Exploration and Production Technologies

Risk Based Data Management System (RBDMS) and Cost Effective Regulatory Approaches (CERA) Related to Hydraulic Fracturing and Geologic Sequestration of CO2

Last Reviewed 6/25/2013


The goal of this project is to enhance the Risk Based Data Management System (RBDMS) by adding new components relevant to environmental topics associated with hydraulic fracturing (HF), and by management of myriad data regarding oil and natural gas well histories, brine disposal, production, enhanced recovery, reporting, stripper wells, and other operations to enhance the protection of ground water resources. The FracFocus website will be maintained to ensure transparent reporting of HF additives. A regulatory and data needs assessment for CO2 geosequestration will also be developed. The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) will be involved in reviewing and updating STRONGER (State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Regulations) guidelines, with a focus on expanding them to include air quality and address additional issues in the hydraulic fracturing sections, as well as conduct additional state reviews.

Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), Oklahoma City, OK 73142-3019

The Ground Water Protection Council’s RBDMS program is now an integral tool used in 22 oil and natural gas producing states to manage oil and gas activities and evaluate the risk to source water posed by operations. The relationship between the availability of water and the development and use of energy point to the need for better strategies to ensure that both resources will remain available even as their demand increases substantially in the coming years. The implementation of resource management processes and programs will be critical for ensuring the continued viability of water and energy resources. Today, there exists a critical mass of water quality (and quantity) data to allow an order of magnitude increase with regard to modeling alternatives for water management. GWPC will develop a Web-based GIS model to assess water management options using existing and enhanced RBDMS analytical capabilities.

RBDMS will be enhanced to allow more efficient data transfer (performance, speed, reliability, and security) between state agencies and industry operators. The system will be installed in Pennsylvania and updates will be conducted in Oklahoma and Illinois. Electronic reporting and permitting applications will allow oil and natural gas operators to report production and underground injection data directly to state agencies and automate portions of the oil and natural gas well permitting process. These applications will be installed or enhanced in Colorado, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. Through existing and enhanced RBDMS analytical capabilities, GWPC will develop a Web-based GIS model to assess water management options in Ohio. GWPC will aid STRONGER, Inc. to identify interested states and subsequently perform reviews of oil and gas waste management programs and/or reviews focused on hydraulic fracturing-related regulations Finally, GWPC will conduct a needs assessment of the functionality required to incorporate regulatory aspects related to geo-sequestration of carbon dioxide and hydraulic fracturing within RBDMS.

Potential Impacts
The results of this project will enhance the RBDMS to allow more efficient data transfer (performance, speed, reliability, and security) between state agencies and industry operators. The resulting HF module will be a valuable decision-making aid to assess the potential impacts of HF on the environment and determine whether contamination incidents result from HF or other activities. Its uses also will extend to assisting with future review of proposals for downspacing, reduced setbacks, or infill drilling in shale production units.

The Mississippi Oil and Gas Board updated Rule 26 in 2012 to include a provision for operators to disclose hydraulic fracturing chemical usage on the FracFocus website (http://www.fracfocus.org [external site]). The Utah Oil, Gas, and Mining Board approved a new rule on October 24, 2012, that requires companies to disclose hydraulic fracturing chemical usage on the FracFocus website. A beta version of FracFocus 2.0 [external site] went online on November 1, 2012, and will run alongside FracFocus 1.0 as users transition to the new system.

Presentations from the 2012 Stray Gas Incidence and Response Forum and the GWPC White Paper on stray gas are available at http://www.gwpc.org/events/gwpc-proceedings/2012-stray-gas-incidence-response-forum[external site].

The RBDMS HF module has been incorporated into RBDMS.net and electronic commerce (eforms) modules. Nebraska, North Dakota, Colorado, Arkansas, and New York have all incorporated portions of the HF module into their existing RBDMS programs.

The following states have either adopted FracFocus or are working on legislation or rules to adopt it: Montana, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, California, and Ohio. In addition to these states, several other states have expressed an interest in using FracFocus for state reporting needs, including Alaska, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Utah, and West Virginia.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has passed a rule that outlines the use of the FracFocus website (http://www.fracfocus.org [external site]) for reporting hydraulic fracturing chemicals. Oklahoma joins Texas, Colorado, Montana, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania in the use of FracFocus for chemical reporting. Since its launch in April 2011, the FracFocus website has attracted 230 participating companies. Over 14,700 well records have been uploaded and the site has recorded over 200,000 visits. The GWPC has developed an online webinar to train companies in the use of FracFocus.

RBDMS Water is being updated and installed to implement the Colorado Oil & Gas Association’s (COGA) voluntary baseline groundwater quality sampling program. COGA reports 90 percent sign-up for participation in the RBDMS water program that includes most of the 15 major operators in the state. The Colorado Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) estimates that 3,100 new wells will be drilled in 2012. RBDMS Water will be ready to accept well data in June 2012. The RBDMS training manual for Oklahoma has been completed and an eForms webinar was presented to the Pennsylvania DEP central office and field staff.

The GWPC is in discussions with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to develop an electronic reporting system for chemical use associated with Marcellus shale gas development. The Pennsylvania legislature is considering regulations that would require companies to disclose to the state any chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations.

The GWPC continues development of the HF module programming for implementation in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Colorado. The HF module will receive updates as HF tracking requirements are outlined. The CO2 geo-sequestration needs assessment document will be revised and finalized based on stakeholders' comments. Electronic reporting of completion reports is being tested in Colorado. Electronic permitting will be extended to other states. An initial assessment has been made in regard to Pennsylvania’s needs for RBDMS Water applications.

The Council of State Governments has presented the Innovation Award for Natural Resources to the Colorado Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) for the eForm permitting system. The Colorado eForms system was developed by the COGCC and the GWPC with DOE funding and its implementation has reduced permit processing time by allowing oil and gas operators to complete regulatory forms online. The permitting process has been streamlined to allow regulatory agencies to simultaneously review permits and the public to view and comment on applications. The eForm system is also utilized in Nebraska and Alabama and is being considered for implementation in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Montana.

GWPC hosts an annual Water/Energy Symposium, which focuses on the synergistic relationship between water usage and energy development. Recent topics of interest include water use for hydraulic fracturing and CO2 geo-sequestration. Proceedings from the symposia can be found at http://www.gwpc.org/resources [external site].

Current Status (June 2013) 
Work continues on the FracFocus 2.0 project to upgrade the system with added search, records management, and data enhancement features. The establishment of bi-directional data flow between the FracFocus system and state data systems will begin in 2013. GWPC has formed a stakeholder workgroup in order to collaborate with the STRONGER Board to update hydraulic fracturing guidelines for state regulatory programs. Air quality guideline surveys have been sent to 35 states that have oil or gas production programs. Once the surveys are returned, the STRONGER air quality workgroup will develop a draft of new guidelines.

GWPC has updated the hydraulic fracturing chemical reporting website http://www.fracfocus.org [external site] to version 2.0, which includes a database with increased search capabilities. Users will be able to search for records of wells fractured over a range of dates or wells that utilize specific chemicals during production. The website will allow states to download data from FracFocus and import it into their own database systems for regulatory reporting. As of May 2013, over 40,000 well disclosures have been uploaded into FracFocus. GWPC has started the preliminary transfer of data between FracFocus and RBDMS. The system will be designed so states can either receive transfer of data between the systems or just notifications of newly entered data.

At the 2013 Underground Injection Control (UIC) Conference, the GWPC Board of Directors resolved to recommend to the U.S. Department of Interior, Bureau of Land Management that they adopt FracFocus as the official means of disclosing chemicals used on federal land during hydraulic fracturing activities. The Board also discussed the status of RBDMS in the states and the states’ needs for reporting hydraulic fracturing chemicals. Proceedings can be found at http://www.gwpc.org/events/gwpc-proceedings/2013-uic-conference [external site].

GWPC has announced a call for abstracts for two events that will be held in Dallas, TX, July 9–11, 2013. The Stray Gas Incidence & Response Forum invites regulatory officials and the oil and gas industry to discuss improvements to response protocols during stray gas incidents. The Unconventional Oil & Gas Water Management Forum will focus on the status of current regulations and the potential risks and challenges associated with safe-guarding and managing water resources in areas of rapidly expanding shale gas development. Information is available at http://www.gwpc.org/events [external site].

A beta version of the RBDMS well finder smart phone app is now being tested in New York. Nebraska is testing the new RBDMS field inspection module, which allows inspectors to use iPads, android tablets, and smart phones for field inspections. The RBDMS field inspection utility tablet application has been outlined to include additional hydraulic fracturing field information. The RBDMS workshop held in April was attended by 52 representatives from federal and state agencies.GWPC has published a white paper on Induced Seismicity [external site].

Project Start: October 1, 2009
Project End: September 30, 2014

DOE Contribution: $5,960,896 
Performer Contribution: $1,509,474

Contact Information:
NETL - Sandy McSurdy (sandra.mcsurdy@netl.doe.gov or 412-386-4533)
Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) - Paul Jehn (pauljehn@roadrunner.com or 208-892-1400)
If you are unable to reach the above personnel, please contact the content manager.

Additional Information:

GWPC Risk Based Data Management System website [external site]

January 2010 Kick-off Presentation [PDF-1.22]

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