Oklahoma City chemical disclosure website FracFocus turns year old

It has been a year since two national organizations based in Oklahoma City unveiled a voluntary registry for oil and natural gas companies to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. The website, FracFocus.org, drew nearly 150,000 unique visitors over the past 12 months.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: April 13, 2012
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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.

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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:

Anadarko Petroleum Corp.: 1,566

Chesapeake Operating Inc.: 1,521

XTO Energy/ExxonMobil: 1,202

Pioneer Natural Resources: 894

EOG Resources Inc.: 740

Devon Energy Production Co.: 665

Encana Oil & Gas Inc.: 662

Noble Energy Inc.: 584

Southwestern Energy: 580

Energen Resources Corp.: 510

Chesapeake was an advocate for transparency years before the database was launched, so we naturally were early supporters of this information database.”

Jim Gipson

Chesapeake Energy Corp. spokesman

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