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Digital Map Information GIS Data

I don’t have any GIS software. Where can I get information?

Since the Railroad Commission exports all data to .SHP formats, your primary concern, in regard to using RRC digital map data, is to get a GIS software package capable of importing and using .SHP files.

Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) developed the .SHP file format for use in its ArcView GIS software. The file format is recognized and accepted industry-wide and is easily imported and used in many GIS and CAD software packages.

The Texas Railroad Commission makes no recommendation regarding the use of GIS. RRC digital data customers who intend to use RRC digital data with software other than ArcView or ArcInfo are responsible for investigating and confirming to their own satisfaction that their specific software supports the full importation and use of .SHP graphics and database files.

Information about many different popular GIS software packages is available on the Internet. At an Internet search engine site, type in "GIS" and "software" and "vendors" In return, you will get the Internet addresses for many different GIS software vendors.

Your best source for information about ArcGIS and ArcInfo software is ESRI, the company that produces the software. Their Internet web address is:

In addition to getting information about ArcGIS and/or ArcInfo, you may want to investigate ESRI’s free, downloadable software called ArcGIS Explorer. ArcGIS Explorer’s capabilities are limited compared to ArcGIS and ArcInfo, but it is available at no cost and may facilitate your introduction to GIS

I want to make sure I’m buying data for the right areas. I also want to make sure RRC GIS data will give me what I’m looking for. Is there any way I can preview the data before I buy?

You can preview digital graphics data at the Railroad Commission offices in Austin. Go to the Central Records’ Customer Assistance Desk on the 10th Floor, Room 10-100, of the William B. Travis Bldg. at 1701 N. Congress St. and RRC personnel will be happy to help you.

Users should be aware that RRC personnel may have access to database attribute information not included with the GIS exports. Users should not expect to receive additional attribute data they are either shown or told about while at the Commission. All exported RRC GIS data layer attributes are defined and explained in the RRC "Digital Map Manual".

Many RRC basemap features are from USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles. Users should note that RRC basemap data digitized from a particular USGS quadrangle will be only as up-to-date and complete as that specific USGS quadrangle. For example, the Galveston Quadrangle map was released by the USGS in 1974. Therefore, current RRC basemap features within the Galveston Quadrangle area reflect conditions as they were depicted by the USGS in 1974.

RRC GIS data not dependent on USGS 7.5 minute quadrangles -- such as surveys, wells and pipelines – are, of course, constantly revised and updated.

What format does the data come in? Is it one huge file or lots of smaller files? Are all the data layers lumped together? Do I have to separate data layers?

You will receive one file for each county or quadrangle you order. This file, after it is uncompressed and unarchived, will contain all of the county’s data layers in discrete files.

That is to say, if you order a county’s basemap data, the airport data will be in its own file; the cemetery data will be in its own file; the city data will be in its own file …. Likewise, well data – well arcs and utility, bottom and surface wells -- are packaged in four distinct files. Since all available map data layers arrive in their own files, you do not have to separate out any data.

Consult the data manual for naming conventions and a discussion on uncompressing and unarchiving.

Am I able to edit RRC GIS files?

Yes, you can edit -- add to, delete from, move within, etc. -- all map data the Commission sells. Refer to your GIS software's "Help" for editing data.

I’m able to load and view my own GIS data but when I try to add RRC GIS data, none of it shows up on my monitor.

Your GIS data and the RRC GIS data are probably in different projections. All Railroad Commission map data is latitude/longitude. The specific parameters are:

Projection:       Geographic
Units:               Decimal Degrees
Datum:             NAD27

For more information about projections, look in your GIS software's "Help" on projections.

I’ve loaded my shape files in ArcView, I’ve turned on all the layers and I don’t see any text or labels. Why not?

You’re probably expecting to see what ESRI refers to as, "annotation." Unfortunately, at this time, ArcGIS does not support annotation and therefore, no default text appears on the map. You can, however, create labels from point, line and polygon attributes. Look in the RRC "Digital Map Manual" for point, line and polygon attributes. For more information on labeling, look in the ArcGIS Help under "labeling."

I recently purchased GIS well data and an API Data File for an area. There is a discrepancy between the number of points in the GIS well file and the number of records in the API Data File. Why?

First, make sure you are looking at all wells in the county or quadrangle. A county or a quadrangle can have up to three different well files:

  1. Surface well locations: Well locations on the face of the earth. A well is said to originate at a surface location;
  2. Bottom well locations: Well locations in the depths of the earth. A bottom well location provides no information about well depth so, for vertical wells, the bottom well location and the surface well location are exactly the same. Horizontal and directional wells can have several well bottom locations. Product(s) are drawn from well bottoms. A well is said to terminate at well bottom(s);

Second, yes, there may be nominally more well location points in your GIS than records in your API Data File. This is because while all API numbers are attached to wells, not all wells have API numbers. Wells that do not have API numbers in your GIS system will not appear in the API Data File. The Railroad Commission continues to research and assign API numbers to wells lacking API numbers.

Can I use the RRC GIS data to create plats for P-12 and P-15 submittals?

Yes, but since RRC survey data provides only Original Texas Land Survey arcs, you are responsible for adding any and all land ownership lines, lease lines and any and all other line(s) and/or feature(s) required for the submittal.

I want to print the maps I make in ArcGIS. Do I need a special printer or plotter?

ArcGIS does not require special printers/plotters. Of course, whatever printer or plotter you use must be configured to:

1. accept ArcGIS plot files and
2. output plots that meet your specific or unique plotting needs.

The Railroad Commission neither encourages nor discourages the use of particular printers or plotters. Printer and plotter manufacturers and ArcGIS documentation are your best source for information about their products. Printers and plotters are configured using information from the printer/plotter manufacturer and ArcView and/or ArcInfo documentation.

Free downloadable User Manuals available online (includes data format and dictionary):

  • "Digital Map Information", publication OGA094
  • "API Well Data File", publication OGA096 

Note: The digital data was generated from the Geographic Information System of the Railroad Commission of Texas. Base map information was obtained directly from U.S. Geological Survey 7.5 minute quadrangle maps. Patent Survey lines from Texas General Land Office maps were interpreted as accurately as possible over the US Geological Survey base. Oil and gas well data or pipeline data (if included) was obtained from public records at the Railroad Commission. The information provided by this system is being continually updated and refined. The data is intended solely for the internal use of the Railroad Commission, which makes no claim as to its accuracy or completeness.