API issues second of four planned hydraulic fracturing guidelines

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 2 -- The American Petroleum Institute published a new guidance document outlining industry best-practices for properly drilling and cementing wells that are being hydraulically fractured.

The well construction and integrity guideline is designed to ensure that shallow groundwater aquifers and the environment are protected through a well’s drilling, completion, and production phases, API said on Nov. 2. It was the second of four documents that API’s standards and practices department has been developing to address hydraulic fracing’s increasing role in US energy options.

API published a guidance document on hydraulic fracing environmental and reclamation practices in August, it noted. The final two documents that are being developed will address cradle-to-grave water-handling practices and surface environmental considerations.

The newest guidance document is intended to provide producers and state regulators a framework for well construction that will supplement state regulations already in place or being developed, API said. The trade association has published industry standards since the 1920s and continually updates them to provide guidance and highlight industry-recommended best practices on a number of topics, it pointed out.

More than 1 million wells have been drilled in the US using hydraulic fracing over the past 60 years, according to API. As geographical formations being drilled become more complicated, hydraulic fracing will be used even more, especially for natural gas, it said, citing a 2006 government-industry report that found 60-80% of gas wells drilled in the next decade will require the technology.

“Natural gas has the potential to serve as an important bridge to our nation’s energy future, but we need hydraulic fracturing to develop this gas,” said Doug Morris, API upstream director. “Hydraulic fracturing is a safe and proven technology that is critical to developing the natural gas needed to heat homes, generate electricity, and create basic materials for fertilizers and plastics. This guidance document helps supplement and support existing state regulations to ensure that development of our nation’s abundant natural gas resources is safe and effective.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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