Given the social and political climates surrounding the oil and natural gas industry in North America, and more specifically hydraulic fracturing, the health, safety and education of the public and employees of operating companies is paramount. The two most common approaches being used to achieve this are using "Greener" chemistries and Full Chemical Disclosure. This paper investigates the characteristics of these two approaches, the differences between them, and the issues facing each.
One approach to protecting the health and safety of the public is by applying environmentally responsible processes, materials and equipment, also known as being "Green". Additionally the industry is striving to be as transparent as possible with public, state and federal agencies. Herein lies the tension between these two approaches: Full Chemical Disclosure is not the same as using Green chemistries. Green chemistries are being developed across the industry and contain vast amounts of intellectual property (IP) and proprietary knowledge. In order to protect the IP of these chemistries, not all of these will be available for full disclosure. This presents a major challenge in communicating with the public, which is demanding complete transparency based on the right to know what is being injected into oil and gas formations, usually far below potable water zones.
There is no universal industry definition of Green. Much of the meaning associated with the term is in the eye of the beholder. Compounding the issue, there are multiple state and federal regulations that outline what full disclosure entails. There are now 25 U.S. states that require some form of disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations, up from only six states in 2011, very few of which have the same set of criteria.
This paper contains information that compares and contrasts the two approaches that are generally accepted in the industry: Green and full disclosure. It also covers state and federal regulations and some of the issues that surround them. In order for everyone to move forward on a united front, a committee of industry, state, and federal members should be formed to develop an accepted definition of Green.