(Bloomberg) -- Texas oil regulators voted unanimously in favor of Elon Musk’s SpaceX rocket company in a dispute over land already being used to build the billionaire’s Starbase complex near the border with Mexico.
Members of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s top oil and natural gas industry regulator, on Tuesday voted 3-0 to designate SpaceX’s Lone Star Mineral Development unit as the operator of inactive oil and natural gas wells on 24 acres being developed to support the billionaire’s rocket launch facility near the mouth of the Rio Grande.
Dallas Petroleum Group claimed ownership of the land and a pair of inactive wells sitting there following an October 2017 deal with Sanchez Energy, which sold the land to SpaceX subsidiary Dogleg Park LLC last year, filings show. Railroad Commission staff determined that Sanchez continued paying property taxes for the land while Dallas Petroleum Group did not attempt to do so until just before a January 2021 hearing for the dispute.
Matt Williams, president of Dallas Petroleum, said in an interview that the company plans to appeal the decision. Under state law, the privately held driller has a right to file a lawsuit to dispute the Railroad Commissioner’s decision.
A previous hearing in the case revealed that SpaceX plans to drill natural gas wells near the rocket launch site and use the methane it extracts “in connection with their rocket facility operations.” SpaceX also plans to build two natural gas-fired power plants and refrigeration equipment to make liquid methane, according to Federal Aviation Administration documents. When combined with liquid oxygen and other compounds, liquid methane can be used as rocket fuel.
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