The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Standards: The Key to Doing Shale Right

Mark Green

Mark Green
Posted October 13, 2011

Industry is committed to getting it right when it comes to producing energy from shale.

Advances in hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling have sparked a revolution in getting natural gas from shale. Yet along with that comes the obligation to operate responsibly and to be good neighbors to communities where drilling is occurring. Both of those hinge on high standards. The good news: We have them.

In a conference call with reporters Thursday, API Executive Vice President Marty Durbin talked about a sustainable shale revolution, built on a foundation of state regulation, API standards and industry practices:

"The industry is raising the bar on safety and working constructively with regulators, policymakers and local communities to help build their trust and support so that we can continue producing the energy we know our nation will need."

In fact, API's standards regime just recently was reaccredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which is the country's premier evaluator of standards-setting programs. ANSI's seal of approval, following a 2010 audit, validates the rigorous process that produced them.

More than that, it means people living in shale-producing areas can know that industry isn't just talking about performance, it's also establishing sound expectations for materials and procedures in the field.

Industry standards and effective state regulatory programs - refined with the help of the STRONGER organization, a non-profit group that helps states develop and review oil and natural gas regulations - form a solid basis for public confidence.

Can things be improved? Absolutely. That's why individual parts of API's program are reviewed at least every five years. Meanwhile, the states are regularly incorporating new knowledge into programs tailored for their specific terrains, geologies, hydrologic features and more.

The result is an effective, state-based system. That was the analysis of Kathleen McGinty, a member of the Energy Department's shale gas advisory committee, who talked to a Senate panel about hydraulic fracturing regulation last week:

"We didn't say the deck chairs need to be shuffled around. There was nothing that led us to the glaring conclusion that there was an actor missing from the scene. ... The states are doing a good job. We don't make recommendations that a different entity ought to [regulate], though we do make recommendations more needs to be done."

Energy from shale is changing this country's energy outlook. It's creating jobs - 72,000 in Pennsylvania from late 2009 to early 2011 - and generating revenues for the states: helping North Dakota produce a $1 billion surplus and boosting receipts in Arkansas by more than $1.5 billion over the past few years. The benefits of this revolution are tangible and welcome. Industry is trying to do its part to keep it going safely and responsibly.

To learn more, visit the Energy From Shale web site.


Mark Green joined API after a career in newspaper journalism, including 16 years as national editorial writer for The Oklahoman in the paper’s Washington bureau. Mark also was a reporter, copy editor and sports editor. He earned his journalism degree from the University of Oklahoma and master’s in journalism and public affairs from American University. He and his wife Pamela live in Occoquan, Va., where they enjoy their four grandchildren.