Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Frack Fluid Disclosure Proposed in Louisiana

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) chemical disclosure is spreading throughout the Ark-La-Tex as Louisiana -- home of most of the Haynesville Shale -- is weighing new disclosure requirements modeled in part on those in place in Arkansas and recently mandated in Texas.

"The intense development of the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana and other shale resources across the United States has created a large amount of public interest in the hydraulic fracturing process and its potential effect on the environment," said the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR), whose Office of Conservation held a hearing this week on a proposed rule.

DNR noted that last November a review of Office of Conservation policies on fracking was conducted by the nonprofit, multi-stakeholder organization STRONGER Inc. to assess the effectiveness and adequacy of current regulations. That report, finalized in March (see Shale Daily, March 14), recommended some of the changes included in the proposed amendment to Louisiana rules now being considered, DNR said.

"...[A] proposed rule was drafted by staff of the Office of Conservation using portions of the hydraulic fracturing regulations recently promulgated in the State of Arkansas and statutes recently passed in Texas as models," DNR said.

The proposed rule would require that a work permit be obtained from the Office of Conservation prior to initiating hydraulic fracture stimulation operation on a well. Following completion of fracking, information on fracturing fluid composition and volumes would need to be reported to the Office of Conservation or to a publicly accessible registry.

"The intent of the rule is to provide transparency to ensure that hydraulic fracturing operations are conducted in a manner which is protective of the public health and the environment and to collect technical information on the hydraulic fracturing operations conducted in Louisiana," DNR said.

"...[T]he additional information required by the proposed rule will simply be added to existing paperwork," DNR said. "In the event reporting requirements cannot be handled by existing regulatory personnel employed by the exploration and production [E&P] company, industry representatives estimate the incremental cost to be $1,200 per hydraulically fractured well.

"In 2010 there were 817 wells drilled to the Haynesville Shale. Assuming all of these wells were hydraulically fractured results in an additional cost of $980,000 per year for the entire E&P industry. For comparison, assuming an average cost to drill and complete a Haynesville Shale well is $10,000,000, the percentage cost increase associated with the new requirements would be 0.012%."

Like regulations in Arkansas (see Shale Daily, Dec. 10, 2010) and Texas (see Shale Daily, Aug. 30), Louisiana's proposed rule also makes allowance for information considered to be a trade secret. "An operator will not be responsible for reporting information that is not provided to them due to a claim of trade secret protection by the entity entitled to make such a claim," the proposed rule says.

"The operator may furnish a statement signifying that the required information has been submitted to the Ground Water Protection Council Hydraulic Fracturing Chemical Registry [www.fracfocus.org] or any other similar registry, provided all information is accessible to the public free of charge, to satisfy some or all of the information requirements..."

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