HB 3291

84(R) - 2015
House Energy Resources
House Energy Resources
Natural Resources

Vote Recommendation

Vote Yes; Amend
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Positive
  • Neutral
  • Neutral


Richard Raymond


Phil King

Bill Caption

Relating to increasing the punishment for certain offenses involving oil, gas, or condensate, or equipment designed for the exploration or production of oil and gas; creating an offense.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

HB 3291, if passed, would modify the Natural Resources Code (Section 85.389) and the Penal Code (Section 31.03) by increasing the punishment for certain offenses related to the oil and gas industries, namely by adding a new offense and elevating the penalties for certain existing offenses. One change would be made to the Natural Resources Code, and two changes would be made to the Penal Code.

The addition to the Natural Resources Code is as follows:

  • Would create a new offense pertaining to an individual purchasing or selling oil, gas, or condensate without an applicable tender or permit from the Commission -- a second degree felony.

The additions to the Penal Code is as follows: 

  • Would amend section 31.03 to stipulate that offenses of theft under that section would result in the following: Lowers the threshold for a second-degree felony if the equipment oil, gas, or pipeline equipment valued $10,000 or more but less than $200,000. Normally, the threshold for a second degree felony would be a minimum of $100,000. So this lowers the second degree felony threshold by a factor of 10 if the equipment is oil, gas, or pipeline equipment.

  • Normally under this section, a theft would elevate to a first degree felony if the value of the property stolen was $200,000 or more. However, this bill adds a provision that if an actor involved in property theft had previously entered into contractual agreement with the owner of oil, gas, or condensate property, he/she could be charged with a felony in the first degree at the lowered threshold of a $10,000 valuation of the property stolen.

Vote Recommendation Notes

Law enforcement is clearly a legitimate function of government. People involved in this kind of crime are generally involved in sophisticated criminal activity. This is not the type of thing a person stumbles into unknowingly. The current penalty structure is appropriately stiff. This legislation increases penalties in our view to a level that in some circumstances would be disproportionate to the crime. It is a clear case of overcriminalization to punish a person for up to 99 years in prison for a theft valued at $10,000. 

The general aims of this bill are consistent with the legitimate law enforcement role of government. However, we recommend that it be amended to set the first degree felony threshold for theft by an employee under this section at $100,000; and the threshold for a Class B felony, or if the actor is an employee of the company, at $10,000. Such an amendment would keep the punishments proposed under this section proportional to the crimes committed.

Organizations Supporting

Shell Oil Co.
Texas Association of Manufacturers
Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association
Texas Royalty Council