Using Electronic Lab Notebooks to Ensure Compliance With Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations

ELN

hydraulic frackingGovernmental regulations on hydraulic fracturing are currently in flux. Electronic lab notebooks can help researchers at oil and gas companies find ways to remain in complianceImage Credit: Flickr user Simon Fraser University – University Communication

Over the past few years, the hydraulic fracturing boom in the United States has faced increasing governmental restrictions. While oil and gas companies are eager to build on the early successes of shale development, many interest groups are continuing to push for greater regulations on the industry, including disclosure requirements and limits on extraction procedures.

Researchers at oil and gas companies must carefully document their research methods and findings while they design new ways to improve hydraulic fracturing yields. As a result, once they implement results in a practical context, they can be sure to meet all the regulations that govern a particular well. Electronic lab notebooks offer the next-generation documentation and collaboration capabilities that researchers need in order to remain in compliance.

Coping With Frequent Changes in Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations

Right now, changes in hydraulic fracturing regulations are constant and complicated. For example, in August 2016, the Kansas Corporation Commission expanded existing restrictions on wastewater injection wells to include two new counties and certain parts of three others.1  There are also hydraulic fracturing-related initiatives on the November 2016 ballot in several states, including two proposals in Colorado alone.2  The frequent fluctuations in the regulatory environment can pose challenges for oil and gas researchers who are seeking to to improve the materials and methods used in hydraulic fracturing. When it comes time to implement their research-based recommendations at a particular well, they need to be able to quickly access previous data in order to make sure that the conclusions they drew are still in compliance with local laws. Electronic lab notebooks make it easy to access previous data, and, if necessary, use it to update or alter their recommendations based on new regulations.

Quick access to old experimental results can also be helpful when a new law requires changes to existing wells in a particular location. As researchers explore methods to keep wells both compliant and profitable, they can review previous experiments throughout the well’s lifetime. These results can highlight relevant information, such as particularly effective enhanced oil recovery methods or environmental factors that prevent the use of certain materials, allowing researchers to pinpoint ideal changes. With paper-based notebooks, researchers may have to comb through pages and pages of notes, wasting time and increasing the likelihood that critical information will get lost in the shuffle. Electronic lab notebooks streamline the process so that scientists can find the data they need to quickly implement solutions or conduct further tests that build on previous ones. That way, the company can make all of the oil wells in the area both compliant and profitable as quickly as possible.

Collaboration Between Research Teams in Different Locations

When a new hydraulic fracturing law mandates changes to existing or proposed wells in a certain location, researchers at oil and gas companies can learn from colleagues who have been required to make similar changes. For instance, when restrictions in one Kansas county are expanded into another, data-sharing between field teams can significantly speed the process of finding and implementing solutions to keep all their wells compliant and cost-effective.

In addition, data sharing across departments can benefit research teams. In order to identify the ideal changes, chemists testing new materials in the lab must be able to collaborate with their colleagues in the field who understand the environmental conditions of a particular well. They may also need to integrate their data with the findings of economic analysts who have their eyes on the company’s bottom line. With electronic lab notebooks, it’s easy for all of these researchers to access each other’s data in real time, thereby streamlining the company’s adaptation to new hydraulic fracturing regulations.

Disclosure Requirements for Oil and Gas Companies

In some locations, oil and gas companies are required to disclose information, such as the chemicals they use for hydraulic fracturing, to government authorities. Electronic lab notebooks ensure comprehensive documentation of research processes and results by preventing data loss and reducing the likelihood of manual error. That way, any necessary information can easily be made available to government bodies, even as companies make changes to their procedures and chemical formulations. Software-based documentation also ensures that if a locality passes a new law requiring the disclosure of particular materials or methods, as Montana recently did,3  oil companies won’t have any trouble retrieving the required information.

BIOVIA Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs) provide the comprehensive documentation and collaboration capabilities that oil and gas companies need in order to keep up with constantly changing hydraulic fracturing regulations. By making it easy for scientists to access previous results and efficiently share data with their colleagues, ELNs can help oil and gas companies find ways to stay in compliance while still reaping the economic benefits of shale oil development. Contact us today to learn more about our software-based solutions.

  1. “Hydraulic Fracturing: State Regulatory Roundup Vol. 48,” August 17, 2016, http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/hydraulic-fracturing-state-regulatory-91661/
  2. “In Colorado, anti-fracking referendums clear ballot hurdle,” August 9, 2016, http://www.cnbc.com/2016/08/09/in-colorado-anti-fracking-referendums-clear-ballot-hurdle.html
  3. “Montanans Have a Right to Know About Fracking Chemicals,” July 26, 2016, https://www.nrdc.org/experts/amanda-jahshan/montanans-have-right-know-about-fracking-chemicals