports may not correlate exactly to the same results on the new report. These technological improvements provide more statistics and transparency, and the new report is available on the Commission website at:



The Railroad Commission in 2018 set the goal inspecting every one of the nearly 440,000 oil and gas wells in the state at least once every five years. One of the Texas Legislature’s performance measures for the RRC tracks the percentage of wells that are uninspected in a five-year cycle. For the 2020-21 biennium the goal is to have that percentage be 5% or less in each fiscal year.

At the end of fiscal year 2020 only 1% of wells had not been inspected in a five-year cycle. RRC inspectors are well ahead of pace in fiscal year 2021. In just the first quarter of the fiscal year the commission already achieved its goal of having less than 5% of wells uninspected, a number that is expected to keep improving as inspections continue for the rest of the year.

Source: Railroad Commission of Texas

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