API: DOE shale gas report ignored existing efforts

A US Department of Energy report suggesting there were deficiencies in shale gas development and production regulations did not recognize efforts already under way by federal and state regulators and the oil and gas industry, an American Petroleum Institute official charged on Aug. 17.

“Before you come out with a recommendation, we believe you need to do a baseline analysis of what’s already out there,” API Upstream Director Erik Milito said concerning the preliminary report issued Aug. 11 by the US Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s Shale Gas Subcommittee.

“The report itself has a gap because it does not provide a gap analysis. The subcommittee did not recognize what the states and industry are doing already,” Milito said.

One possible reason may be that while the subcommittee’s members included two people with backgrounds in hydraulic fracturing and other shale gas production technologies, there was no one with direct experience during the last 2 years when significant changes and improvements occurred, Milito told reporters during a teleconference.

The SEAB subcommittee’s report was not all bad, the API director added, saying, “It recognizes, up front, that shale gas can provide significant environmental and economic benefits. But it also says that shale gas development is occurring without recognizing significant enforcement programs that oil and gas producing states have put in place already; the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and other federal laws to which oil and gas operators already are subject; or standards development and other steps the industry has taken to improve operations.”

Milito continued, “We recognize the need to discuss impacts on local communities, and have reached out to county and local governments with a series of listening sessions to address concerns. Unfortunately, we have seen little recognition in this report of all that has been done already by industry and regulators.”

Milito said API will submit comments and documents as the SEAB subcommittee prepares its next report. “We’re out there meeting with state regulators to help provide training for their staffs,” he said. “We hope that these issues will be addressed over the next 90 days so that gaps can be identified and improvements proposed. Our concern is that a lot is going on in a lot of areas, and we need to determine where to focus our efforts.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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