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Risk Based Data Management System (RBDMS) and Cost Effective Regulatory Approaches (CERA) Related to Hydraulic Fracturing and Geologic Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
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The goal of this project is to enhance the 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 HF sections, as well as conduct additional state reviews.


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


The GWPC’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 CO2 and hydraulic fracturing within RBDMS.


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.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

As of October 27, 2016, the FracFoccous website contains 117,600 disclosures by 1,083 reporting companies. The website has been visited over 1.5 million times. The interagency agreement (IAA) between NETL and BLM was signed which will bring $100K of funding from BLM for the purpose of modifying FracFocus so that information on hydraulic fracturing activities on Federal lands can be reported when needed.

A recent California senate bill requires the tracking of water used and produced in the oil and gas industry. A final RBDMS water tracker module is scheduled to be released and implemented in California by late 2017. 

At a GWPC meeting, representatives from the State Oil and Gas Regulatory Exchange (SOGRE) presented the updated SOGRE Assessment/Consultation process and announced plans for consultations with Idaho and Virginia. An official team was designated for the Idaho assessment, and this team has begun writing a final report. SOGRE is awaiting a draft STRONGER review for Virginia before engaging with the state on responding to that report and planning next steps.

The GWPC has released the WellFinder app in both the iTunes and Google Play stores. The app identifies wells near a user’s location and can display a well’s identification information, type, status, operator contact information, and recent production with a link to detailed production history. The WellFinder can be an important tool for inspectors, emergency responders, and other users who must locate wells in their area.

As of February 3, 2016, the FracFocus website has recorded almost 110,000 disclosures from 1,337 companies, and website visits are over 1.3 million. The Gateway team has installed a beta version of the Gateway in the cloud for review. Water tracker is part of the California RBDMS web install. This is required under California SB 1281 and will track origin and disposition of water associated with oil and gas, drilling, hydraulic fracturing, produced water, and disposal. Phase 1 of water tracker will be installed as part of the first iteration of CA RBDMS web.

Needs assessments have been completed for Wyoming and Arkansas and begun for upgrading Oklahoma to the most recent version of eForms. FracFocus is nearing the final stages of development for version 3.0 with a focus on upgrades recommended by Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) and DOE/EIA. The additions to FracFocus 3.0 will include improvement of the accuracy of reported CAS numbers, a redesigned public search interface to improve functionality and ease of use, added flags to the system to allow operators to specify that a well is on Indian or Federal lands, and a more efficient process for amending records.

GWPC met with DOE and BLM staff to discuss upgrades to FracFocus so it can be used as the reporting tool for hydraulic fracturing activities on Federal and Indian lands. BLM has proposed a statement of work and funding for the 2-year effort. GWPC provided a demo of the newest version FracFocus 3.0, which is still being beta testing before its public release in spring 2016.

Web-enabled RBDMS is being developed so its availability could be expanded to any device with internet access. The water tracker module is being tested in Alabama with three state agencies involved. The upgrades are in progress and remain on schedule for Alabama, Arkansas, Utah, Wyoming, Michigan, and West Virginia. West Virginia becomes the 23rd state to use RBDMS for oil and gas activity management.

Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, and Oklahoma are regularly providing data to the National Oil and Gas Data Gateway (Gateway). The developing Gateway website allows users to select wells on an interstate basis by using the rectangle or polygon selection tools on the map interface. In Phase 2, there will also be possibility to select based on additional geographic features that are interstate in nature.

FracFocus stats as of October 23, 2015 - there have been over 106,000 well disclosures submitted from 974 reporting companies.

The FracFocus module upgrades performed include validation of Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers to assure that entries meet formatting requirements for a valid CAS number. The systems approach (listing of all ingredients without the specific recipe) will become the default entry format which should diminish the need for trade secret claims. When an entry is identified as a trade secret, confidential business information or other proprietary claim, the identity of the entity claiming the secrecy must be disclosed. Such entries will be tracked for statistics and trend analysis.


The GWPC 2015 Annual Forum was held September 27 – 30 in Oklahoma City, OK.  Topics of presentations included seismicity, water availability and sustainability, water and energy, FracFocus, and water reuse. Proceedings are available at

The 20th annual Underground Injection Control (UIC) Conference was held on February 9-11, 2015 with a record attendance of 260. Subjects of the meeting included induced seismicity from injection wells and produced water management. Presentations are available at 

The National Oil and Gas Data Gateway (Gateway) was developed so that users will be able to query a set of wells and view and download production information within a given period of time. Currently, the Gateway allows selection of wells based on state or U.S. Congressional District, well type, well status, or by map selection. In Phase 2, the Gateway will be linked directly to FracFocus database disclosures.


RBDMS was expanded to store, display, and query available FracFocus data elements, thereby enabling automated checking of operator compliance. The GWPC has been working with companies who submit hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosures to FracFocus on the implementation of the Systems Approach. The Systems Approach is the decoupling of trade names from individual ingredients on a chemical disclosure form. The goal of the Systems Approach is to reduce the claiming of chemical ingredient trade secrets on FracFocus submissions, wherever possible. New disclosure submission forms are being developed to simplify the process and will go live on FracFocus in 2015.


A draft report of the independent audit of FracFocus has been prepared, but is not yet available for release.  Findings include improving errors due to latitude/longitude entries on county/state boundaries and error reporting and tracking through the help desk. As of October 31, 2014, the FracFocus website contained over 85,000 well disclosures from 1,038 participating companies. Visits to the website have topped 1,000,000. 

Phase 2 of the Gateway made the Gateway more robust with more data and graphing capabilities. Currently, the states of Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas are pushing data to the Gateway and more states are providing sample data. The Gateway continues to be developed via the normalization of well types and well status across all states. The selection of wells or locations on a map will enable users to view a graph of production or summary data. The Gateway is scheduled for public release in March 2016 with planned monthly data updates.

The GWPC installed a beta version of an RBDMS link to the FracFocus website for the state of Colorado. The link will enable states to upload select data from FracFocus to their database systems. Currently, 15 states utilize FracFocus for regulatory reporting. 

GWPC worked with states to develop a plan for the Gateway, which will enable the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to electronically receive production and injection data. Priorities for the Gateway were discussed at the RBDMS spring training. Discussion topics included agency participation, reporting capabilities, and priority data fields.

Rules outlined by the Alabama State Oil and Gas Board require operators to publically disclose the hydraulic fracturing fluids used in coal bed and conventional onshore wells beginning on September 10, 2013. Alabama has become the thirteenth state to utilize FracFocus for the reporting of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing activities. To date, over 52,000 well disclosures have been uploaded to

The STRONGER Hydraulic Fracturing Workgroup considered comments received from the Environmental Protection Agency and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and sent the proposed revisions to the Board. The revised guidelines were sent to state oil and gas directors, the American Petroleum Institute Environmental and Hydraulic Fracturing Committees, the Independent Petroleum Association of America cooperating associations, and three environmental mailing lists. Six organizations provided comments, which were sent to the Hydraulic Fracturing Workgroup for consideration.

The RBDMS fall 2013 meeting was held November 12–14, 2013 in Arlington, VA and was devoted to RBDMS policy and development. Adam Sieminski, EIA Administrator, provided opening comments regarding the Gateway, and there were discussions with state attendees about RBDMS links to the Gateway.

The GWPC 2013 Annual Forum was held September 23–24, 2013 in St. Louis, MO. Session topics included induced seismicity by underground injection, water availability and sustainability, water and energy development, and FracFocus 2.0 training.

GWPC hosted the co-located 2013 Stray Gas Forum and 2013 Unconventional Oil and Gas Water Management Forum in Grapevine, TX, July 9–11, 2013. Attendees from state and federal agencies, local government, oil and gas companies and associations, and academia discussed such issues as emergency response, investigation, migration, and prevention of water contamination from stray gas in areas of natural gas development and the challenges of managing and protecting water resources in areas where development of unconventional oil and gas resources is rapidly expanding. Presentations from the conference are now available online at

The STRONGER review team met with the Pennsylvania Department of Oil and Gas Program management in Harrisburg, PA May 28-30, 2013, for a review of the state’s hydraulic fracturing rules and guidelines. The STRONGER stakeholder team reviewed the Pennsylvania oil and gas program and determined that the state’s program is well-managed and meeting program objectives. Pennsylvania was commended for its attention to radiation levels that may be associated with unconventional gas development. The results of Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulatory program review are now available at

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. The STRONGER air quality workgroup will develop a draft of new guidelines once the surveys are returned.

GWPC has updated the hydraulic fracturing chemical reporting website 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, BLM 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

A beta version of the RBDMS Well Finder smart phone app was 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 2013 was attended by 52 representatives from federal and state agencies. GWPC has published a white paper on Induced Seismicity:

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 ( [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[external site].

The RBDMS HF module has been incorporated into 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 ( [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 was 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 Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) central office and field staff.

The GWPC, with the Pennsylvania DEP, developed 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 developed 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 U.S. Department of Energy (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 CO2geo-sequestration. Proceedings from the symposia can be found at [external site].

Current Status

In addition to installing the RBDMS Electronic permitting and reporting module in states, the GWPC is upgrading this module with new technology, making it more user friendly and compatible with industry databases. The new module is being developed in conjunction with the California web enabled RBDMS 3.0 and will be compatible with existing RBDMS states.

The field inspection module has been beta tested in Michigan, Utah, and New York. Final release is expected in summer 2017.

State Training Annual RBDMS Spring Training was held from April 2 to 6, 2017 in Sarasota, Florida.

California has completed an alpha release of a web-enabled eForms 3.0 to be packaged with RBDMS/WellStar. eForms 3.0 will combine the current eForm application with FormBuilder and be upgraded to the new technology being developed in California.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL - Sandy Borek ( or 412-386-4533)
Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) - Paul Jehn ( or 208-892-1400)

Additional Information

Electronic Oil & Natural Gas Permitting Leads to Faster Process; Wins National Award - News Release September, 2011

GWPC Risk Based Data Management System website [external site]

January 2010 Kick-off Presentation [PDF-1.22]