Keeping Track of Hydraulic Fracturing in California

By Kyle Ferrar, CA Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

Environmental regulations in California are considered conservative by most state standards. To name a few practices, the state has developed an air quality review board that conducts independent toxicological assessments on a level competitive with the U.S. EPA, and the state instituted the U.S.’s first green house gas cap and trade program. But most recently the California Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) has been criticized in the media for its lack of monitoring of hydraulic fracturing activity. DOGGR has been responsive to criticism and preemptive of legislative action and has begun a full review of all well-sites in California to identify which wells have been hydraulically fractured and plan to monitor future hydraulic fracturing. Additionally they have maintained historical records of all wells drilled, plugged, and abandoned in the state in web-accessible databases, which include data for oil and gas, geothermal, and injection wells, as well as other types of support wells such as pressure maintenance, steam flood etc.. The data is also viewable in map format on the DOGGR’s online mapping system (DOMS).

To understand what is missing from the DOGGR dataset, it was compared to the dataset extracted from by SkyTruth. The map “Hydraulic Fracturing in California” compares these two datasets, which can be viewed individually or together as one dataset with duplicates removed. It is interesting to note the SkyTruth dataset categorizes 237 wells as hydraulically fractured that DOGGR does not, and identifies three wells (API #’s 11112215, 23727206, and 10120788) not identified in the DOGGR database. For the some of these 237 wells, DOGGR identifies them as new, which means they were recently drilled and hydraulically fractured and DOGGR will be updating their database. Many are identified as active oil and gas wells., while the rest are identified as well types other than oil and gas. Also the SkyTruth dataset from FracFocus data contains additional information about each well-site, which DOGGR does not provide. This includes volumes of water used for hydraulic fracturing and the fracture date, both of which are vital pieces of monitoring information.

The California State Legislature is currently reviewing California Senate Bill 4 (CA SB 4) written by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), which would put in place a regulatory structure for permitting and monitoring hydraulic fracturing and other activity.  A caveat for acidification is also included that would require companies to obtain a specific permit from the state before acidizing a well.  The bill has received criticism from both industry and environmentalists.  While it does not call for a moratorium or regulate what chemicals are used, it is the first legislation that requires a full disclosure of all hydraulic fracturing fluid additives, including those considered proprietary.  This is the last of at least seven bills on the issue, the majority of which have been turned down by lawmakers. The most conservative bills (Assemblywoman Mitchell; D-Culver City) proposed moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing in the state. Earlier this year lawmakers approved a bill (Sen. Pavley; D-Agoura Hills) that would direct the state to complete and independent scientific risk assessment of hydraulic fracturing. The bill directs permitters to deny permits if the study is not finished by January 1, 2015, and also requires public notice before drilling as well as disclosure of chemicals (besides those considered proprietary). In May, a bill (Sen. Wold; D-Davis) was passed requiring drillers to file a $100,000 indemnity bond for each well, with an optional blanket indemnity bond of $5 million for operators with over 20 wells. Another bill (Jackson; D-Santa Barbara) that would require monitoring of both transportation and disposal of wastewater was tabled until next year.

Although hydraulic fracturing has been conducted in California for over a decade, it was not monitored or regulated, and the majority of Californians were not aware of it. Industry groups have portrayed the lack of attention as a testament to its environmental neutrality, but Californians living smack dab in the middle of the drilling tend to tell a different story. The issue is now receiving attention because hydraulic fracturing is such a hotbed topic of contention, along with the potential future of the billions of barrels of oil in the Monterey Shale. The unconventional extraction technology necessary to recover the oil from these deep shale formations is state of the art, which means it is not tried and true. The methods include a combination of high tech approaches, such as horizontal drilling, high volume hydraulic fracturing, and acidification to name a few. Realize: if this technology existed for the last 60 years, the Monterey Shale would already have been developed long ago, along with the rest of the U.S. deep shale formations.

Waste produced by Chesapeake Appalachia and the industry leader in each category from unconventional wells in PA between January and June 2013

PA Releases Unconventional Production and Waste Data

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) releases unconventional oil and gas production and waste data twice a year.  It is important to note that both datasets are self-reported from the industry, and there are usually a few operators who miss the reporting deadline.  For that reason, FracTracker usually waits a week or so to capture the results of the fashionably late.  However, after looking at the data, it is likely that there are still operators that have not yet reported.


Production is perhaps the most important metric of the oil and gas industry.  After all, if there were no production, there would be no point in drilling in the first place.  Royalty payments for property owners are based on production values from the wells.  More than that though, it can be an indication of hot spots, and to some degree, which operators are better at getting the product out of the ground than the rest of the field.


Unconventional formations–especially the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale–underlie about two-thirds of Pennsylvania.  However, that does not mean that if an operator drilling a hole in Clarion County can expect the same result as well in Sullivan County, for example.  Production is unevenly distributed throughout the state:

Unconventional gas production in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013.  All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf).  Counties with above average production per well are highlighted in orange.

Unconventional gas production in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013. All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf). Counties with above average production per well are highlighted in orange.

With 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas production in half a year from unconventional wells, Pennsylvania has become a major leader in production.  For a quick comparison to other regions of the country, see the Energy Information Administration, (although the EIA has apparently not felt inspired to update their data in a while).

It should be noted that there is also oil and condensate production from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania, although that really amounts to a drop in the barrel, so to speak.  Unlike the Bakken, where gas is seen as a byproduct that is routinely flared because there is no infrastructure ready to accept it, the Marcellus and Utica in Pennsylvania are really all about the gas.  Some of the gas from the western part of the state is considered wet, with heavier hydrocarbons like ethane and propane mixed with the methane, but in terms of this report, there is no distinction between wet gas and dry gas, or pure methane.  Eight out of 17 wells producing oil and 430 out of 505 wells producing condensate are located in Washington County.


The reason that production values are more telling for geographies than for operators is that most operators in Pennsylvania are limited to select portions of the state, where their leasing strategies were focused.  Therefore, certain companies occupy the regions that yield higher production, while others are left trying to extract from less productive areas.  So looking at production by operator does not necessarily reflect their skill at extraction, but it does does give a general impression of how much one of their wells is likely to produce, which could be useful for people trying to negotiate leases, among other considerations.

Unconventional gas production by operator in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013.  All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf).  Operators with above average production are highlighted in orange.

Unconventional gas production by operator in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013. All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf). Operators with above average production are highlighted in orange.

Note that eight operators on the list have no data.  Presumably, there are the operators that have not yet reported their data to the DEP, although it is possible that some of them could be defunct.  Obviously, any missing data here would also be missing from the county totals.  Alpha Shale is the clear leader in terms of production per well, with about 1.2 million Mcf per well.  Citrus, Rice, and Chief occupy the next teir, with each exceeding an average of 700,000 Mcf.  All four are relatively minor operators, however, with fewer than 100 wells reporting production.  In terms of total production, Chesapeake blows the competition out of the water, with roughly the same production as the next two producers (Cabot and Range) combined.


Along with all of the profitable gas being produced in Pennsylvania comes all of the various waste products that are created in the process.  Before jumping into the numbers, I’d like to point out that it is likely that operators who have not reported production also have not reported their contribution to the waste.  In its current form, the waste report has 12,604 lines of data from 4,991 different unconventional wells.    Here is a summary of the waste produced by type from unconventional formations in Pennsylvania:

Waste reported from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013.  Note that one barrel equals 42 US gallons.

Waste reported from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013. Note that one barrel equals 42 US gallons.

Some interesting things are revealed when sorting the waste type data by operator, although the resulting table is a little unweildy, even for me.  But here are a few highlights:

  • Anadarko reported 99.5 percent of basic sediment production  
  • Southwestern Energy produced more than twice as much drill cuttings (128,000 tons) as the next highest operator (Cabot:  50,000 tons)
  • Range Resources led the pack with 172,000 barrels of drilling fluid, with Chevron Appalachia (168,000 barrels) close behind
  • PA Gen Energy had the most flowback fracturing sand reported, with over 8,600 tons, despite having fewer than 100 producing wells.
  • Chevron Appalachia produced the most fracing fluid waste (934,000 barrels), with Range Resources coming in at number two (773,000 barrels).  This is what Pennsylvania calls the flowback fluid; this is not the straight chemical additives that used in the hydraulic fracturing process, but those additives are included in this fluid
  • The most produced fluid, or formation brine, came from Range Resources wells (1.6 million barrels), followed by Chesapeake (1.4 million barrels)
  • 82 percent of the servicing fluid reported was from Cabot (1,741 barrels)
  • 100 percent of the spent lubricant was reported by SWEPI (19 barrels)

Amazingly, despite their overwhelming lead in gas production in the state, Chesapeake Appalachia did not have the most of any of the eight different waste types, and in some cases, were not even close:

Waste produced by Chesapeake Appalachia and the industry leader in each category from unconventional wells in PA between January and June 2013

Waste produced by Chesapeake Appalachia and the industry leader in each category from unconventional wells in PA between January and June 2013

The Pennsylvania waste data is also notable for including the disposal method of the waste:

Disposal method for unconventional waste from PA between January and June 2013

Disposal method for unconventional waste from PA between January and June 2013

And for those who can handle one last table, Pennsylvania also tells us where the waste is disposed:

Destination of unconventional oil and gas waste in PA between January and June 2013, by state

Destination of unconventional oil and gas waste in PA between January and June 2013, by state



FracTracker Alliance’s *NEW* California Shale Viewer

By Kyle Ferrar, CA Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

The FracTracker Alliance has just recently opened a new office based out of Berkeley, California. As a first step in addressing the unique issues of oil and gas extraction in the Golden State, FracTracker has queried the data that is published by the state’s regulatory agencies, and has translated those datasets into various maps that highlight specific issues. As a first step in this process, FracTracker transcribed the well-site data that is publicly available from the California Department of Conservation’s (DOC) Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR).

This first phase of analysis is presented in FracMapper on the California page, here. FracTracker has translated the entire DOGGR database into a map layer that can be viewed on the California Shale Viewer map, here. The California Shale Viewer will be continuously updated to map the expanding oil and gas development as it occurs. Featured map layers on the California Shale Viewer focus on hydraulic fracturing in the state of California. The hydraulic fracturing well-site data comes from two sources. First, the layer “CA Hydraulically Fractured Wells Identified by DOGGR” portrays the maps identified by regulatory agency as having been hydraulically fractured. The DOGGR is aware that their dataset is not complete in terms of identifying all wells that have been hydraulically fractured. The second source of data is from our friends at SkyTruth, and provided in the layer “CA Hydraulically Fractured Wells Identified by SkyTruth”. Using a crowd-source platform, SkyTruth has generated a dataset based on the information reported to refuses to provide aggregated datasets of their well-site data. These hydraulically fractured well-sites can be viewed as a individual datasets in the California Shale Viewer, or as a combined layer in the map “California Hydraulically Fractured and Conventional Oil and Gas Wells” map, where you are also able to view the dataset of wells FracFocus identifies as hydraulically fractured, but DOGGR does not.

More information concerning the many different types of wells drilled in California and the status of these wells (whether they are planned, active, idle or plugged) can be found in the “Well Type” map and “Well Status” map, also available on the FracTracker California page.

Koontz Class II Injection Well, Trumbull County, Ohio, (41.22806065, -80.87669281) with 260,278 barrels (10,020,704 gallons) of fracking waste having been processed between Q3-2010 and Q3-2012 (Note: Q1-2016 volumes have yet to be reported!).

OH Class II Injection Wells – 2012 Year-in-Review

By Ted Auch, PhD – OH Program Coordinator

Ohio is currently home to 242 of what Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) calls “Active” Class II Injection wells capable of accepting hydraulic fracturing waste1. This is not an accurate reflection of the state’s entire Class II Injection well inventory, which includes 129 Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), 82 Annular Disposal (AD), 221 Salt Water Disposal (SWD), 1,987 Temporarily Abandoned Annular Disposal (TAAD), and 57 Salt Mining (SM) wells. These have all been chronicled in our Shale Gas Waste Disposal Network Map (see below).

View Map Fullscreen >

Data Demographics

Ohio Class II Injection Well Volumes and Depth

Figure 1. Ohio’s Current “Active” and “Other” Class II Injection Well inventory, total depth, and depth interval model

The state’s “Active” stock of Class II wells averages 4,434 ± 2,032 feet in total depth with a range of 871 to 13,727 feet and 793,734 linear feet (Figure 1). The two deepest wells are CNX Gas Company’s 10,490 foot well in Warren Township and David R Hill’s 13,727 foot well in Pease Township, both of which are in Belmont County. The state’s 22 ≥7,000 foot wells are spread throughout the state’s eastern quarter2, however, in Washington (5), Summit (1), Stark (2), Portage (1), Mahoning (3), Guernsey (2), Coshocton (1), Carroll (2), Belmont (2), and Ashtabula (3). Meanwhile the state’s shallow Class IIs are predominantly in Tuscarawas (4) and Morgan (3) Counties (Figure 1)3. The state’s deepest Class II interval is home to very few “Active” wells and likewise is devoid of related – but not currently fracking-related injection wells – Class IIs. The state’s primary Class II counties are Morgan, Perry, and Hocking, with 610 of the state’s 1,988 Temporarily Abandoned Annular Disposal (TAAD) Class IIs at a depth of 2,870-4,000 feet. These “Other” Class IIs are the very wells many Ohioans are worried will be called into service for the disposal of fracking waste as unconventional drilling expands in OH, WV, PA, and potentially NY. Additionally, there are early signs of interest in horizontal drilling in Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan. With this growing interest comes concomitant concerns about disposal in those states, with specific foci on Michigan’s Class IIs in its most sensitive aquifers and natural areas and Illinois’ relatively strict drilling regulations.

Class II Geology

Utilizing data generously provided to us by ODNR’s UIC Section analyst Jennifer Gingras, we were able to take a closer look at OH’s current fracking waste story (Figure 2). Most of the “Active” wells lie within primary shale and secondary siltstone geologies, with secondary formations of importance being sandstones and black shales (Figure 3). Silstone, shale, and black shale are the primary geologies (>50% of the formation) underlying 202 of the state’s “Active” Class IIs; whereas the secondary geology (<50% of the formation) of nearly all (228) “Active” wells is either shale or siltstone.

Ohio Class II and Underlying Primary Geology Ohio Class II and Underlying Secondary Geology Ohio Class II Geology Pie Chart
Figure 2. Ohio’s 146 Active Class II Injection Wells that accepted hydraulic fracturing related brine wastes and their associated primary (Left Plate) and secondary (Right Plate) geologies. Figure 3. The primary and secondary geologies of Ohio’s 179 Active Class II Injection Wells as of December 2012

Class II Volumes 2010-2013

From a volume-injected perspective, 1.480 and 1.813 million barrels of waste fluids were received in and out of district, respectively, with averages of 3,096 and 3,793 barrels per well for a total of 3.29 million barrels year-to-date. The highest volumes received were in the Myers Well in Edinburg Township, Portage County well (received 71,116 “In Sector” barrels) and from “Out of Sector” in the Long Run Disposal Well (SWIW #*) in Newport Township, Washington County (received 208,845 barrels) (Figure 4). These two wells injected the most total drilling waste, followed by Ohio Oil Gathering Corp’s Newport Township, Washington County well and Warren Drilling Corp’s (SWIW #6) Jackson Township, Noble County well (Figure 1).

Ohio "In Sector" Class II and Underlying Primary Geology Ohio "Out Of Sector" Class II and Underlying Primary Geology
Figure 4. Ohio’s Active Class II Injection Wells that accepted hydraulic fracturing related
brine wastes from “In Sector” (Left Plate, 145 Wells) and “Out of Sector (Right Plate, 58 Wells) based locations.

Between 2010 and 2013-Q2, OH’s Class II Injection wells have received 35.058 million barrels, 46.6% from “In Sector” and 53.4% from “Out Of Sector”, with per well averages of 68.4 and 78.3K, respectively. The highest volume quarters to date were Q3 and Q4 of 2012, which boasted a total volume of 7.79 million barrels (59% “In Sector” Vs 41% “Out Of Sector”).

OH’s Fab Four Class II Counties

County No. “Active” Class II Injection Wells Yearly Processed Waste (barrels) Per-Well Average (barrels)
Morrow 13 440,040 33,849
Stark 17 745,601 43,859
Ashtabula 14 846,986 60,499
Portage 13 1,608,139 123,702


Combined, 34 of these 57 wells received 27% of the state’s total fracking brine waste.

Our “Shale Gas Waste Disposal Network Map” has been updated to include Q3 2010 to Q2 2913 Class II disposal rates and revenue on a quarterly basis.

Ohio Class II Processing Trajectory

Figure 5. Ohio’s quarterly fluctuations in Class II Injection well waste injected between 2010-Q3 and 2013-Q2 in sector, out of sector, and total

The Ohio Class II Crystal Ball

Using a simple statistical technique called linear regression we can do a decent job of projecting future trends in Ohio’s Class II volume story (Figure 5). Using this technique we see that the average amount of waste injected by the state’s Class II wells increases by 147,202 barrels or 4.64 million gallons per quarter. Most of this trajectory is due to “Out Of Sector” fracking waste, explaining 45% of the 67% quarter-to-quarter change attributed to the simple relationship between fiscal quarter and barrels received.

The amount of Class II Injection well waste received here in Ohio will likely double by the first half of 2015 at 68.379-71.711 million gallons and tripled by Q2-Q3 of 2018 (105.031-108.363 million barrels).


[1] Two of these wells are missing Latitude-Longitudes according to a search of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Risk Based Data Management System (RBDMS) database. Additionally, fifty-one of these “Active” wells had yet to receive fracturing waste at the end of 2013-Q1.

[2] Much of the state’s western half is underlain by Karst topography which is susceptible to subsurface erosion due to the fragility of the limestone geology.

[3] Neighboring West Virginia is home to sixty-two Class II Injection Wells, Pennsylvania 805 “Active” Class IIs, Virginia 8 “Active” Class IIs, and Kentucky 82 Class IIs (US Class II Injection Well soon to arrive on FracTracker).

FracTracker Touring a Bit of Europe

Basel_Berlin_DornbirnBy Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Manager of Science and Communications, FracTracker Alliance

I stare into my computer during an early morning Skype call with my hosts in Germany. As my cat stubbornly tries to join the conversation, we intently discuss international energy policies, travel plans, and audience demographics. This awkward setup is all in preparation for my upcoming whirlwind tour of Europe. On August 20 and 21, JF&C and Agora Energiewende will host roundtables with participants from their organizations, oil and gas companies, European advisory groups, Green Parliament, and me – just to name a few. This trip is in conjunction with the ISEE conference, where later in the week I will be talking about FracTracker on a panel with other experts regarding shale gas and oil extraction issues.

Hydraulic Fracturing in Europe

One of the many reasons for this trip is because Europe is where the United States was several years ago with regard to the status of drilling, but their circumstances are vastly different. Where the U.S. moved quickly (in most cases) to utilize hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas and oil, many countries in Europe are only now starting to explore this as an energy option. Some countries, such as France, outright banned the process. Whereas Poland, for many reasons, has embraced the relatively new technology. Just in terms of space, however, Europe is not an ideal location to drill. If you believe Google, in 2011 Europe hosted ~739 million people in an area of 10.82 million km2 – vs. the US in 2012 with ~314 million people in an area of 9.83 million km2. There are several other special considerations that would need to be made in order for Europeans to allow drilling operations like those that involve hydraulic fracturing in their backyards. One such technological advancement, I learned recently, is the option for wells to be completely enclosed (which helps to shield neighbors from potential air, smell, and noise pollution). Whether that refers to an enclosure during drilling or after, remains to be seen. Regardless, I am excited to share my shale gas experiences with others in Europe, but I am even more eager to learn how our experiences differ… The other reason for this trip is for vacation. Can’t fault that!


  • Aug 19-23 (All Day): ISEE Conference. Basel, Switzerland
  • Aug 20 (12:00–15:30): JF&C Roundtable. Berlin, Germany
  • Aug 20 (16:00–18:00): Agora Energiewende Roundtable. Berlin, Germany
  • Aug 21 (Morning Meetings): Various groups. Berlin, Germany
  • Aug 22 (14:00-15:30): Conference Panel, S-3-30: Environmental & Occupational Health Risks from Fracking & Natural Gas Extraction. Congress Center, Basel, Switzerland.

When I return from Europe, I plan to write a follow up blog piece (with pictures of my own instead of stock ones). Stay tuned!