Frack Chemicals Disclosure Made
Baker Hughes will list 100 percent of contents
26 April 2014
By Kevin Boggs, Associated Press Writer
PITTSBURGH - The U.S. Department of Energy said Friday that it
welcomes the decision by oil and gas industry supplier Baker
Hughes to disclose all chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluid.
But Halliburton, a major competitor in the field, isn't committing
to such disclosure.
Deputy Assistant Energy Secretary Paula Gant said that Baker
Hughes' move "is an important step in building public confidence"
and the department "hopes others will follow their lead."
The oil and gas industry has said the fracking chemicals are
disclosed at tens of thousands of wells, but environmental and
health groups and government regulators decry a loophole that
allows companies to hide chemical "trade secrets."
Houston-based Halliburton said Friday that it's studying the move
by Baker Hughes, which is also based in that city. Halliburton
said it had an interest in protecting "our intellectual property
and the substantial investment it represents" and will examine the
new Baker Hughes format for its ability to protect such
Baker Hughes said it now believes it's possible to disclose 100
percent "of the chemical ingredients we use in hydraulic
fracturing fluids without compromising our formulations," to
increase public trust.
Baker Hughes spokeswoman Melanie Kania wrote in an email that it
will take "several months" for the new policy to take effect. She
said the end result will be a "single list" that provides "all the
chemical constituents" for frack fluids, with no trade secrets.
A boom in drilling has led to tens of thousands of new wells being
drilled in recent years using the fracking process. A mix of
water, sand and chemicals is forced into deep underground
formations to break rock apart and free oil and gas. That's led to
major economic benefits but also fears that the chemicals could
spread to water supplies.
The mix of chemicals varies by company and region - and some of
the chemicals are toxic and could cause health problems in
significant doses - so the lack of full transparency has worried
landowners and public health experts.
Many companies voluntarily disclose the contents of their fracking
fluids through FracFocus.org, a website partially funded by the
oil and gas industry that tracks fracking operations nationwide.
But critics say the website has loose reporting standards and
allows companies to avoid disclosure by declaring certain
chemicals as trade secrets.
A U.S. Energy Department Task Force report issued in March found
that 84 percent of the wells registered on FracFocus invoked a
trade secret exemption for at least one chemical. The Task Force
said it "favors full disclosure of all known constituents added to
fracturing fluid with few, if any exceptions."