The Vinson & Elkins Shale and Fracking Tracker
Our Shale and Fracking Tracker focuses on legal, regulatory and other newsworthy developments that affect our clients involved in recovering oil and gas from the emerging shale plays using the critical techniques of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Our Fracking Tracker is a product of our Shale and Fracking Practice Group, a cross-disciplinary and international team led by senior members of our Litigation, Environmental, Transactional, and Intellectual Property practice groups. Visit our V&E Fracking Practice Group page to learn more about our attorneys and our practice in this dynamic area.
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March 30, 2016 - New USGS Forecast Includes Seismic Events Attributable to Human Activities
On March 28, 2016, the United States Geological Survey (“USGS”) published its first projection of seismic risk that includes seismicity potentially attributable to human activities such as fluid injection or extraction. The report, titled the 2016 One-Year Seismic Hazard Forecast for the Central and Eastern United States from Induced and Natural Earthquakes, does not “explore the causes of the increased seismicity, but rather [tries] to find a way to quantify the associated hazard.” Nonetheless, the model that underlies the report took into account the locations of oil and gas plays, sedimentary basins, and wells. The report concludes that areas in Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas face increased seismicity risks due to active injection areas. The report identifies an area spanning north-central Oklahoma and southern Kansas, where the injection of produced water is common, as the area most at risk. Read the report in full here.
February 17, 2016 - Sierra Club Files Suit Against Oklahoma Operators
On February 16, 2016, the Sierra Club filed a federal citizen suit against multiple operators in the Western District of Oklahoma. The suit alleges that the defendants’ use of wastewater injection wells presents an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment,” in violation of RCRA, because it supposedly causes “waste-induced earthquakes.” It asks the court to order defendants to substantially reduce the volume of wastewater they inject into disposal wells, reinforce vulnerable structures, and establish a seismic activity monitoring center to further analyze (and predict) the potential for seismic effects of underground injection of oilfield wastes. It should be difficult for the Sierra Club to prosecute its case in a court of law, and questions abound as to the applicability of RCRA to the underlying allegations, but the court of public opinion may be the group’s intended venue. Read the complaint here.
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Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Disclosure Requirements
Vinson & Elkins’ Shale & Fracking Practice Group has updated its comprehensive Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Disclosure Requirements chart that summarizes state law for both current and proposed hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure requirements. The chart updates the hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure laws for Ohio, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania. States that currently require disclosures related to hydraulic fracturing fluids include Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia and Wyoming. States with proposed disclosure requirements include California, Idaho, Illinois, Nebraska, and New York. Additionally, Michigan is currently considering legislation to change its disclosure requirements. The chart also covers the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure requirements for drilling on federal lands.
The chart notes required disclosures, any trade secret or proprietary information protection provisions in the disclosure requirements, how the disclosure must occur, and when operators must make the required disclosures. Click here to view the chart. We will update the chart as new rules are proposed and adopted, so please check the website periodically for updates.