DOE Releases Final Subcommittee Report on Shale Gas Regulation

report coverThe Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) is a panel of seven experts appointed by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu earlier this year with the task of creating a list of industry “best practices” for shale gas drillers. The SEAB produced an initial 90-day report in August with a list of 20 recommendations (see this MDN story on the report). The SEAB’s second and final 90-day report, in draft form, has just been released and will be voted on next week (a copy is available for download below).

The first report focused on crafting recommendations that would lessen the environmental impact of shale gas drilling so that, according to the SEAB, shale gas drilling can flourish with public support (MDN’s interpretation). But in order to do that, certain best practices and standards must be adopted by federal, state, local and industry participants. This second report focuses on how and when to implement those 20 recommendations.

From the Executive Summary of the final report:

The Subcommittee recognizes that successful implementation of each of its recommendations will require cooperation among and leadership by federal, state and local entities. In its initial report, the Subcommittee called for a process of continuous improvement and said: “This process should involve discussions and other collaborative efforts among companies involved in shale gas production (including service companies), state and federal regulators, and affected communities and public interest groups.”

The Subcommittee also believes it has a responsibility to assess and report progress in implementing the recommendations in its initial report. Too often advisory committee recommendations are ignored, not because of disagreement with substance, but because the implementation path is unclear or because of the press of more immediate matters on dedicated individuals who are over extended. The Subcommittee does not wish to see this happen to its recommendation, because it believes citizens expect prompt action. Absent action there will be little credible progress in toward reducing in the environmental impact of shale gas production, placing at risk the future of the enormous potential benefits of this domestic energy resource. At this early stage, it is reasonable to assess if initial, constructive, steps are underway; there is no expectation that any of the recommendations could be completely implemented in the three months since the Subcommittee issued its initial report.

And so the SEAB breaks their 20 recommendations into three groups in the final report:

  1. Recommendations ready for implementation, primarily by federal agencies;
  2. Recommendations ready for implementation, primarily by states;
  3. Recommendations that require new partnerships and mechanisms for success.

The final report also contains the original 20 recommendations in the appendix. The SEAB official website is: //

  • Anonymous

    What is your reaction to the Nov.7th article in called ‘ Cutting Waste in Gas Drilling ‘ by A.Brino and B. Nearing ? The word might finally be getting out LPG [propane] fracturing is well suited to New York State because  the infrastructure is already in place and the technology removes all the major environmental concerns opponents are using to stop drilling.The upfront cost of LPG fracturing is only about 20% more than hydro-fracturing if the LPG is recovered for reuse or resale.This will be more than compensated for once hydro-fracturing companies have to figure in the cost of dealing withe the frackwater and the extra requirements to control air pollution. Localities will favor LPG fracturing once they understand that truck traffic will be only a quarter of what it would be when compared with hydro-fracturing. By the way, the LPG carrying trucks  weigh much less that water trucks because LPG has half the density of water.Most important to landowners; from what public data is available comparing LPG fracturing to hydro-fracturing [ most drillers using LPG have not released data for competitive reasons ], is that reservoirs are larger from LPG fractured wells with higher daily flow rates and slower decline curves. That is money in the bank! Land Coalitions need to strongly encourage drilling companies in their area to partner up  with LPG technology. The first to do so may  have N.Y.S. as their private sandbox.

  • I appreciate your passion for this new technology. But leaving comments on this technology almost every day of the week on some story will not fly on MDN. If this is truly a miracle/breakthrough technology, the energy companies will let us know. My view: If it costs 20% more right now to use it, given the low commodity price of natural gas right now, it’s likely this technology is not economical right now for the vast majority of drillers. And it assumes/presumes there is something “wrong” with the current method of using water & sand–which I disagree with. There’s nothing wrong with it when it’s done properly.

    I’m all for new tech, better tech, but the marketplace must support it. An occasional comment calling attention to this new technology is fine…daily comments or several times per week is not.

  • Anonymous

    Jim as of right now there is only one company with proprietary rights to using LP to frack. The company is GASFRAC out of Calgary Canada. They right now sit on the “Microsoft Windows” of the Gas Fracking business. They have a technology that NO ONE (not even the psycho tree hugger) can dispute as the sefest way to frack NG. Yes the “conventional” way to frack with water, sand, and chemicals can be a thing of the past. No longer will a driller need to go through all the red tape to get water usage permits. No more threat of chemical spills going to and from sites or on site. It really leaves the antis with no where to go with their already baseless arguments.
    Last week they were awarded a prestigious award by their peers in the industry. They also have named a new CEO who is known to to be a “go getter”. In my opinion, GASFRAC will team up with one of the Giants in the industry and steamroll over NY. They do not need the dSEGIS to frack for gas in NY. While we wait for the Joe & Andy show to get their crap together NY could start booming with gas exploration. All I can say is I welcome this company (and those who will support them) with ARMS WIDE OPEN!!! 

  • Anonymous

    We have a common goal in that we both want development of natural gas in N.Y.S. Where I think we depart ways is; you think the fasted way is to push ahead over the fears [ largely unjustified ]  anti-drilling people have with  hydro-fracturing . I prefer to give people a choice of an undeniably cleaner method of gas development .The net effect will be  hydro-fracturing will continue to get greener to keep from being replaced. If you reread my last comment ,I ‘DID’ say that LPG fracturing is already competitive with hydro-fracturing when  considering the likely new requirements proposed by the D.E.C. on well clean up. I am puzzled why you dismiss out of hand the   data  out  in the public domain  that LPG fracturing could possibly mean anywhere from 25% to 50% more production [ meaning royalties to the landowners ] than comparable hydro-fracturing.Are you not at  least curious that that possibility exists? Gasfrac will have 4 new spreads ready to go in the 1st quarter of  2012. I would like to see at least one of them sent to N.Y.S.
      ‘Passion is the life’s blood of success’

  • The one point I’d like to interject is talking to the completion engineers and hands onsite, this stuff scares the bejeezus out of them!
    I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures of all the pump trucks lined up adding their horsepower going full-bore… now you add propane to the mix.  If you have a containment/pressure issue with a water frac, well you’ll have a cleanup on your hands.  If you have an issue with propane, all those engines and combustible gas make for a potentially scary scene.
    BUT, I think Jim brings up the most important point – it seems CURRENTLY cost prohibitive.  Perhaps something will change, but it looks to be a fringe technology in the near term.