Disclosing the Hydraulic Fracturing Mixture

- (KMID) - Under state regulations, oil companies must release the ingredients in their hydraulic fracturing fluid.

But after critics expressed their concerns for loopholes, Baker Hughes, one of the largest pressure pumping companies said it would make all of hydraulic fracturing fluid ingredients public.

“While state law only requires the disclosure of some of the ingredients, further disclosure to the appropriate government entity is something that has been asked for by many of my constituents in energy-producing areas,” said Texas State Senator Carlos Uresti. 

“This is a big step toward further public acceptance of fracking and the economic opportunities that it has brought to many of our communities.”

But various local companies in the Permian Basin say this will not affect them in any way, even calling it good advertisement from Baker Hughes.

“There is not as much intrigue around the components of hydraulic fracturing additives as one might be led to think,” said Steven H. Pruett, President & CEO of Elevation Resources.

That’s because the state regulations have always asked for disclosure through FracFocus, the national hydraulic fracturing chemical registry. 

The problem begins when pressure pumping companies purchase patented products to use in their hydraulic fracturing fluid.

“Some of the chemicals they purchase to put in the frac fluid are patented and they are not allowed to reveal that,” Pruett said.

So what is in hydraulic fracturing fluid?

“Out of hydraulic fracturing treatment there is hundreds of thousands of gallons of water involved, there is millions of pounds of sand,” Pruett said.

According to CUDD energy, in addition to the water and the sand, the mix includes guar, a natural bean grown in India; borate, a mineral used in detergents or cosmetics; surfactant, or soap; breaker, what's used in Oxyclean; and bactericide--- what's used in Lysol.

“A material that's like Jell-O when we get through it,” said Clint Walker, General Manager of CUDD Energy Services. “It's very thick so it will suspend and hold that sand. Not only does it create a wider structure, it allows us to get more sand into the formation.”

But that Jell-O-like substance eventually comes back out of the rocks.

“Part of the chemistry is that after a certain time that will break back to water and it comes out as water,” Walker said. “It doesn’t come out as polluted water, it comes out as produced water.”

Something that walker considers a safe part of the job.

“The chemicals that you have under your kitchen sink are a lot more dangerous than a gallon of a frac fluid, of the fluid that we pump.”

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