Bloomberg news ran this article today: Frack Secrets by Thousands Keep U.S. Clueless on Wells | By Ben Elgin, Benjamin Haas & Phil Kuntz – Nov 30, 2012
Briefly, the article states drilling companies are to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, yet drilling companies did not disclose 1/5th of the chemicals. Why? Drilling companies claim these “non-disclosed” chemicals are trade secrets, proprietary and therefore exempt from disclosure.
Excerpt: In August, the largest well-servicing companies that worked in Texas withheld the most information about frack jobs. Wells serviced by Halliburton and Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc., the second- and third-largest oilfield services companies respectively, contained more than nine secrets per well according to reports filed by the companies. Frack jobs by Superior Well Services, the Nabors subsidiary, omitted the most information with more than 32 secrets per well.
Not to worry, the drilling companies disclose to FracFocus.
Excerpt (emphasis added): Oil and gas companies are permitted to withhold disclosure of chemicals and their concentrations in any product that they claim to be a trade secret under the Texas law. Such claims can be challenged by state regulators and landowners of well sites or adjacent parcels.
Several other states that require disclosure of fracking chemicals, including Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico and North Dakota, also leave it up to energy companies to determine what chemicals can be labeled secrets. North Dakota’s rule requires companies to report fracking chemicals to FracFocus, beginning last April.
“We require whatever FracFocus requires,” said Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Mineral Resources’ Oil and Gas Division.
The FracFocus website states that chemicals should be disclosed unless they’re a trade secret, as defined by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The operators of FracFocus, which is supported by funds from the industry, don’t check trade-secret claims or offer a way to challenge an exemption.
FracFocus is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Unless otherwise required by state authorities, participation is voluntary. Required or voluntary, there seems to be little to no consequences if the chemical disclosure is inaccurate, incomplete or not filed in a timely manner and note in the previous excerpt : The operators of FracFocus, which is supported by funds from the industry, don’t check trade-secret claims or offer a way to challenge an exemption.
See #3 below:
FracFocus domain is registered by Brothers & Company, a public relations firm.
- American Clean Skies Foundation (front group for Chesapeake Energy)
- America’s Natural Gas Alliance
- Chesapeake Energy Corporation
- Energy Advances New Mexico
- Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission
- Kansas Strong (KOGRF)
- Oklahoma Energy Resources Board
- Powering Progress
Public relations campaigns, such as Energy-In-Depth often point to FracFocus as “proof” the natural gas industry is disclosing the chemicals.
Using diesel fuel in drilling explicitly prohibited by Safe Drinking Water Act – not even the Natural Gas Industry could wiggled out of this provision, well actually there is wiggle room.
Diesel still used to ‘frack’ wells, FracFocus data show
Mike Soraghan, E&E reporter | EnergyWire: Friday, August 17, 2012
(emphasis added) Diesel fuel has been used to “frack” at least 138 wells in the United States in the past year and a half, according to data filed by drillers with the FracFocus.org registry.
But if the definition of diesel proposed by U.S. EPA were used, that figure would rise to 408, according to an EnergyWire analysis of FracFocus data provided by PIVOT Upstream Group.
The data from PIVOT’s D-Frac database show that diesel fuel is still used in hydraulic fracturing, despite industry reassurances that it had been all but discontinued.
They also define the terms of the disagreement between EPA and the companies that do the fracking as they try to figure out regulations for fracking with diesel. EPA’s definition would have covered about 270 more wells.
Environmental groups say federal law requires a permit for hydraulic fracturing with diesel, so each instance is an environmental violation.
Sites in Pennsylvania where wells were fracked with fluids containing diesel fuel, according to the definition proposed by U.S. EPA.
“They’re violating the law, and EPA ought to be enforcing it,” said Dusty Horwitt of the Environmental Working Group.
Oil and gas companies note they cannot get a permit because EPA has never created one. And, they say, there is no indication that fracking with diesel has damaged the environment.
UPDATE 2/28/2013: FracFocus’s operational costs are paid for by two Washington-based industry lobbying groups, the American Petroleum Institute and America’s Natural Gas Alliance.(EnergyWire, Oct. 18, 2012)
©2012 by Dory Hippauf