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TITLE 31NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION
PART 1GENERAL LAND OFFICE
CHAPTER 9EXPLORATION AND LEASING OF STATE OIL AND GAS
SUBCHAPTER BISSUING EXPLORATION PERMITS AND OIL AND GAS LEASES
RULE §9.11Geophysical and Geochemical Exploration Permits

(a) General rule of application. The rules in this section shall apply to lands described in §9.21(1)(2)(3)(a) and (4) of this title (relating to Leasing Guide).

(b) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this section, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

  (1) Applicant. A person seeking a permit under this section.

  (2) Geochemical exploration. A survey or investigation conducted to discover or locate oil and gas prospects by means of soil sampling, analysis, or other accepted techniques.

  (3) Geophysical exploration. A survey or investigation conducted to discover or locate oil and gas prospects using magnetic, gravity, seismic, and/or electric techniques.

  (4) High velocity energy source. Energy sources which generate a sharp-peaked energy pulse including, but not limited to, dynamite, pentalite, seismogel, and ammonium nitrate.

  (5) Low velocity energy source. Energy sources that generate a bell shaped energy pulse including, but not limited to, pneumatic, acoustic, and vibrating devices.

  (6) Oyster lease. An area leased from the state for the production of oysters and marked according to the requirements of TPWD.

  (7) Oyster reef. Natural or artificial formations located in intertidal or subtidal areas that are composed of oyster shell, live oysters, and other organisms that are discrete, contiguous, and clearly distinguishable from scattered oyster shells, live oysters, and other organisms.

  (8) Permit. License issued by the commissioner authorizing geophysical and/or geochemical exploration on public school land.

  (9) Permittee. The holder of a permit, who shall be the person responsible for conducting geophysical or geochemical exploration.

  (10) Recreational beaches. Any shoreline frequently utilized by the general public for recreational activities.

  (11) Resource management codes. Abbreviations for recommended environmental guidelines adopted by state and federal resource agencies and applicable to state-owned tracts.

  (12) Shot. Any action resulting in the generation of an energy pulse from which geophysical data is obtained, including both high and low velocity energy sources.

  (13) Shrimping fleet. A group of five or more boats trawling for shrimp in an area not more than one mile in diameter.

  (14) Structure. Any man-made improvement placed on or affixed to state-owned lands.

(c) Permit applications and procedures.

  (1) Geophysical or geochemical exploration for mineral resources may not be conducted on unleased state-owned uplands or on unleased state-owned submerged lands without a permit issued by the commissioner.

  (2) Permits are issued at the discretion of the commissioner. The commissioner's decision shall be based upon a consideration of the following factors (no one factor alone shall be determinative):

    (A) the date of receipt by the GLO of an applicant's completed application;

    (B) applicant's past record of compliance with permit conditions and all other applicable statutes and regulations;

    (C) frequency of seismic exploration in the area to be surveyed;

    (D) impact on natural resources;

    (E) scope and nature of applicant's and contractor's proposed operations;

    (F) number of permits currently held by the applicant as well as number of currently pending applications filed by the applicant;

    (G) consideration of any comments on the permit application made by the following state and federal resource agencies: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, United States Fish & Wildlife Service, National Marine Fisheries Service, United States Army Corps of Engineers, Texas Historical Commission, and any other appropriate entities;

    (H) any other factors relevant to a particular application.

  (3) Geophysical exploration on bay tracts, as depicted on maps on file at the GLO, shall occur only once every three years, unless this provision is waived in writing by the commissioner.

  (4) A permit application shall be made upon forms furnished by GLO, and shall include:

    (A) the names, addresses, phone numbers, and taxpayer ID numbers of the applicant. If an applicant is a corporation, it shall include the names of the corporate representatives authorized to execute legal documents;

    (B) maps showing the location of shot lines in relation to state lease tracts, including x and y coordinates of the beginning and end points of each line as designated by the Texas Coordinate System, the Texas Natural Resources Code, §21.071, (for submerged lands only);

    (C) any resource management code information available regarding the tracts on which the exploration activity will be conducted; and

    (D) a complete description of the number and spacing of shots, shot lines, and recording devices, the size of charge per shot, and a description of the energy source to be used during exploration activities.

  (5) A complete application must be received by the GLO at least 20 business days for submerged lands and at least 10 business days for uplands before proposed commencement of operations. The application-processing period may extend beyond this time period. No operations, including any surveying of the area, may begin until the applicant receives approval from the GLO and is assigned a permit number

  (6) The application shall be accompanied by the application fee. All other appropriate fees, as specified in §3.31 of this title (relating to Fees), are due and shall be paid to the GLO prior to the permit's issuance.

  (7) Permits are issued subject to any lease or rights granted to a surface or mineral lessee on tracts to be explored.

  (8) Prior to the issuance of a permit, applicant may be required to submit additional information.

(d) Insurance. Prior to the issuance of a permit, applicant shall file with the GLO, on behalf of themselves as well as for any persons or organizations operating under a permit, proof of current liability insurance, in an amount to be not less than one million dollars, from a company approved by the Texas Board of Insurance or alternatively such other evidence as may reasonably be required by the GLO to establish the applicant's financial ability to self-insure against potential liability.

(e) Geophysical or geochemical operational guidelines.

  (1) The following provisions shall apply to all geophysical or geochemical operations conducted on state-owned lands.

    (A) Permits shall be granted for a minimum of three days and a maximum of 90 days. A permit may be extended for multiple periods of 30 days at the discretion of the commissioner and upon payment of an additional application fee.

    (B) Failure to comply with any conditions included in the permit which pertain to GLO or any other state or federal regulatory agency shall be considered a violation as specified in subsection (h) of this section.

    (C) The GLO will assign a permit number and give written notice of its issuance to the permittee. The permittee shall give verbal notice to the GLO prior to commencement of operations.

    (D) Permits shall not be transferred or assigned without the written consent of the commissioner.

    (E) Geophysical crews operating on state-owned lands shall have the following items in their possession and available for inspection at the permittee's field office by the commissioner or a designated representative, upon request:

      (i) a copy of the seismic permit, including any conditions, and the authorized permit number;

      (ii) a copy of GLO rules governing geophysical and geochemical exploration;

      (iii) detailed maps showing the approved shot lines and shot points covered by the permit; and

      (iv) a copy of the resource management codes and definitions as provided by the GLO for those tracts on which operations will be conducted (applicable to submerged lands only).

    (F) No high velocity energy sources in excess of 20 pounds may be used on state lands without the written permission of the commissioner. Applicants wishing to utilize shots in excess of these limitations shall submit written documentation to the commissioner explaining the necessity for the size shot proposed, the number of shots to be utilized, the location of all shot holes, the depth of the charge, the time interval that will pass between placement of the charge and the actual detonation of the charge, the proposed date that operations will commence, and the expected operations period. After evaluation, the request will be approved or denied, at the commissioner's discretion.

    (G) With the exception of low velocity energy sources used in the Gulf of Mexico, no shots shall be discharged other than in daylight hours except by written permission of the commissioner.

    (H) No shots shall be detonated within three miles of a recreational beach between May 1st and September 10th.

    (I) Pollution, and other impacts to natural resources shall be governed by these guidelines:

      (i) All geophysical and geochemical exploration shall be conducted in compliance with all applicable state and federal statutes and regulations relating to pollution of land and water;

      (ii) Any physical modification of the surface including, but not limited to, mounding, cratering, or vehicle tracks shall be remedied upon completion of the work, or sooner, if the commissioner determines that immediate restoration is practical and is necessary to minimize impacts to natural resources. Such surface restoration shall be coordinated with and approved by GLO;

      (iii) Persons using wheeled or tracked vehicles on state-owned lands shall use reasonable efforts to avoid impact to the area;

      (iv) No person operating a vessel, vehicle, or equipment operating under permit shall discharge solid waste or garbage into state waters or state-owned lands. Solid waste includes, but is not limited to, nonbiodegradable containers, rubbish, or refuse. A sign, with letters no smaller than one inch in height, shall be displayed in a high traffic area of any vessel or equipment operating in state waters under permit, stating, "Discharge of any solid waste or garbage into state waters is strictly prohibited and may result in revocation of the state permit authorizing exploration operations".

      (v) The GLO will ensure compliance with this subsection through permit conditions designed to: avoid adverse impacts to natural resources, minimize unavoidable impacts, and to compensate for those significant and adverse impacts that may occur during the permitted activity.

    (J) Prior to conducting any operations, permittees shall coordinate with the appropriate regulatory agencies regarding any operations that could potentially impact state or federally protected species.

    (K) No geophysical surveying or shooting shall be performed within 1,000 feet of a known bird rookery island, as depicted on maps maintained by GLO, between February 15th and September 1st.

    (L) Any person conducting geophysical or geochemical activities under this section must immediately advise the commissioner of the following, which presently exist or can reasonably be anticipated:

      (i) the location and type of any dangerous condition which may constitute a threat to human health or safety, if such condition is the result of the geochemical or geological activities; or

      (ii) activities or situations, caused by permittee's activities which may adversely affect the environment, aquatic life or wildlife, cultural resources, or other uses of the area in which the exploration activity is conducted.

    (M) Any pollution, fish or wildlife kill, or loss of property shall be immediately reported to the commissioner.

    (N) In accordance with Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, §12.301, a permittee or contractor is liable to the state for the value of fish or wildlife taken, killed, or inured by work under a permit.

    (O) The commissioner may require biological monitors during geophysical or geochemical exploration.

  (2) In addition to the provisions of paragraph (1) of this subsection, the following provisions shall apply to geophysical operations conducted on submerged lands.

    (A) Each person applying to perform geophysical exploration on state-owned submerged lands shall file with the GLO a unique symbol, number, or series of characters which will be used to identify all equipment and materials used in the geophysical and/or geochemical exploration.

    (B) All equipment used in connection with geophysical survey work which is placed on submerged lands shall be:

      (i) distinctly marked with permittee's unique symbol, number, or series of characters clearly identifying the company performing the geophysical operations;

      (ii) in compliance with rules governing size, design, lighting, flagging, and marking, as promulgated by the United States Coast Guard and the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and;

      (iii) removed immediately upon completion of geophysical work.

    (C) Staging areas must be approved by the GLO, and shall not be established in vegetated areas of tidal sand or mud flats, submerged aquatic vegetation, or coastal wetlands, as those terms are defined in §16.1 of this title (relating to Definitions and Scope), or vegetated dune areas.

Cont'd...

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