In a unanimous vote, Arkansas regulators have agreed to give the public access to the ingredients of hydraulic fracturing (frack) fluid used to stimulate wells in their state, but they can’t have the recipe. The new rule will apply to wells permitted after Jan. 15.
Among other things, compliance will require fracking operators to submit three lists pertaining to fluids used. One list is to inventory base fluids, another is to list additives, and the third is to list all of the chemicals in the additives — but not labeled by additive and without amounts.
The lists are to be independent of each other. The exclusion of chemical amounts will prevent competitors from being able to “back formulate,” or copy the frack fluid from the information provided, Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission Director Larry Bengal told NGI’s Shale Daily.
“You’ll know what is there, but by not knowing the amounts in that frack job then competitors can’t back formulate,” he said. “…It still [gives] the public the right to know: here’s this master list of what’s in here.”
However, health care professionals will be able to get access to detailed fluid contents should it be necessary for medical reasons, the rule states.
During the development of the rule, most comments came from environmental and other non-energy industry organizations, said Bengal, who noted that groups such as the Sierra Club and the League of Women Voters demonstrated “a fair understanding of what was fracking and disclosure.”
An early iteration of the rule relied upon the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Material Safety Data Sheet standard. However, this was dropped as it did not require the listing of all chemical constituents if disclosure of a particular constituent was not required under the OSHA standard for worker safety.
Public curiosity about the ingredients of fracking fluids continues to grow along with activity in shale gas patches across the country. Some companies have decided to voluntary disclose fracking fluid ingredients (see Shale Daily, Nov. 16; Nov. 10). And the U.S. Department of Interior is considering how it might require fluid ingredient disclosure in the future (see Shale Daily, Dec. 1). The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission this summer implemented disclosure regulations (see Daily GPI, Aug. 31).
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