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ASTM Focuses on Frac Sand Standards


A newly formed ASTM International subcommittee will address the growing need for consensus standards in the field of hydraulic fracturing. Subcommittee D18.26 on Hydraulic Fracturing, which is part of ASTM Committee D18 on Soil and Rock, will bring together a diverse range of stakeholders to collaborate on the development of standards that promote best practices in hydraulic fracturing operations and serve as a steward of environmental resources.

With the boom in hydraulic fracturing operations comes increasing concerns in the public and private sector for safety in site infrastructure and well construction, as well as the potential downstream impact on water, land and air resources.

To provide best practices for hydraulic fracturing, diverse stakeholders are coming together to develop standards that will cover:

  • Background site investigation and permitting.
  • Well installation and borehole integrity testing.
  • Engineering and drilling techniques.
  • Management and disposal of drilling fluids.
  • Groundwater monitoring and remediation.
  • Reinjection of produced well fluids.
  • Permanent well abandonment and data reporting.

“As the oil and gas industry looks to tap into the vast energy resources in shale formations across the U.S., the surge in hydraulic fracturing activity is expected to continue for years to come,” said Kenneth R. Bell, Ph.D., P.E., D.GE, corporate manager of geotechnical and hydraulic engineering services at Bechtel Corp., and vice chairman of ASTM Committee D18. “New standards developed by D18.26 will help direct the work of the industry so that these operations can be performed to accepted best practices and oil and gas can be recovered in a safe and secure manner.”

The efforts of Subcommittee D18.26 will be undertaken by the broad cross-section of stakeholders who are joining forces in the open and consensus-driven ASTM process to collaborate on the development of critical standards and achieve mutually beneficial goals. D18.26 will draw its membership from all sides and points of view relative to the hydraulic fracturing issue, including representatives from the oil and gas industry, environmental groups, engineering firms, federal regulators, state and local governments, permitting bodies and academia.

“ASTM is the ideal forum for this effort, a true neutral ground where all interested parties can have their voice heard and shape the direction of future standards for hydraulic fracturing,” said Dr. John T. Germaine, Ph.D. of the department of civil and environmental engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, vice chairman of Committee D18, and the leader of the task group that formed D18.26. “By participating on this subcommittee, stakeholders can freely air out issues and collaborate on standards that are fair and reasonable, provide guidance for all involved, and serve as the watchdog for the needs of the environment.