FracFocus registry to be more accessible, Senate committee told

FracFocus, the online registry of chemicals and other hydraulic fracturing ingredients, will become easier to use when its new version goes into operation on June 1, a witness said during the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s final natural gas forum.

Data will be submitted as XML instead of PDF documents, making it easier to aggregate and customize, Stan Belieu, deputy director of Nebraska’s Oil and Gas Conservation, said in testimony on behalf of FracFocus’s developers, the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission and the Groundwater Protection Council.

Users also will be able retrieve information by a chemical’s name, its Chemical Abstracts Service number, date range, and other new public search features, Belieu said. FracFocus already has more than 45,000 well records from more than 400 companies, and is required in 12 states with 8 more expected to join, he noted.

IOGCC and GWPC also are working on a Risk Based Data Management System, which will assist 23 oil and gas regulatory programs, Belieu said. It eventually will be integrated with FracFocus, he added.

In addition to its permitting, reporting, and data mining features, RBDMS’s new features will include a water life-cycle tracker, a component to manage air and water sampling, a feature facilitating iPad and smart phone field inspections, and a national oil and gas data gateway to the US Energy Information Administration, he indicated.

“We view this as a continuing project,” Belieu said. “We’re going to look at underground injection control issues, carbon capture and storage, and enhanced oil recovery. We’ll continue to improve FracFocus so it will continue to meet information needs. We’ll continue to look at emerging technologies and work with NGOs and universities.”

Verification necessary

Witnesses from environmental organizations acknowledged the new features would improve FracFocus, but added they would not mean much without ways for landowners and communities to verify the data’s accuracy.

“The improvements that are about to be made to FracFocus will be a significant help to states,” said Mark Brownstein, associate vice-president and chief counsel in the Environmental Defense Foundation’s US Climate and Energy Program.

“Searchability of information, in conjunction with these risk management systems, can improve regulatory results,” he continued. “But the next important step is to provide ways for individuals and communities to use this information.”

Amy Mall, a senior policy analyst in the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Land and Wildlife Program, said, “The problem with FracFocus is that it’s not a government web site with specific requirements and a legitimate process to determine what actually is a trade secret. A recent Harvard study found some companies are claiming trade secrets in one state and disclosing the information in others. It’s only part of a solution.”

Deb Nardone, who directs the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas Campaign, added, “States need to have the opportunity to verify all data. But the issue is that FracFocus still isn’t a public entity and subject to all the necessary requirements. There’s no assurance it will still be in operation 20 years from now.” Information also needs to become available before a frac operation begins, she added.

Belieu challenged Mall and Nardone’s assertions that FracFocus is privately operated. “States are government,” he observed. “We’re in complete control of this data, and hold those who submit it accountable.”

No problem with audits

Oil and gas industry witnesses said they would not have problems with the information they submitted being audited. “The states own the data their regulations require us to submit,” noted XTO Energy Inc. Pres. Jack Williams. “An audit system would be good.”

Charles Davidson, Noble Energy Inc. chief executive, said, “As a public company, we already rely on audits to verify data we submit. I really applaud what FracFocus has done. A few years ago, we didn’t have a disclosure mechanism to answer questions about what’s being pumped into a well. I also applaud the enhancement which will make it more searchable and accessible.”

Clay Bretches, Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s vice-president of exploration and production services and minerals, said, “It also makes sense to manage the timing of the submissions to the states. Federal funding also would bolster the organization’s ability to manage the data well.”

Alan Crain, a senior vice-president and chief legal and governance officer at Baker Hughes Inc., said the Houston oil field service and supply company was one of FracFocus’s earliest and strongest supporters.

“We designed an automated disclosure system that allows our customers to comply with any state disclosure rule or make voluntary disclosures in a format that does not jeopardize our and our suppliers’ proprietary information,” he told the committee.

“This process ensures that employees, government, the public and emergency responders all have ready access to important chemical information.”

But it’s essential that companies not be forced to make proprietary information public, according to Marc Edwards, Halliburton Co.’s senior vice-president of completion and production. “Halliburton has the only frac fluid that is sourced entirely from the food industry,” he told the committee. “Without proprietary protection, it would not have invested in its development.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

BIS lists six considerations for condensate as a potential export

01/02/2015 The US Bureau of Industry and Security listed six considerations it will use to help determine whether US-produced crude oil condensate is a petrol...

Keystone XL looms large as 114th Congress prepares to meet

01/02/2015 The US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee scheduled a hearing for Jan. 7 on legislation to approve the proposed Keystone XL crude oil pi...

American Eagle suspends oil drilling in Bakken for 2015

01/02/2015 American Eagle Energy Corp., Denver, has suspended its 2015 drilling budget and does not anticipate resuming drilling operations until crude oil pr...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures end 2014 below $54/bbl

01/02/2015 The slump in oil prices worldwide continued on the last trading day of 2014 with US light, sweet crude closing at less than $54/bbl on the New York...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures move up slightly awaiting inventory

12/31/2014 Crude oil prices on the New York market rose modestly on Dec. 30 awaiting the weekly US government report on crude oil and product supplies. Prices...

Williams postpones Geismar ethylene sales

12/31/2014 Williams Partners LP once again has postponed sales of ethylene production from its newly rebuilt Geismar, La., olefins plant amid ongoing efforts ...

Gazprom buys South Stream shares from partners

12/30/2014 OAO Gazprom has purchased shares in South Stream Transport BV from Italy’s Eni SPA 20%, Germany’s Wintershall AG 15%, and France’s EDF Energy 15%. ...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX crude oil futures fall again, down 50% since June

12/30/2014 Crude oil prices on the New York market settled down by more than a $1/bbl on Dec. 29, reaching the lowest value since May 1, 2009, and analysts ex...

Trinidad and Tobago to develop ‘master plan’ for gas development

12/29/2014 Trinidad and Tobago’s government has hired UK-based consulting firm Poten & Partners to develop a natural gas master plan for the Caribbean twi...

White Papers

Available Webcasts



The Future of US Refining

When Fri, Feb 6, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s Feb. 6, 2015, webcast will focus on the future of US refining as various forces this year conspire to pull the industry in different directions. Lower oil prices generally reduce feedstock costs, but they have also lowered refiners’ returns, as 2015 begins with refined products priced at lows not seen in years. If lower per-barrel crude prices dampen production of lighter crudes among shale plays, what will happen to refiners’ plans to export more barrels of lighter crudes? And as always, refiners will be affected by government regulations, particularly those that suppress demand, increase costs, or limit access to markets or supply.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Oil & Gas Journal’s Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015

Fri, Jan 30, 2015

The  Forecast & Review/Worldwide Pipeline Construction 2015 Webcast will address Oil & Gas Journal’s outlooks for the oil market and pipeline construction in a year of turbulence. Based on two annual special reports, the webcast will be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and OGJ Managing Editor-Technology Chris Smith.
The Forecast & Review portion of the webcast will identify forces underlying the collapse in crude oil prices and assess prospects for changes essential to recovery—all in the context of geopolitical pressures buffeting the market.

register:WEBCAST


Optimizing your asset management practices to mitigate the effects of a down market

Thu, Dec 11, 2014

The oil and gas market is in constant flux, and as the price of BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) goes down it is increasingly important to optimize your asset management strategy to stay afloat.  Attend this webinar to learn how developing a solid asset management plan can help your company mitigate costs in any market.

register:WEBCAST


Parylene Conformal Coatings for the Oil & Gas Industry

Thu, Nov 20, 2014

In this concise 30-minute webinar, participants have an opportunity to learn more about how Parylene coatings are applied, their features, and the value they add to devices and components.

register:WEBCAST


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