The National Petroleum Agency (ANP) in Brazil has released the rules for the extraction of unconventional gas in the country using the technique of hydraulic fracturing commonly known as “fracking”.

The regulations require that gas extraction does not harm the environment or human health, according to a statement released by the regulator on the hydrocarbon sector.

Among other measures, ANP has banned ” fracking ” less than 200 meters from wells used for domestic, public and industrial water supply, irrigation or watering serving of animals.

The new regulations require that the wells are coated with cement to avoid gas leaks associated with the technique of ” fracking ” due to its potential environmental impact that has already caused controversy in many countries.

Before drafting the standard, the ANP allowed for public comment for 30 days, at which time 150 comments and suggestions from businesses, citizens and civil society organizations were collected.

Last November, the ANP made the first bid for the award of exploration blocks of unconventional gas, with the aim of conducting survey to identify basins of such hydrocarbons.

Hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing is a technique in which typically water is mixed with sand and chemicals, and the mixture is injected at high pressure into a wellbore to create small fractures (typically less than 1mm), along which fluids such as gas, petroleum, uranium-bearing solution, and brine water may migrate to the well.

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing point to environmental risks, including contamination of ground water, depletion of fresh water, contamination of the air, noise pollution, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface. There are also risks of  surface contamination from spills and flow-back, and the possible impact of these on human health.