Environmental Protection

New website helps the public understand what chemicals are being used in hydrofracturing.

Council and Compact Launch Fracfocus.org for Chemical Data

The Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission unveiled the nation’s first single-source website disclosing additives used in hydraulic fracturing on a well-by-well basis.

The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), with funding support from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), unveiled a landmark Web-based national registry, www.FracFocus.org, that discloses the chemical additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process on a well-by-well basis.

The information covers wells drilled starting in 2011. The initiative provides energy companies involved in oil and gas exploration and production a single-source means to publically disclose the chemical additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Used in the development of deep shale horizontal wells, hydraulic fracturing fluid is a mixture of water and sand with a small amount of chemical additives to enhance the production of hydrocarbons from otherwise inaccessible oil and gas reserves deep below the earth’s surface. Water and sand generally comprise approximately 98 percent of hydraulic fracturing fluid volume. The fracturing fluid is pumped at high pressure underground to create small cracks, or fractures, releasing the trapped oil and gas from rock formations allowing it to flow through the wellbore to the surface where it is captured. The process, which has been the subject of a number of state regulatory initiatives, public interest, and an ongoing study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is overseen by regulatory professionals at the state level. More than 90 percent of the wells drilled in the United States use the hydraulic fracturing process.

The new website features an easy-to-use interface that gives the public and regulators access to comprehensive information about hydraulically fractured wells nationwide. Searchable fields allow users to identify wells by location, operator, state and county, as well as a standard well identification number, known as an API number. The site also contains general information on the hydraulic fracturing process, water protection programs, descriptions of the chemicals used and their function in the process, and the Chemical Abstract Services registry number of each additive. A “Frequently Asked Questions” section also is included. The site also features information on private water wells, outlining steps landowners can take to learn more about operating and maintaining their water wells.

Participating energy companies voluntarily upload information about the chemical additives and the proportion used in each hydraulic fracturing job using a standard template. As of the launch, 24 energy companies are participating in the project. In addition, several state regulators are actively encouraging energy companies to disclose information through the national chemical registry.

“For the past six months, our two organizations have been working together to build this first-of-its-kind Web-based national chemical registry,” said Mike Paque, GWPC executive director. “As more and more questions were asked about the hydraulic fracturing process the past couple of years – particularly relating to chemical additives used in the process – we recognized an obstacle to greater disclosure was the lack of a uniform and efficient way to collect, report, and ensure public access. Information about additives used in the process was widely distributed, but difficult to access.”

“States have regulated the hydraulic fracturing process for more than half a century,” said Mike Smith, IOGCC executive director. “Until now, regulators and the public had no single site where they could easily access useful information on hydraulic fracturing and the additives used in the process. Our organizations have a responsibility to keep the public informed. We see this site as a step forward, and we expect it will evolve even more in the future.”

List of Participating Energy Companies
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation
Apache Corporation,
BP America Production Company
Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation
Chesapeake Energy Corporation.
Chief Oil & Gas LLC
ConocoPhillips Company
Devon Energy
El Paso E&P Company
EOG Resources, Incorporated
EQT Production
High Mountain Exploration & Production LLC
Marathon Oil Corporation
Newfield Exploration Company
Pioneer Natural Resources
Plains Exploration & Production Company
QEP Resources, Inc.
Seneca Resources Corporation
Shell Exploration and Production Company
SM Energy
Southwestern Energy Production Company
Talisman Energy USA Incorporated
Williams
XTO Energy / ExxonMobil

The IOGCC is an organization that represents the governors of more than 30 oil and gas producing states. Its mission is to conserve domestic oil and gas resources while ensuring environmental protection. The GWPC is an organization composed of state water and underground injection control agencies unified by a mission to protect and conserve groundwater as a critical component of the ecosystem.

Source: IOGCC

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