How Can Chemical Management Help Oil and Gas Companies in the Face of Increased Scrutiny?

chemical management
While hydraulic fracturing revitalized the U.S. oil and gas industry, it remains a controversial process. What can oil and gas firms do to allay public concern?
Image source: Flickr CC user Natalie Maynor

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as the technique is more commonly called, transformed the United States oil and gas industry when its usage gained popularity in the early 2000s. Widespread adoption of fracking drove oil production to levels not seen since the 1980s and allowed the U.S. to compete with Saudi Arabia and Russia as a global supplier. On the domestic front, fracking is credited with boosting the economy and creating jobs.

Unfortunately, the technique remains controversial and many anti-fracking advocates push for its banning.1 Hydraulic fracturing involves spraying a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into deep-rock formations to release gas. As a result, critics worry about potential environmental effects such as water contamination by hazardous chemicals or increased risk of earthquake due to causing ground instability.

Whether these concerns are founded or not, public opinion does have an impact on legislation and regulations. Lawmakers are elected by the general public, after all. For example, persistent concern over the chemicals used during the fracking process has led to calls for disclosure. Colorado is working on drafting new local-control rules for oil drilling near homes and public facilities.2 If oil and gas companies want to ease the pressure to ban fracking, they’ll need to win over the public. Since many of the concerns revolve around the chemicals used during the process, oil and firms would benefit from the use of a chemical management system.

Chemical Management Can Aid Oil and Gas Firms in Their Transparency Efforts

New regulations for chemical disclosure mean that oil and gas companies need to know what materials are in their inventory and in what amounts. With the use of a chemical management system, users can track chemicals through their life cycle from intake to disposal. Through barcode technology, users can note where chemicals are located and even remain aware of working volumes in real time.

An efficient chemical management system collects this information into a centralized location that users can access at any time, provided they have the proper credentials. If companies are required to disclose chemical usage to agencies, they can use the system to look up the relevant information. Rather than letting new regulations add inefficiency and strain resources, a chemical management system will streamline the process and save time.

Chemicals Management Can Aid Oil and Gas Firms with Safety

Even though the mixtures used are often propriety, companies can still gain support by showing that they’re storing, handling, and disposing of chemicals and their associated waste safely. If the worst case scenario does happen, companies must demonstrate they’re capable of handling the emergency quickly while minimizing public exposure. Doing so will go a long way to convincing the public that fracking isn’t a process that puts people and the surrounding environment into danger.

With a chemical management system, firms can link safety data sheets to inventory. Instead of referring to dusty binders located on forgotten shelves, users can look up safety information from within the management system. Safety data sheets contain handling and storage details such as what personal protective gear to wear while using or whether the chemical needs to be stored with flammables or corrosives. In addition, safety data sheets detail how to dispose of chemical waste properly and what to do in case of a spill. While studies have shown that fracking doesn’t pose a risk to our drinking water3, the best way to sway the public into actually believing the research is to show them that chemical waste from fracking is dealt with appropriately.

Considering the current state of the global oil and gas market, U.S. companies will need to do everything in their power to remain competitive. In order for fracking to remain a viable, thriving technique, public support must be gained. One way to do so is by demonstrating strong chemical management that promotes safety and transparency.

Is your oil and gas firm interested in learning how to meet new disclosure guidelines and regulations? BIOVIA CISPro is a chemical management system that helps companies improve their chemical handling, storage and compliance. Contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Groups Gather at Nation’s Capitol to Pressure Congress to Ban Fracking on Public Lands,” October 22, 2015, http://ecowatch.com/2015/10/22/ban-fracking-public-lands-dc/
  2. “Local-control rules for oil and gas drilling in Colorado coming soon,” September 19, 2015, http://www.coloradostatesman.com/content/996148-local-control-rules-oil-and-gas-drilling-colorado-coming-soon
  3. “Yale Study: Fracking Not To Blame For Water Contamination,” October 26, 2015, http://www.wateronline.com/doc/yale-study-fracking-blame-water-contamination-0001

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