Open Frac Focus

Researchers: Sara Wylie, Gary Allison, Vivian Underhill, Sarah Lerman-Sinkoff, Angelica Fiuza

Fracking chemicals are partially disclosed via an industry-sponsored database called FracFocus, established in 2011. FracFocus is a private website not subject to federal record laws, and all data is self-reported by individual companies. While FracFocus provides data in formats notoriously difficult to analyze, Gary Allison created Open-FracFocus an open-source, public service project to scrub, clean, and organize FracFocus data. Open-FF uses python code stored at CodeOcean to convert FracFocus data into CSVs, with each discrete chemical use stored as its own record. Check out Gary’s work here and here. WEDJ lab uses Open-FracFocus data for three projects.

WEDJ lab research on the FracFocus database includes 3 projects. 

1. Quantifying the Halliburton Loophole: a “big data” project analyzing the presence, quantity, and locations of chemicals regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and disclosed by companies to FracFocus. 

2. Proprietary Chemicals: how can the absence of information from  FracFocus be studied as an object of empirical analysis? We examine how oilfield service companies benefit from intellectual property laws that permit the withholding of information about chemicals that companies deem “proprietary” or “trade secret”, at their discretion, and how this withholding precludes corporate responsibility and accountability for chemical violence associated with fracking. 

3. Mapping Estrogen Antagonists. Which areas in the Niobrara and Eagle Ford shale plays have been most intensely exposed to estrogen antagonists from fracking? We append data from laboratory assays to GIS-based spatial models to draw attention to the ways the oil and gas industry has intimately shaped what is known/unknown about these chemicals and the extent of environmental exposure. 

Contact Vivian Underhill at with any questions.