West Virginia Map Updated

At FracTracker, we are constantly adding new content to our maps page. In recent weeks, we have added new content for Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Arkansas. Now, we have updated our West Virginia Shale Viewer as well.

West Virginia Shale Viewer. Please click the expanding arrows in the top right corner to access the legend and other map tools.

The map above shows some detail about Marcellus Shale operations in the Mountain State, including:

  • Permits issued (purple).  To date, there have been 3,079 permits issued statewide since 2000 where the Marcellus Shale is the target formation.
  • Completed wells (orange).  Of the permits that have been issued, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) has received a completion form for 1,840 wells, or just under 60 percent.
  • Wells in noncompliance (yellow).  196 Marcellus wells were given the noncompliance flag in the dataset.  There are no details on what might have led to this status, however.
  • Public comment wells (blue).  35 Marcellus Shale wells in West Virginia are flagged as having received a public comment of one sort or another.  As with the wells in noncompliance, this dataset offers no details on these wells.

Here’s a look at the number of completion reports received by WVDEP by month:

Marcellus Shale completions by month in West Virginia

Marcellus Shale completions by month in West Virginia

The largest number of completions per month for Marcellus Shale wells is 97 in April 2009.  The next highest total was the following month, with 81 completions.  From January through August of this year, there are an average of 40.5 completions per month in West Virginia.

The information that is distributed in this West Virginia data is typical, however, a good deal of data are being collected by WVDEP.  To see the kinds of things that the state knows about completed wells, take a look at what is required for submission on form WR-35.

European Drilling Perspectives

By Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH – Manager of Science and Communications

In August I spent a little over two weeks in Europe, the first of which was for work in Berlin, Germany and Basel, Switzerland. Now that I have had some time to process my travels and am back on a proper sleep schedule, I thought I’d provide a little wrap up of my impressions of Europe and the issue of unconventional drilling.

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

Berlin, Germany

In Berlin, I was hosted by two innovative organizations: JF&C and Agora Energiewende. JF&C is a consulting company that advises on international markets and sustainable growth. The roundtable held by JF&C was intended to bring together a diverse group of decision-makers in Germany to discuss potential challenges of heavy drilling in Europe — and they did not disappoint. Participants included representatives from the:

The diverse backgrounds of the group led to a heated yet balanced debate on the topic of whether unconventional gas extraction should occur in Germany, as well as the rest of Europe. I was quite impressed by the transparent and matter-of-fact perspectives held by attendees, which as you can see above included governmental, NGO, and industry reps.

My next presentation in Berlin was coordinated by Agora Energiewende. Energiewende refers to Germany’s dedication to transitioning from non-renewable to more sustainable fuels. You can read more about the movement here. This forum was set up in a more traditional format – a talk by me followed by a series of questions from the audience. Many of the attendees at this event were extremely well informed about the field of unconventional drilling, climate change, and economics, so the questions were challenging in many respects. Attendees ranged from renewable energy developers to US Embassy personnel. As a reflection of such diversity, we discussed a variety of topics at this session, including US production trends and ways to manage and prepare databases in the event that heavy drilling commences in Germany and other parts of Europe.

Interestingly, one of the major opponents of this form of gas extraction in Germany, I learned, has been the beer brewers. (They were not able to be at the table that day, sadly enough.) German breweries that adhere to a 4-ingredient purity law referred to as Reinheitsgebot are very concerned and also very politically active. You can read more about beer vs. fracking here, just scroll down that page a bit.

Over decadent cappuccinos the next morning, I met with Green Parliament representatives who wanted to hear firsthand about FracTracker’s experience of drilling in the U.S. Overall, my Berlin tour showed me that many individuals seemed skeptical that unconventional drilling could safely fulfill their energy needs, while also possessing a hearty intellectual craving to learn as much about it as they could.

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland

The second part of the week was dedicated to attending and presenting at the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology conference in Basel, Switzerland. I participated in a panel that discussed the potential environmental and public health impacts of unconventional gas and oil drilling, as well as methods for prevention and remediation. The audience was concerned about a lack of regulatory and data transparency and the likelihood that such operations could contaminate ground/drinking water supplies. Based on the number of oil and gas wells impacted by the recent Colorado flooding tragedy, I cannot blame them. Most of these attendees were from academia or non-profits, although not entirely; check out coverage from this Polish radio station. (As mentioned in a previous post, Poland is one of the countries in Europe that has the potential for heavy drilling.)

The amount of knowledge I gained – and shared – from this one week alone is more than could have been possible in a year through phone calls and email exchanges. I am incredibly thankful for our funders’ and FracTracker’s support of this endeavor. Being able to discuss complex issues such as unconventional drilling with stakeholders in person is an invaluable key for dynamic knowledge sharing on an international level.

Links to My Presentations (PDFs):  JF&C  |  Agora  |  ISEE

A few non-work pictures from the second week of my trip…

Dornbirn, Austria

Dornbirn, Austria

Lake Lugano, Switzerland

Lake Lugano, Switzerland

The Alps, Switzerland

The Alps, Switzerland

Milan, Italy

Milan, Italy

Utica well water and chemical usage in-depth: Part I

By Ted Auch, PhD and Daniel Berghoff

Our Ohio intern and I have been working to compile complete water and chemical usage data for Ohio’s horizontal Utica wells. At this point we have an inventory for 248 wells and thought it would be helpful to present our initial analysis.

Water Use

Million gallons per fracked well interval range for 248 horizontal Utica wells.

Figure 1. Million gallons per fracked well interval range for 248 horizontal Utica wells. Click to enlarge.

The Ohio Utica wells are using 4.4-4.6 million gallons (±1.6 MG) of water per fracked well1 (Fig. 1). On the low end of the range are the 93,402-533,412 gallons for the Onega Commissioners 14-25H (PDC Energy), Kernich 3-10-2 1H, and Starkey 36-13-4 5H wells in Guernsey, Columbiana, and Carroll Counties, respectively; the latter two are owned by Chesapeake Energy. On the high end are the four 10 MG+ Antero and Anadarko wells in the counties of Monroe, Muskingum, Noble, and Coshocton (Fig. 2).

Excluding Carroll County – where this water usage is equivalent to 63% of the county’s per capita annual water usage – the Utica wells have used 1.2 billion gallons of water or 3.2% of the population’s annual water demands2. When the state’s additional permitted wells come online they will require an additional 2.5 billion gallons of freshwater…

Put another way, Ohio Utica water usage in five years – assuming 25-52 permits per month3 – will amount to 6.1-12.8 billion gallons per year.

Ohio’s drilling, drilled, and producing Utica wells and average water usage per well interpolation.

Figure 2. Ohio’s drilling, drilled, and producing Utica wells and average water usage per well interpolation. Click to enlarge.

The volume of material injected into each well is 80±6% freshwater (4.1 million gallons) and 7±4% recycled water (373,783 gallons) (Figs. 3 & 4, below). Of the top 20 wells utilizing the highest percent of freshwater, Anadarko and Antero operate 14 of the wells. With respect to recycled water, the only corporation utilizing recycled water is Chesapeake accounting for all 152 wells, with a range of 13,471 4 – 966,412/1,015,826 gallons5 recycled water (Fig. 2, right). A quarter of Ohio’s drilled, drilling, or producing wells – along with the other 12 firms we have data for – do not utilize any recycled waters, however. Currently Ohio’s Utica wells are producing 1.4-11.1 or 1.7-1,063 barrels of brine per barrel of oil depending on whether you choose to incorporate into your calculations the eight wells that have only reported brine numbers to date all of which speaks to its place on nascent Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI) league tables. Learn more>

Chemical Utilization

Utica wells are using Hydrochloric Acid (HCl) ranges of 0.12-0.36% per well. However, due to the fact that the strength of this reagent is not required for each well knowing the percentage of HCl – which is one of six “Strong Acids”6 – is relatively useless; HCl’s molarity/concentration determines its corrosive and acidifying capabilities as defined by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry’s (IUPAC) Gold Book. As such, requiring firms to report the concentration of the HCl utilized on a per well basis should be a component of the reporting process especially given that these percentages translate to 5,351-16,350 gallons of HCl per well– nontrivial amounts by anyone’s standards.

Frac Sand

Ohio’s Utica wells have used 703,080 tons of sands with a market value of $46.87 million7. See Table 1 for a more detailed breakdown.

The per-well origin of these frac sands is an additional unknown variable that would assist in understanding the flows of materials into the state and within the state given that:

  1. Ohio is home to one of the major players in the north American frac sands industry Fairmount Minerals;
  2. the origin and texture of frac sands determine their ability to result in silicosis – already 10 times higher in hydraulic fracturing workers – on and around fracking operations; and
  3. states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin (Click here for 2012 Wisconsin DNR “Silica Sand Mining in Wisconsin” report) and to a lesser degree Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois are claiming that their frac sands are smaller, more uniform, and rounder.

Just like the concentration of HCl, we need to have access to frac sands sourcing in order to fully understand the industry’s footprint and trajectory outside of the “shale plays.”

Table 1. Summary sand usage and chemistry statistics for 248 horizontal Utica wells
Constituent Mean Median +/-

Percent freshwater water per fracked well interval range for 248 horizontal Utica wells.

Figure 3. Percent freshwater per fracked well interval range (248 horizontal Utica wells). Click to enlarge.

Percent recycled water per fracked well interval range for 248 horizontal Utica wells.

Figure 4. Percent recycled water per fracked well interval range (248 horizontal Utica wells). Click to enlarge.

Grain Size (μm) Sand Usage Per Well (Tons)


– – – – – – – – – – – % of Total Frac Fluid – – – – – – – – – – –
Guar Gum
Proprietary Polymers
Crystalline Silica
Gelling Agents
† Only one well reported using 212-425 mm sands


  1. To put these volumes in perspective, a complete inventory (n= 411) of neighboring West Virginia horizontal wells, we find that their wells are using 5.39-5.49 MGs per well with 85.8-88.0% freshwater and 8.00-9.28% recycled water – or 9.2-11.0 freshwater-to-recycled water ratios. Additionally, WV wells are using 0.76-0.094% HCl and 8.38-10.29% sands. Meanwhile across sixteen Michigan wells, water usage is quite variable with an average between 369,349 and 4.23 MGs, along with 87.85-90.69% freshwater, 0.56-0.79% HCl, and 8.05-8.80% sands.
  2. Assuming 90 gallons of water usage per capita per day. Reference: USGS
  3. The 25 and 52 permits per month values are the monthly average since the first permits were issued here in Ohio in September 2010 and the 2013 monthly Ohio average, respectively.
  4. Fligiel 29-12-5 12H well
  5. Lozier 14-15-5 8H and Bucey Bucey 3H wells, respectively.
  6. Sulfuric Acid H2SO4 is the only common acid that is stronger.
  7. Assuming 4-8 million pounds per lateral well. References: ICIS and OAIMA

Ethane Cracker Discussion in Regional Air Pollution Report

Pittsburgh Regional Environmental Threats Analysis (PRETA) Air: Hazardous Air Pollutants

Although now we are an independent non-profit, FracTracker.org actually started as a project of CHEC at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. At that time, Matt, Kyle, and I worked with researchers such as Drew Michanowicz and Jim Fabisiak of Pitt, as well as Jill Kriesky now of the Southwest PA Environmental Health Project, on a data mapping and analysis project called PRETA. The Pittsburgh Regional Environmental Threats Analysis (PRETA) is intended to inform stakeholders about Southwest Pennsylvania’s major environmental health risks and provide ways to manage them. CHEC worked with key decision makers and other academics to identify, prioritize, and assess these risks. The top three risks identified were ozone, particulate matter (PM), and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Due to the extensive time that research like this takes, the final report about hazardous air pollutants was just recently released.

Relevant to our oil and gas readers, the HAPs report included a piece about the proposed ethane cracker slated to be built in Beaver County, PA. Below is an excerpt of PRETA HAPs that discusses how the air quality in our region may change as a result of the removal of the present zinc smelter on that site, in place of the new cracker facility.


Read Full Report (PDF)

Excerpt: The Proposed Monaca, PA Ethane Cracker

Future Trends: New Sources of HAPs in Western Pennsylvania?

All of the previous risk analyses and data discussed [earlier in the report] were drawn using historical data collected in previous years. There is considerable delay around emissions inventory collection, air monitoring data collection, atmospheric modeling, and the calculated risk estimates’ being made public. Hence, these analyses speak best toward past and present trends. They often are less useful in predicting future risks, especially when sources and technologies are constantly changing. For example, better pollution mitigation and retrofitting processes should curtail future emissions from present levels. In addition, changing the profile of various industries within a region also will alter atmospheric chemistry and subsequent risks in future scenarios.

In recent years, there has been an unprecedented expansion of unconventional natural gas development (UNGD) in Western Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia driven in part by the recent feasibility of hydraulic fracturing, which is part of a drilling procedure that allows for the tapping of the vast methane deposits contained in the Marcellus and Utica shales beneath Pennsylvania and surrounding states. Primarily, drillers are seeking to extract methane (CH4), the primary component of natural gas. However, a portion of the natural gas present in our area is considered “wet gas,” which includes heavier hydrocarbons like ethane, propane, and butane that are typically dissolved in a liquid phase or condensate. These compounds are separated from the methane to be marketed as such products as liquid propane or used as feedstock in numerous other chemical processes. Therefore, a high demand remains for wet gas deposits regardless of fluctuating natural gas (methane) market prices. Thus, a large-scale expansion in other industries (e.g., chemical manufacturing) is anticipated to follow UNGD; new industrial facilities are needed to support the refining of wet gas condensates. For example, an ethane cracker converts or “cracks” ethane, a by-product of natural gas, into ethylene so that it can be used in the production of plastics.

Located in Monaca, Pa. (Beaver County), about 12 miles east of the West Virginia border, is an aging zinc smelter owned by the Horsehead Corporation. The present Horsehead facility is currently the largest zinc refining site in the United States, producing metallic zinc and zinc oxide from recycled material and steelmaking waste. The plant opened in the 1920s to take advantage of the by-products of steel manufacturing and has expanded and modernized over time. It employed about 600 workers until recently, when the company announced its relocation to a new state-of-the-art facility in North Carolina in the near future. The scope of this metal-refining operation was such that it was a significant source of metals and criteria air pollutants.

Recently, Shell Chemical, U.S. subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, announced plans to build an ethane cracker in the northeast to take advantage of UNGD. Lured by substantial tax benefits and other economic incentives, Shell chose the former zinc smelting site in Monaca as its proposed new location for such a facility and, in March 2012, received the approval from Pennsylvania officials to build this petrochemical complex. The cracker, according to industry representatives, will be a multibillion-dollar structure and provide thousands of jobs for Pennsylvanians 43, 44. However, many of these jobs depend on the influx of concurrent industries and technologies, which are projected to follow in the wake of sufficient petrochemical refining facilities like the ethane cracker. Thus, it is not likely to be the sole source of pollutants in the area once constructed. Though plant construction remains years away, regional air pollutant composition and chemistry are poised to change as well. Adding to the issue is the fact that the zinc smelter, ranked as one of the worst air polluters in the country in 2002 45, will be decommissioned and have its operations moved to North Carolina.

Here, we will attempt to compare the pollutant profiles of the old and new air pollution sources in order to deduce potential air pollutant changes to existing air quality in the region. Previous emission inventories are available for the Horsehead zinc smelter (EPA Toxic Release Inventory for 2008) 46. Although the proposed cracker facility’s engineering specifics are not available yet, using the records of a similar existing wet gas processing plant, we can approximate the proposed cracker’s yearly emissions. In this case, we have chosen the similarly sized Williams Olefins Cracker Facility currently operating in Geismar, La., whose emissions profiles for 2008 also were available 46. This plant, owned by Williams Partners, L.P., processes approximately 37,000 barrels of ethane and 3,000 barrels of propane per day and annually produces 1.35 billion pounds of ethylene.

Table 5 from PRETA HAPs report

In assessing the emission inventories at the two sites, we first sought to compare those pollutants that were common to both facilities. Table 5 (above) compares the annual release of criteria pollutants for which National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) exist. These include ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (PM10, PM2.5), lead, and carbon monoxide, for which health-based regulatory standards exist for their concentration in ambient air1. Not surprisingly, the zinc smelter released large amounts of lead into the air (five tons per year). The proposed ethane cracker, on the other hand, would release only trace amounts of lead into the air and about 0.1 percent of the sulfur dioxide, 3 percent of the carbon monoxide, and 50 percent of the nitrogen oxides of the zinc smelter. Overall, release of PM would be of a similar order of magnitude at the two sites. Thus, the representative cracker facility by itself emits less NAAQS criteria pollutants than the smelter facility.

Table 6 from PRETA HAPs report

Similarly, Table 6 (above) examines similarly reported HAPs released from both of the facilities in question. A comparison of available emissions inventories of HAPs reveals a list of common pollutants, including acrolein, benzene, ethylbenzene, xylene, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Note the projected increase in release of acrolein and VOCs by the proposed ethane cracker. The latter are a rather broad class of organic chemicals that have high vapor pressure (low boiling point), allowing appreciable concentrations in the air as a gaseous phase 47, 48. Examples of VOCs include formaldehyde, d-limonene, toluene, acetone, ethanol (ethyl alcohol), 2-propanol (isopropyl alcohol), and hexanal, among others. They are common components of paints, paint strippers, and other solvents; wood preservatives; aerosol sprays; cleansers and disinfectants; moth repellents and air fresheners; stored fuels and automotive products; hobby supplies; and dry-cleaned clothing. They also possess a diverse range of health effects, including, but not limited to, eye and throat irritation, nausea, headaches, nosebleeds, and skin rashes at low doses, and kidney, liver, and central nervous system damage at high doses. Some are known or suspected carcinogens. These chemicals are more often known for their role in indoor air pollution and have been linked to allergies and asthma 49. Recall that acrolein is already the primary driver of noncancer respiratory risk in the PRETA area, and releases from the proposed cracker would theoretically add to that burden.

Table 7 from PRETA HAPs Report 2013

Table 7 shows a compiled list of HAPs that were released from the Geismar plant in 2008 but not from the zinc smelter, highlighting the potential change in the pollutant mixture. For comparison, the pollutants highlighted in yellow represent those that are several orders of magnitude greater than those emitted by the Clairton Coke Works in 2008. Note the rather large emissions of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde that were discussed above as the number one and number five existing cancer drivers in the area.

Other VOCs of note include ethylene glycol, ethylene oxide, methyl-tert-butyl ether and propionaldehyde. While all these pollutants may have toxic effects on their own, one of the primary concerns, especially in outdoor air, should be their ability to form secondary pollutants. For example, we have noted previously that both acetaldehyde and formaldehyde can be formed via photo-oxidation reactions of other hydrocarbons and VOCs. Thus, the direct emissions reported in the table are likely to be significant underestimations of the true burden of acetaldehyde and formaldehyde in the area near the cracker. It also should be mentioned that a complex nonlinear sensitivity exists among VOCs, NOX, and the production rate of ozone (O3). Most urban areas are considered NOX saturated or VOC sensitive and therefore have low VOC/NOX ratios. In these environments, ozone actually decreases with increasing NOX and increases with increasing VOCs—a potentially likely situation within the urban areas of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

In conclusion, it would appear that the replacement of the existing zinc smelter with the proposed ethane cracker has the potential to significantly transform the current pollutant mixture in the region. The elimination of lead and other heavy metal emissions would be replaced by increases in formaldehyde and acetaldehyde. In addition, it does not appear that the proposed ethane cracker alone would increase any of the NAAQS criteria air pollutants, with the possible exception of ozone. On the other hand, the rather large releases of several known cancer drivers, such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, from the proposed cracker could increase cancer risk in the immediate proximity. In addition, the large influx of VOCs and fugitive emissions from these operations warrants further predictive analysis, especially with regard to current pollution-mitigating strategies that may not be anticipating a transforming pollutant mix.

Introduction of the ethane cracker & its effect on regional air quality in SW PA

Authors and Credits

University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health
Center for Healthy Environments and Communities
Pittsburgh, PA | August 2013


Drew Michanowicz, MPH, CPH
Kyle Ferrar, MPH
Samantha Malone, MPH, CPH
Matt Kelso, BA
Jill Kriesky, PhD
James P. Fabisiak, PhD

Technical Support

Department of Communications Services
Marygrace Reder, BA
Alison Butler, BA

Full HAPs Report (PDF) | Ozone (PDF) | Particulate Matter (PDF)
For questions related to the full report, please contact CHEC.

References Mentioned in Excerpt

43. Detrow , S. (2012). What’s an ethane cracker? StateImpact – Pennsylvania. Accessed 12-18-12: http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/tag/ethane-cracker.

44. Kelso, M. (2012). Jobs impact of cracker facility likely exaggerated. FracTracker Alliance. Accessed 12-18-12: www.fractracker.org/2012/06/jobs-impact-of-cracker-facility-likely-exaggerated.

45. SCORECARD: The Pollution Information Site. (2002). Environmental Release Report: Zinc Corp. of America Monaca Smelter. Accessed 12-18-12: http://scorecard.goodguide.com/envreleases/facility.tcl?tri_id=15061ZNCCR300FR#major_chemical_releases.

46. U.S. EPA. (2008). Technology Transfer Network, Clearinghouse for Inventories and Emissions Factors The National Emissions Inventory. The National Emissions Inventory. Accessed 1-25-13: www.epa.gov/ttn/chief/net/2008inventory.html.

47. U.S. EPA. (2012). An Introduction to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). Volatile Organic Compounds. Accessed 12-18-12: www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html.

48. U.S. EPA. (2012). Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Accessed 12-18-12: www.epa.gov/iaq/voc2.html.

49. Nielsen, G.D., S.T. Larsen, O. Olsen, M. Lovik , L.K. Poulsen, C. Glue , and P. Wolkoff. (2007). Do indoor chemicals promote development of airway allergy? Indoor Air 17: pp. 236–255.

Read Full Report (PDF)

FracTracker Presenting at Duquesne Shale Gas Conference

Facing the Challenges: Research on Shale Gas Extraction Symposium

Research on Shale Gas Extraction Symposium

On November 25 and 26, 2013 the FracTracker Alliance will be taking part in a regional shale gas symposium at Duquesne University designed to share the recent research that has been conducted regarding the impacts of unconventional natural gas extraction. FracTracker’s Manager of Science and Communications, Samantha Malone, will present on the data gaps and needs that exist in this industry, especially those that hinder regulatory and corporate transparency. Full agenda >

Event Details

Facing the Challenges: Research on Shale Gas Extraction Symposium
November 25-26, 2013 — Duquesne University Power Center, Pittsburgh, PA
Agenda | Register online | Promotional poster (PDF) | Campus map
Free and open to the public!

Join us for a two-day symposium that will explore the challenges of unconventional shale gas extraction. Hear from more than two dozen academic researchers as they present their findings regarding:

  • Biological, geological and environmental investigations
  • Fugitive methane migration and climate change
  • Air and water quality
  • Human and animal health
  • Social, political and legal aspects

Sponsored by the Heinz Endowments, the Claneil Foundation, the Colcom Foundation and The George Gund Foundation. Presented by Duquesne University’s Center for Environmental Research and Education.

More information can be found on the conference website at: www.duq.edu/facing-the-challenges

Related Event

If you are planning on attending Facing the Challenges, you might also be interested in the following event being hosted by the League of Women Voters on November 23rd:

Shale Drilling and Public Health: A Day of Discovery
Presented by The League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania’s Shale and Public Health Committee
November 23, 2013  |  9 am – 5 pm
Heinz History Center, Fifth Floor Mueller Education Center, Pittsburgh, PA
This event is also free and open to the public.
More information

OH Shale Viewer

OH National Response Center Data on Shale Gas Viewer

By Ted Auch, PhD – Ohio Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), we as US citizens have real-time access to “all oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States and its territories” data via the National Response Center (NRC). The NRC is an:

initial report taking agency…[that] does not participate in the investigation or incident response. The NRC receives initial reporting information only and notifies Federal and State On-Scene Coordinators for response…Verification of data and incident response is the sole responsibility of Federal/State On-Scene Coordinators.[1]

We decided that NRC incident data would make for a useful layer in our Ohio Shale Gas Viewer. As of September 1, 2013 it is included and will be updated bi-monthly. Thanks go out to SkyTruth’s generous researchers Paul Woods and Craig Winters. We have converted an inventory of Ohio reports provided by SkyTruth into a GIS layer on our map, consisting of 1,191 events, including date and type, back to January 2012.

The layer is not visible until you zoom in twice from the default view on the map above. It appears as the silhouette of a person lying on the ground with Skull and crossbones next to it. View fullscreen>

Currently, the layer includes 28 hydraulic fracturing-related events, 61 “Big [Oil and Chemical] Spills,” and 1,102 additional events – most of which are concentrated in the urban centers of Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, and Toledo OH.

From a Utica Shale corporation perspective, 21 of the 28 reports are attributed to Chesapeake Operating, Inc. (aka, Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK)) or 75% of the hydraulic fracturing (HF) events, while CHK only accounts for 48% of all HF drilled, drilling, or producing wells in OH. Anadarko, Devon, Halcon, and Rex are responsible for the remaining 7 reports. They collectively account for 2.7% of the state’s current inventory of unconventional drilled, drilling, or producing wells.

[1] To contact the NRC for legal purposes, email efoia@uscg.mil. The NRC makes this data available back to 1982, but we decided to focus on the period beginning with the first year of Utica permits here in Ohio to the present (i.e., 2010-2013).

Local Actions and Local Regulations in California

By Kyle Ferrar, CA Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

The potential for large scale oil development in the Monterey and other shale basins has raised concern in California communities over the use of hydraulic fracturing and other unconventional well stimulation techniques, such as acidizing.  The fact that DOGGR was not tracking the use of these techniques, much less regulating them, has led to a variety of actions being taken by local governments.  Several groups including county directors, city councils, and neighborhood and community councils have passed resolutions supporting state-wide bans on hydraulic fracturing and other controversial stimulation techniques.  As can be seen in the following map, several of them are located within the greater LA metropolitan area, which is currently considering a local moratorium.

This map shows the local civic groups in the LA metropolitan area that have passed resolutions supporting statewide bans/moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing and other controversial stimulation activities.

This map shows the local civic groups [green check marks] in the LA metropolitan area that have passed resolutions supporting statewide bans/moratoriums on hydraulic fracturing and other controversial stimulation activities. Click on the map to view larger image.

Two local jurisdictions, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the County of Santa Barbara, have enacted their own measures to regulate oil and gas development.  Both require notification of drilling techniques, and Santa Barbara County requires operators to file for a unique permit when using hydraulic fracturing. Data from the county of Santa Barbara’s permitting program was not readily accessible – although it may well be that they have not issued any permits.  The South Coast Air Quality Management District is charged with managing the air quality for Orange County, the city of Los Angeles and the surrounding urban centers of Riverside and San Bernardino.  In the spring of 2013, the SCAQMD passed Southern California rule 1148.2.  The rule requires oil operators to submit specific reports of well activity documenting drilling, chemical use and the well stimulation techniques employed, directly to the SCAQMD.  Reportable methods include acidification, gravel packing, and hydraulic fracturing.  The rule was implemented June 2, 2013. The database of well-site data is readily accessible via the web.  Web users can obtain individual well summaries of drilling activity and chemical-use reports, or download the full data sets.  The site is user-friendly and the data is easily accessible. Unfortunately, the currently available data set is missing some of the most important information, specifically well API numbers – the unique identifier for all wells drilled in the United States.  This data gap makes it impossible to compare or cross-reference this data set with others.

AQMD Wellsites

FracTracker has mapped the well-sites reported on the SCAQMD in the new map on the California page titled California Local Actions, Monitoring and Regulations.  This map outlines the boundaries of SCAQMD and other sub-state regulatory agencies that have elected to manage the drilling activity.  Details on the programs are provided in the map layers.  The data published by the SCAQMD has been included in the map.  In the map above, if you compare the SCAQMD data layer to the Hydraulically Fractured dataset derived by combining DOGGR and FracFocus data, you can see that the two data sets do not look to include the same well sites.  Unfortunately, it cannot be known whether this is merely an issue of slightly dissimilar coordinates or legitimate data gaps; the SCAQMD data set lacks the API identifier for the majority of well sites reported.  Because the regulatory landscape tends to follow the political leadership that reflects the interests of the constituency, legislative districts have also been included as a viewable map layer.   Be active in your democracy.