Big Natural Gas Producers Set Voluntary Fracking Standards

June 2012 Vol. 239 No. 6

Nearly a dozen major energy companies, including Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell have developed standards for hydraulic fracturing in the Appalachian region as federal regulators look to answer concerns with tightened drilling rules, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

The companies said their shared set of voluntary practices demonstrates the industry's commitment to responsible drilling. The industry-led effort coincides with an aggressive push by the Obama administration to develop national rules for hydraulic fracking. The Environmental Protection Agency released rules in April designed to control methane and organic chemicals from fracked wells and the Interior Department is in the process of writing rules for hydraulic fracturing on public lands.

Oil and natural gas companies say the states are doing an adequate job of regulating hydraulic fracturing. They criticize the administration for launching multiple, and potentially overlapping, efforts to study or regulate the practice.

The standards released May 1 address best practices for drilling, well design, water use and equipment use. They also include ways to reach out to residents who live near natural gas production sites, often the most vocal opponents of hydraulic fracturing.