Focus on fracking

If you want to know what is used in the fracking process in oil and gas wells in the oil patch, you can turn to the website

“A requirement was approved on Aug. 1, 2012, that any chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing must be disclosed on,” said Alison Ritter, public information officer for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources in Bismarck.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is the process of using a specially blended liquid that is pumped into a well under extreme pressure causing cracks in rock formations underground. The cracks in the rock then allow oil and natural gas to flow, increasing production.

FracFocus, the national hydraulic fracturing chemical registry, is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

The website lists the chemicals used in the fracking process, Ritter said. She said there are still some things that are considered proprietary just like Coca-Cola. “You know what’s in Coca-Cola but you don’t know in what amounts,” she said.

Ritter said the state department has done audits on companies and when they did the first audit there were 9 companies that were in violation of not reporting to FracFocus. “Then after discussing it with the companies it turns out they were trying to work out their reporting process on how it was all going to work. We sent them a letter and made sure they have it correctly,” she said.

The website was created to provide the public access to reported chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing within their area, according to website information.

Its primary purpose is to provide factual information concerning hydraulic fracturing and groundwater protection. But it is not intended to argue either for or against the use of hydraulic fracturing as a technology and it is also not intended to provide a scientific analysis of risk associated with hydraulic fracturing.

While FracFocus is not intended to replace or supplant any state governmental information systems it is being used by a number of states as a means of official state chemical disclosure. Currently, eight states: Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Mississippi and Pennsylvania use FracFocus in this manner, according to the website.