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Environment & Energy

Watchdog Group FracTracker Launches iPhone App to Monitor Drilling Sites

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FracTracker
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The FracTracker Alliance, a nonprofit oil and gas industry watchdog, has launched a free iPhone app that allows users to track and report on the quality of nearby wells.

“Your geolocation gets shared with the app and so you can actually immediately see unconventional and conventional oil and gas wells near you…” said Samantha Malone, manager of education, communication and partnerships with FracTracker. “You can click on wells to see more information about a particular site, such as the operator or when it was drilled.”

Conventional drilling is a more traditional vertical oil and gas extraction process, whereas unconventional drilling uses hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, according to Malone.

She said the app also lets users post pictures and make comments about individual well sites, which provides a new level of public engagement.

“This is not just about collecting quantitative data in the sense of where wells are or where a violation is occurring, but say they [an app user] are very impressed by how drilling activity is occurring near them and they want to share a good report, they can do that. But they can also share whether there’s an incident or a concern,” Malone said.

The app does not show a list of the chemicals used at each well site, but Malone said FracTracker is working to collect that data and hopes to include it in future versions.

With fracking being such a polarizing issue, Malone said those at FracTracker will actively police the app for false information and abusive comments.

“We do moderate all of the incoming comments and photos just to make sure that at least what is being provided is fair,” she said.

Right now, the app is only available for iPhone users, but an Android version is expected later this year.