Natural Gas producers may be able to upload their data on fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in a day or two to www.hydraulicfracturingdisclosure.org, provided that they have created a login, said Mike Nickolaus, special projects director for the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC).
The new state-based registry for companies to voluntarily disclose the contents of fracking fluids is a joint effort by two state regulatory groups tasked with environmental protection and conservation -- the GWPC, which represents members of state groundwater regulatory agencies, and the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) (see Shale Daily, Dec. 16, 2010).
"We hope to have the operator upload capability ready in a couple of days but have not yet decided whether or not we can provide a download capability to the public until the rest of the public education and outreach portion of the site is ready in one to three months. However, it is possible that we will create [sooner] a capability...allowing the public to at least see what is being put into the system by operators," Nickolaus said.
The heads of the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) Tuesday expressed their support for the registry.
The Energy Information Administration has reported that shale gas will play a growing role in the natural gas mix in the years ahead, increasing to 45% of U.S. production by 2035 from 14% of domestic production in 2009.
"We applaud this state-led effort to provide greater transparency about hydraulic fracturing and the opportunity to increase public confidence in its safety. Hydraulic fracturing facilitated an enormous increase in the size of the natural gas resource base in the last four years and generated tens of thousands of new jobs in shale-producing states," said NGSA President R. Skip Horvath.
He stressed the importance of regulation of the fracking process remaining in the hands of the states, not the federal government.
Environmentalists argue that the fluids used in the fracking process pose a risk to public safety and the environment. Producers contend otherwise, pointing to the results of a 2004 study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as proof. The EPA currently is carrying out a second study to determine if fracking presents any hazards.
Producers inject fluids thousands of feet underground into shale rock, fracturing it and providing channels for natural gas to travel up the wellbore.The fluid mixture is 99% water and sand with about 1% additives that serve important functions such as inhibiting corrosion and discouraging bacteria growth, the groups said.
INGAA President Donald Santa said shale gas is vital to achieving national goals. "New domestic natural gas supplies will be critical to meeting the nation's energy needs for decades to come. For example, natural gas is playing an increasingly important role in generating efficient, low-emission electricity. We are in agreement with President Obama that natural gas is a solution that Republicans and Democrats can come together on."