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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August 29, 2014 - Texas Railroad Commission Proposes New Rule Addressing Seismic Events for Disposal Wells
Today, the Texas Railroad Commission (“RRC”) published a proposed rule that would impose new permitting requirements for oilfield waste injection wells. The requirements are intended to address concerns that the technique could be inducing earthquakes in parts of the state.
The proposed rule would require companies planning to locate a disposal well in an area where there is an increased risk of fluid migration to submit information such as location of historic seismic events, as well as logs, geologic cross-sections, and/or structure maps to show the well is safe. Such “increased risk” areas may include, for example, areas with complex geology, proximity of the baserock to the injection interval, transmissive faults, and/or a history of seismic events in the area.
If “injection is suspected of or shown to be causing seismic activity,” the RRC would have the authority to modify, suspend, or terminate the operating permit for the well. The RRC estimates that the new requirements would cost applicants approximately $300 more per disposal well permit. The proposal was published in the Texas Register on August 29, 2014, and the RRC will accept public comments on the proposal until noon on September 29, 2014. Read the proposed rulemaking here.
July 14, 2014 - EPA Extends Comment Period for Fluid Disclosure Rules
EPA has extended the period for submitting comments on its proposal to promulgate rules requiring the public disclosure of chemical substances and mixtures used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The July 14 notice extends the comment period to September 18, 2014. EPA’s May 19, 2014 advance notice of proposed rulemaking (“ANPR”) initiated a stakeholder process requesting input regarding (1) the information that should be collected from hydraulic fracturing operators regarding the chemicals and mixtures they use, (2) how that information should be obtained and disclosed, (3) best management practices related to collecting and reporting such information, (4) ways to avoid burdens duplicative of those required under other agencies’ regulatory schemes, and (5) incentives or recognition programs to support the use of safe chemicals in hydraulic fracturing operations. EPA will consider the input it receives during the comment period in developing a proposed rule that it intends to promulgate pursuant to its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Read the May 19, 2014 ANPR here and the July 14, 2014 notice to extend the comment period 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.