Sunday, June 2, 2013

New rules for fracking on public lands

The US Department of the Interior has recently released an updated draft proposal for a new set of rules that would govern hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on public lands. This update on the proposal drafted about a year ago is reported to be a part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to support safe and responsible domestic energy production.

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The update on the draft proposal has kept the three main components of the proposal in 2012. Operators still need to: disclose the chemicals they use in fracturing activities on public lands, run well-bore integrity tests to make sure that the fluids used during operations don’t contaminate groundwater, and have a water management plan to ensure that fluids that flow back to the surface are handled properly.

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While the proposal is still subject to a 30-day public comment period, however, it has already drawn the ire of environmentalist groups for the allowances it gives to operators. With the new rule, operators have the option to keep some components (such as proprietary compounds) secret, and well-integrity tests can be done on a representative well instead of all wells in the field.

In light of the criticism, the Interior maintains that the new proposal ensures that best practices will be used to ensure steady development in the industry while protecting human health and the environment. And while several groups oppose the use of fracking, the fact still remains that it has been done safely for decades and that it has great potential in significantly increasing domestic resources and improving the economy.

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Dr. Ali Ghalambor has delivered numerous technical presentations on various aspects of petroleum production such as drilling, well completion, well planning, and well integrity. For more updates on policies affecting the energy industry, follow this Twitter page.

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