Two moves have been made recently that provide more transparency in the oil and gas industry when it comes to disclosing chemicals used in shale operations. UK-based International Association of Oil & Gas Producers has launched a new website called Natural Gas from Shale Fluid and Additive Component Transparency Service (NGS FACTS), which offers information on chemicals used in exploratory wells along with water and sand information. The website, ngsfacts.org, presents the information on a fact sheet created for each exploratory well operated in the European Economic Area by participating organizations. “We have initiated this site to address public concerns about one of the most promising energy technologies in Europe,” Michael Engell-Jensen, the association’s executive director, said in a June 18 news release announcing the website. “We’ve listened to the public and policymakers who have asked the industry to disclose the substances used in gas from shale operations. The launch of the site today is a first step, taken voluntarily by the industry, to address such concerns.” The site appears to be user-friendly, allowing users to find wells by searching by list or map. Once the selected well has been found, with one click, a fact sheet appears with the well’s location; description, including the well’s name, operator, and fracturing completion data among other data; and hydraulic fracturing fluid, products, and constituents data. Fracing information includes water volume, max mass percentage of total fracing fluid for water and proppant, product trade names, each product’s purpose in the well, and its supplier. Details on fracing fluid constituents include chemical substances in fracing fluid and the substance’s percentage in the fracing fluid. Currently, the website features data on only six wells, all located in Poland. However, if the pace of shale oil and gas exploration in Europe picks up, hopefully companies will opt to share well data via this website. Given all of the misinformation that has been distributed about hydraulic fracturing in general and concern, among some people, about its use, this website is another step in the right direction. Having access to such information will help the public form opinions and make decisions – whether it is deciding to have a well drilled on their property or whether to invest in a particular oil and gas company – based on accurate information from reliable sources. The debut of NGS FACTS came just a few weeks after the US-based FracFocus hydraulic fracing chemical disclosure registry updated its system, converting to an XML database platform, according to a news release. Users of FracFocus 2.0 are now able to search and gather reports by date, chemical name, or Chemical Abstract Service numbers in addition to using GIS mapping technology to identify chemicals in wells. So far, 427 companies report data for approximately 43,000 wells across the US, FracFocus said, after pointing out that 12 state regulatory agencies mandate companies disclose chemical information via FracFocus. The website is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. Websites like these serve the public well and are doing some good. Armed with such information, the general public will have some help weeding out misinformation. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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