Flexibility in fracing reg seen still an open question

Increased flexibility for operators remains an open question in a revised proposal for federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing, according to a May 23 legal update by Roger W. Patrick of the law firm Mayer Brown.

“Many features of the revised proposal purport to give industry more flexibility,” Patrick said of the May 16 supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking by the Bureau of Land Management (OGJ Online, May 17, 2013). “The proof of that pudding will lie in the final version, the resources allocated to its implementation, and its application in the field (including coordination with other requirements such as the National Environmental Policy Act).”

The BLM still would be adding “its own layer of requirements to state and tribal regulations to address a risk that BLM itself terms ‘largely unknown’ and to realize benefits that are challenging to quantify,” Patrick said.

BLM received more than 177,000 comments on its original proposal and decided to issue a new draft instead of proceeding to a final rule.

Key changes

Here, according to Patrick, are some of the key changes:

• The BLM is narrowing the scope of the proposed rule to focus on hydraulic fracturing, not other “well stimulation” activities such as acidizing.

• The definition of “usable water” expressly lists zones that are deemed included and deemed excluded.

• The revised proposal would require a hydraulic fracturing application to include the estimated fracture direction, length, and height, including the fracture propagation plotted on a map. Fracture direction similarly would be included in the post-completion report.

• Operators would be able to show usable water zones are isolated by running a cement evaluation log (CEL), which may include any of a class of tools such as ultrasonic imagers, variable density logs, and microseismograms as well as cement bond logs (CBLs). The CEL would be submitted to BLM after fracturing, unless problems are identified. Under the initial proposal, the BLM would have required submittal of a CBL for approval prior to fracturing.

• Originally, the BLM would have required a CBL on each casing in a hydraulically fractured well that protects usable water. The revised proposal would give operators the option of running a CEL on a “type well” that would be used as a model for completions in a field with similar geology.

• Any indication of inadequate cementing would need to be reported to the BLM within 24 hr, with written confirmation within 48 hr.

• Chemical information could be reported directly to the BLM or through the FracFocus.org website.

• For trade secrets, the BLM modeled the revised proposal on Colorado’s procedures. Operators would be able to submit an affidavit to establish that certain information, including identities of the chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids and their maximum concentrations, is exempt from disclosure. Such information would be submitted to the BLM only at the bureau’s request.

• The revised proposal contains a procedure for operators to request a variance, which could be field-wide, basin-wide, or statewide. Further, the BLM plans to enter formal agreements with states and tribes to minimize duplicative agency efforts.

Other elements

BLM is retaining the right to request additional information during the approval process—on the grounds that it provides flexibility to regulate operations “over a broad range of geologic and environmental conditions,” Patrick said.

Mechanical integrity tests (MITs) still would be performed prior to fracturing. As in the original proposal, flowback fluids would be managed in tanks or lined pits; however, the BLM is reserving authority to require other protective measures.

For now, the bureau is rejecting several enhancements that requested in comments. For example, the revised proposal does not require baseline water testing or up-front disclosure of specific chemicals proposed for fracturing. Nor does it expressly include leak detection or double liners for impoundments, although the bureau is requesting comments on those potential additions.

BLM is accepting comments on the entire revised proposal. The comment deadline is likely to be 30 days after the proposal appears in the Federal Register. More time is a possibility; Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) have jointly asked for a 120-day comment period.

Related Articles

PHMSA proposes pipeline accident notification regulations

07/02/2015 The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has proposed new federal oil and gas pipeline accident and notification regulations. ...

BHI: US oil rig count rises for first time in 30 weeks

07/02/2015 A sudden 12-unit jump in oil-directed rigs during the abbreviated week ended July 2 represented their first rise since Dec. 5, 2014, and helped lif...

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

Shell makes FID on Appomattox deepwater development in Gulf of Mexico

07/01/2015 Royal Dutch Shell PLC has taken a final investment decision (FID) on the Appomattox deepwater development, authorizing construction and installatio...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts

On Demand

OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected