Hydraulic Fracturing Disclosure Becomes the Law in Texas

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Posted by Neno Duplan

Texas is now the first state with a law requiring upstream oil companies to publicly disclose the chemicals they use when extracting oil and gas from dense shale formations.
The natural-gas industry, bowing to longtime pressure, will disclose more information about the chemicals it uses for hydraulic fracturing.

Several other state agencies have regulations forcing some disclosure, but none have made it law. Texas’ law will force oil and gas companies to post the chemicals and the amounts used beginning in July 2012.

The relatively new drilling method for natural gas extraction—known as high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking—carries significant environmental risks. It involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressure to break up rock formations and release gas deposits. Anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of the water sent down the well during hydrofracking returns to the surface, carrying drilling chemicals, very high levels of salts and, at times, naturally occurring radioactive material. The issue has taken on national importance as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is used in more states to extract once out-of-reach hydrocarbons from impermeable shale formations.

Locus designed its Environmental Information Management (EIM) software specifically to meet the hydro fracturing industry’s needs for managing subsurface and water quality data.
Locus expanded our software offerings to manage and visualize water, waste, wastewater, drilling fluids, radionuclides and air emissions more effectively online. With Texas law in place and other states probably to follow soon, Locus felt that the market needed an off-the-shelf tool to manage hydrofracking data. Locus’s software provides any natural gas production site that has a need for data management and reporting—and almost all have—the necessary functionality to meet these requirements.

Environmental groups worry the chemicals could contaminate aquifers and water supplies while the industry says the process is safe. There is only one way to prove it and that is to disclose data. And that is what Texas law will require. The Texas law will require companies to make public the chemicals they use on every hydraulic fracturing job in the state. Texas law is significant because oil and gas drilling is a key industry in the state and the industry vocally supported the measure.

Earlier this year many big gas producers said they would begin voluntarily publicizing the chemicals online at FracFocus.org. The site states that groundwater protection is the “Priority Number One”. Oil and natural gas producers have stringent requirements for how wells must be completed to protect groundwater. The genesis of these requirements is water safety. Casing is the first line of defense used to protect freshwater aquifers. Locus’ EIM database stores groundwater chemistry information for over 400,000 groundwater monitoring wells that can be easily screened online for contaminants of concern and prove the case that hydrofracking is safe when used properly.

The hydrofracking industry has been in the spotlight in recent months and Locus wanted to provide this sector with a tool to prove its case to the public and regulators that natural gas production using hydrofracking can be done safely and transparently without jeopardizing drinking water supplies.

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