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Thousands Visit New Fracking Chemicals Website

A new website that provides a list of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing is already becoming popular after its launch on Monday.

The website, fracfocus.org, is a collaboration of oil and gas companies and two multi-state organizations: the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).

"So far the response has been very positive," GWPC spokesman Mike Nickolaus told NGI's Shale Daily on Tuesday. "I have responded to some of the folks who have submitted questions, and they've appreciated the response."

Nickolaus said he had just performed an analysis of the website's traffic and determined that it had more than 4,800 hits since its launch on Monday. He said users from more than 40 countries visited the site.

"Most of the visitors have been going to the chemical use page," Nickolaus said. "The state regulations page is also getting a fair number of visitors, and 'frequently asked questions' is also getting a fair number. We have already responded to about a dozen or two questions submitted to the site."

Nickolaus said 25 companies have now joined the website -- up from 20 companies just last week -- and have voluntarily agreed to disclose the list of chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing. He said the memberships of three additional companies were pending.

Marcellus Shale Coalition President Kathryn Klaber lauded the website's launch.

"Our industry is continuously working to improve best practices while seeking transparency across all of our operations," Klaber said Tuesday. "This new site is a critical tool, and represents a positive step toward further heightening transparency. This online database should also bring closure to the question of what and how many additives are used in the fracturing process, a tightly regulated 60-year-old technology that's been safely used more than 1.1 million times across the nation without ever impacting groundwater."

Two companies -- Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Chief Oil & Gas LLC -- said they had joined the website in separate statements on Monday.

"The registry is a great tool for the industry and for the public," said Kristi Gittins, spokesperson for Dallas-based Chief. "We hope that the widespread adoption of this practice by the industry will help to assure the public that our operations are safe and increase the open, honest and transparent communication that are key values at Chief." She added that the company had been voluntarily disclosing its list of chemicals since 2010.

Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon said, "Providing further information about our drilling, completing and producing operations in today's environment is more critical than ever, and we believe this new public registry provides an immediate, workable and accurate way to present information about the additives of our hydraulic fracturing operations to all of our stakeholders."

McClendon added that the Oklahoma City-based company "[encourages] every other producer and their respective service company partners to enthusiastically embrace this approach."

The website allows users to find wells by state, county, operator and American Petroleum Institute (API) number. It also contains an informational section explaining chemical use, state regulations and the hydraulic fracturing process.

Nickolaus said the nonprofit GWPC has been working on the website since last October (see Shale Daily, April 6).

The API announced last December that it supported the voluntary disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, and efforts by the GWPC and the IOGCC to create a registry for them. Other industry groups have also supported the move (see Shale Daily, Dec. 16, 2010; Dec. 3, 2010).

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