Texas Railroad Commission
Spring 2013 Site Review
Student: International Relations & Global Studies Senior
A typical ‘day in the life’ of an intern at the Railroad Commission of Texas is as follows: Arrive at the building and proceed up to the 11th floor via the elevators. Once there, proceed to Dave Hill’s office in the Oil & Gas Division in order to check in. Make sure you have your ID card otherwise you won’t be able to get through the doors. Dave is the supervisor for all interns at the RCC and most likely after you’ve checked in he will sit you down, tell you a story that could last anywhere from one to five minutes, and then send you one your merry way to get your tasks done.
Interns at the RRC have two main duties for which they are responsible; both require intensive training when interns first start at the office. The first task is that of completing AORs and TOC calculations for the Oil & Gas Division. It sounds complicated, but it’s really not...especially after receiving training on the Railroad Commission’s Internal GIS Viewer. The acronym AOR stands for Area of Review while TOC stands for Top of Cement. In Texas, when a company wants to drill a new oil/injection well they must first send in a permit application to the RRC. The RRC will only grant permits should the well in question be found to have no negative effects on other wells within a ¼ mile radius. This process is known as an AOR. An intern will review a well application sent to the RRC and using the organization’s Internal GIS viewer and TOC calculator will determine whether or not the other wells within the area will be affected by the drilling of a new oil/injector well. The intern’s supervisor will then review the work and either grant or deny the permit.
The second task assigned to interns at the RRC involves close cooperation with the GAU, which stands for the Groundwater Advisory Unit. The GAU is full of archives that need to be digitized. This is where the interns come in. After receiving training on two technical programs (BlueView and P/I Dwights) the intern is properly equipped to upload the archives, which are most often old oil well readings, onto the RRCs general database so they can then be exported to a GIS program known as Petra. In all honesty the task is a fairly easy. Personally, I found it very intriguing as the GAU’s stacks are full of interesting information.
The RRC only requires that interns work eight hours per week, however this internship course requires a minimum of 10. Dave is very flexible about hours and will allow interns to choose their schedule and hours as the position is unpaid. The tasks are fairly simple and the work is interesting, and interns will certainly learn a lot during their tenure here. Show up for your 10 hours a week and get your work done and you’ll have no problems here. A quick word of warning, though in truth, the RRC can be a fairly lonely place. I’m there three days a week and am crammed behind a desk working out of sight and earshot of most everyone else... I can’t say I’ve enjoyed that aspect too much. Other than that however, the RRC has done right by me.