Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


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Graduate Seminar: Dr. Mark Miller


Monday, February 09, 2015


03:00pm - 04:00pm


CPE 2.204


Dr. Mark Miller, Founder and CEO/CTO, Promethean Technologies Group, LLC, will give a talk entitled "Oil & Gas and the Texas Railroad Commission" as part of the Claude R. Hocott Graduate Seminar Series.


When it comes to the office of Texas Railroad Commissioner (where “railroad,” for historical reasons, is Texas slang for “oil and gas”), there’s no more important elected position in Texas — and perhaps the nation — that so few people seem to know or care about. Established in 1891 to regulate railroads, the Commission’s responsibilities subsequently evolved and expanded. Today the Commission’s nearly sole responsibility is the State’s oil and gas industry (railroad regulations are overseen by the Texas Transportation Commission).

The Railroad Commission has been garnering increased public and media attention. The State’s latest oil and gas boom, like those that came before it, has been a mixed blessing. Frenzied development created rapid economic growth, high-paying jobs, increased tax revenues, and wealth for mineral rights owners and industry investors. But shale development also resulted in an increasingly large number of wells with an expanding geographic footprint, impacting more and more Texans … and in increasing numbers, surface property owners without mineral rights. Public fear and apprehension are on the rise; leading to widespread concerns over water usage, groundwater contamination, air quality, damaged roads and even earthquakes.

Over many decades, the Commission has done a reasonable job of providing a regulatory framework that reconciles the interests of major oil companies, independent oil companies, pipeline operators, and mineral rights owners. Public concern over shale development, however, is now bringing increased scrutiny to a state agency whose role has historically been “inside baseball”. From its misleading name to its traditional role as industry champion to campaign donations from industry insiders, much of the public is coming to distrust an agency so important to Texas and to its oil and gas industry.

In 2014, Dr. Mark Miller was the Libertarian Party candidate for Texas Railroad Commissioner. He will reflect upon his views of the Commission, as well as his experiences and insights from the campaign.


Mark Miller has over 42 years’ experience as a petroleum engineering practitioner and educator, specializing in reservoir engineering, reservoir simulation, thermal oil recovery, and the reservoir engineering aspects of natural gas, naturally-fractured, and shale reservoirs. After working for Getty Oil Company in a variety of petroleum engineering capacities, Dr. Miller earned a PhD in Petroleum Engineering from Stanford U. Dr. Miller subsequently served on the petroleum engineering faculty of The U. of Texas at Austin until establishing a consulting practice in 2001. From 2002 to 2006, and again in 2012, he worked for Object Reservoir. In 2012, Dr. Miller co-founded Promethean Technologies Group, LLC. He currently serves as its CEO and CTO. In 2014 he was Libertarian Party candidate for Texas Railroad Commissioner.