Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Time to Speak on Texas Frack Rule Is Now

A proposed rule in Texas to require public disclosure of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluid contents was approved for publication Monday by the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC).

The rule to implement HB 3328, which was passed during the state's last regular legislative session and signed by the governor, is to be published in the Texas Register Sept. 9. The public comment period ends Oct. 11 following a public comment meeting scheduled for Oct. 5 in Austin. An online comment form also will be available on the RRC website.

In its analysis the RRC determined that the financial impact on the oil and gas industry for complying with disclosures will be modest.

"The commission anticipates that the proposed new rule may have an adverse economic impact on suppliers, service companies and operators, but it will be relatively minor," the RRC said. "The economic impact on the regulated industry of the proposed rule to implement HB 3328 may include costs for new or increased record-keeping; for new or increased reporting requirements to the commission; for modifying existing processes and procedures; and for consulting with professionals, including attorneys and engineers."

In fact, the RRC found that numerous companies already are disclosing frack fluid chemicals through the FracFocus Chemical Registry. As of Aug. 16, data related to nearly 950 wells in Texas had been entered at the registry since it began April 1, the RRC said.

"During that same period, operators submitted completion reports for 2,141 oil and natural gas wells, or approximately 1,820 wells that underwent hydraulic fracturing treatment if the commission assumes that 85% of all wells undergo hydraulic fracturing treatment. Therefore, the commission estimates that operators already are voluntarily entering data into FracFocus for approximately 50% of all wells on which hydraulic fracturing treatment is performed."

The RRC listed more than two dozen companies that are voluntarily providing data to FracFocus.

Earlier this summer the RRC said it hoped to implement the HB 3328 rule in its entirety by next year (see Shale Daily, July 14).

During the legislative session an analysis of HB 3328 found that it "could create the nation's strongest hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure regime, thus earning the support of several environmental groups and the backing of many in industry because the legislation provides certain limited trade secret protections that will allow operators and service providers to protect their intellectual property."

State Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), who was Senate cosponsor of the bill along with state Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), said at the time of the bill's Senate passage (see Shale Daily, May 27), "I think probably every square inch of my district is sitting on top of the Barnett Shale. I don't think there is any other state in the nation that has a disclosure requirement this comprehensive..."

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