To achieve third-party certification from the CSSD (Center for Sustainable Shale Development), energy companies embarking in fracking activities to extract shale gas must adhere to 15 initial performance standards – these are designed to protect air quality, water resources and the climate. They include:
Air & Climate Performance Standards:
- Limitations on Flaring
- Use of Green Completions
- Reduced Engine Emissions
- Emissions Controls on Storage Tanks
Surface & Ground Water Performance Standards
- Maximizing Water Recycling
- Development of Groundwater Protection Plan
- Closed Loop Drilling
- Well Casing Design
- Groundwater Monitoring
- Wastewater Disposal
- Impoundment Integrity
- Reduced Toxicity Fracturing Fluid
Focuses on Shale Gas extraction in the Appalachian Basin, which includes the US states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and parts of Maryland as well as New York. Among the first to undergo evaluation for the certification are the founding participants - these are: Shell, Chevron, EQT Corp., and Consol Energy. The first annual report detailing which companies have achieved certification, as well as market coverage statistics, is expected to be released at the end of 2014. Meanwhile, in he US, the use of shale gas is on the up - according to a report from Chatham House, it only provided 1 per cent of the US natural gas production in 2000 but by 2010 it was over 20 per cent. Furthermore, the US Government's Energy Information Administration predicts that, by 2035, the figure will have increased to 46 per cent.
The certification was launched in January 2014. The initial stages of the certification are being conducted by the external auditors, the Bureau Veritas - a leading risk management company - using both desk-based and field audits. CSSD have said that they will regularly review the auditor's outputs to ensure that they meet CSSD's high standards - this includes field audits of the auditors themselves. If companies with certification are found to be lacking during an audit, they will be given 30 days to implement corrective action otherwise they will loose their accreditation. For companies that earn certification, a summary of the final audit report will be published on the CSSD website. Also, CSSD will release a report annually in which they will reveal which companies applied for the certification and also summarise their market coverage.
Money is raised through various philanthropic foundations and participating energy companies.
CSSD have said that they are committed to adopting further innovations which can be incorporated into their standards in the future and they will take inputs from regulators, auditors, operators, environmental groups and other stakeholders.