Washington, D.C. — Two data collection tools specifically developed for hydraulic fracturing are available to help regulatory agencies monitor drilling and completion operations and enhance environmental protection.
Developed with support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE), the Risk Based Data Management System (RBDMS) and FracFocus chemical disclosure registry (http://fracfocus.org/) provide a way for industry professionals, regulatory agencies and the general public to more easily access information on oil and natural gas activities. These reporting and data collection tools have been developed by the Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC) and various states.
The RBDMS hydraulic fracturing module is used by state regulators to more efficiently track and analyze reports about well completions and fracturing, including the casing and cementing profiles, the quantity and quality of water used for fracturing wells, and the composition of fracturing fluids. It also provides the capability to link inspection and environmental monitoring data and compare the proximity of drilling areas to source-water-protection areas such as public water supply wells.
The State of Colorado currently uses a suite of RBDMS tools to electronically accept, process, and review drilling permits, completion reports and oil and gas locations assessments and to store environmental data (soil, water and air-quality) associated with hydraulic fracturing activities. The hydraulic fracturing module is also being developed for use by other states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Dakota, Indiana, New York, Arkansas, Utah, Mississippi, Idaho and Oklahoma, with testing scheduled for summer 2013.
The deployment of advanced data management technology facilitates efforts by states to both implement effective regulatory programs and to increase public access to regulatory information. Public users of the module will be able to select a well from a geographic information system (GIS) map to retrieve site-specific data such as the progress of a permit to drill, the chemical additives used at the well and any associated drinking-water monitoring data.
FE Financial support enabled GWPC to create the RBDMS in 1992 for oil and natural gas operators and state regulators; subsequent DOE funding has allowed the system to be continually updated and improved. Twenty-two states now use the RBDMS to manage oil and gas regulatory and water resources data and to provide important information to local governments, industry, and the public.
FracFocus is a national chemical registry that provides the public with information about the hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas wells. Created by GWPC and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), the online registry tracks well locations, operators, and hydraulic fracturing fluid composition.
Since its launch in April 2011, over 41,000 disclosures have been uploaded to FracFocus. The site also features an interactive map for users to find regulations related to groundwater protection and oil and natural gas development, along with contact information.
The states of Alaska, Utah, Ohio, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Montana, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania use FracFocus for required reports about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Local landowners can access useful data through FracFocus on wells in their vicinity and useful topics such as hydraulic fracturing operations, ground water quality, and state regulation.
DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) manages these activities for the Office of Fossil Energy. The GWPC is an organization of state officials dedicated to improving government’s role in the protection and conservation of groundwater.