More than one year after creating a subcommittee to study hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and develop a consensus for best practices, ASTM International has proposed a new standard for data management and reporting that would cover oil and gas operations in shale plays.

The proposed standard -- WK42803, also known as the "Practice for Data Management and Reporting Associated with Shale Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing Operations" -- was created by Subcommittee D18.26 on Hydraulic Fracturing, an entity that was formed in June 2012 from the ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock (see Shale Daily, Aug. 16, 2012).

ASTM said the proposed standard would "offer and highlight some data management and reporting best practices tailored to the considerations of the local and regional geologic and hydrogeologic frameworks that impact the resource extraction techniques used within shale oil and gas regions."

The subcommittee reportedly studied several shale plays before creating the proposed standard, including the Barnett and Eagle Ford shales in Texas, the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania, the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana, the Utica Shale in Ohio and the Monterey Shale in California. Shale operation reporting guidelines from the European Union and Australia were also reviewed by the subcommittee.

"The intent of the proposed standard is to help standardize data; ensure proper data collection during hydraulic fracturing operations; and make data exchanges, extractions and analysis by state agencies, industry and other stakeholders more efficient," ASTM said, adding that the four major areas of focus for its proposed standard are:

  • Chemical disclosure and reporting;
  • Water sources, usage, quality and sampling;
  • Health and environmental risks; and
  • Well integrity and testing.

ASTM said WK42803 would "also strongly consider the importance of state rules and existing IT [information technology] policies where existing state regulations already govern these operations." The organization said it hoped to work with various stakeholders to develop a standard that would be useful to them and to the public, while at the same time raising public confidence in shale operations and providing additional data for future research.

"Section members agreed that operational due diligence begins before [fracking] takes place and continues through the life of wastewater disposal and monitoring," ASTM said. "The proposed standard will promote an open process of disclosing operational information in the interest of public and environmental health and safety."

The next Committee D18 meeting is scheduled for Jan. 26-28 in Houston. The meeting is part of ASTM's January Committee Week.