Many people used to wonder what was being pumped into the ground to produce vast new deposits of oil and natural gas.
Now there is seemingly no need.
About 130 companies have logged the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of more than 15,000 wells over the past year on FracFocus.org, a voluntary registry developed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
The site was launched a year ago this week.
The people behind FracFocus are thrilled with how it has been embraced by operators, regulators, government officials and the public.
The website, which has drawn nearly 150,000 unique visitors, includes about 60 pages of information about hydraulic fracturing, why it is used and how it is done.
Officials said the site has become a point of reference for state and federal regulators who field questions about hydraulic fracturing.
“That's what we intended,” said Gerry Baker, associate executive director of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Officials estimate about 75 percent of all wells drilled in the United States are logged on FracFocus, based on scrutiny of a recent Baker Hughes' monthly rig report.
Baker said the goal is to get that number to 100 percent by training companies to use the site by integrating the reports into their operations. He said peer pressure in the industry has augmented the transparency effort, while a growing number of states now are requiring chemical disclosure on the site.
Mike Paque, executive director of the Ground Water Protection Council, said eight states have adopted FracFocus as a reporting standard, while eight more may follow suit.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has passed a rule that would require producers to register their chemical use on the site, but it still must be ratified by the Legislature.
Paque said many companies committed to using the FracFocus site before states started making it mandatory.
He said more than 5,000 wells were registered before Montana became the first state to require its use.
Producers gave input
Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. was the first company to enter data to the new site.
“Chesapeake was an advocate for transparency years before the database was launched, so we naturally were early supporters of this information database,” spokesman Jim Gipson said. “We believe it provides an efficient platform to serve as a universal information reporting system.”
The site was developed after both Oklahoma City-based entities adopted resolutions urging oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals used in their hydraulic fracturing operations.
Paque said they sought input from local producers Chesapeake, Devon Energy Corp. and SandRidge Energy Inc., among others. Environmental groups were consulted as well.
He said a technical meeting was convened in Oklahoma City to set some parameters for the registry.
The parties decided the registry needed to collect information on the chemicals used and their purpose.
“That's the guts of FracFocus,” Baker said.
He said the site has been tweaked throughout its first year, with plans to add more search fields by this summer.
Bill Whitsitt, Devon's executive vice president for public affairs, said the site is an important resource for anyone interested in the oil and gas industry.
“It's much more than what are in the additives,” he said. “I'm very pleased with it.”
At a glance
Site results from partnership
FracFocus is the result of a partnership between two Oklahoma City-based entities: the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
The Ground Water Protection Council is a national association whose members are environmental or water conservationists and oil and natural gas regulators.
The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission is a multistate government agency focused on maximizing the nation's oil and natural gas resources and protecting the environment.
Energy companies, state regulators and environmental groups helped develop the site as well.
Top 10 companies using website
Oil and natural gas companies have reported the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing on their wells during the 12 months since two industry groups unveiled registry website FracFocus.org. Here are the 10 companies that registered the most wells:
Chesapeake was an advocate for transparency years before the database was launched, so we naturally were early supporters of this information database.”