Texas Regulator Considers Oil Output Cuts for First Time in Decades
Texas’s main oil regulator is weighing for the first time in nearly half a century whether the state should curb crude production, a move that would have an enormous business and political impact.
The idea, still in preliminary discussions among the staff at theTexas Railroad Commission — which, despite its name regulates the oil industry — comes after oil prices plunged to levels last seen 18 years ago.
As a first step, the staff is reviewing how implementing the reduction of output via what’s known as pro-rationing would look like in practice, according to people who have discussed the issue with the staff. On first review, the staff believes it’s legally possible to mandate pro-rationing, one of the people said.
The state agency began looking at such a measure after multiple independent shale producers reached out to see what a state response would look like, according to separate people familiar with the situation. In the two weeks since the crude alliance between Saudi Arabia and Russia unraveled,oil has lost almost half its value.
No policy has been formally drafted, and a response from the commission isn’t guaranteed, the people said. The Wall Street Journal first reported that the commission was considering curtailments.
Historically, the commission allowed producers to pump to a percentage of the so-called maximum efficient rate of each well. The commission last imposed limits on Texas oil production in March 1972, when it allowed all wells in the state to flow at 100% of their rate for the first time since soon after the end of the Second World War.
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