Baker Hughes to disclose all chemicals in its fracking fluids

Washington (Platts)--24Apr2014/552 pm EDT/2152 GMT


The same day a federal advisory committee on natural gas recommended fuller disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, Baker Hughes quietly changed its policy and committed to listing all the chemicals used in its frack fluids.

"Baker Hughes believes it is possible to disclose 100% of the chemical ingredients we use in hydraulic fracturing fluids without compromising our formulations," the company's website said Thursday afternoon.

A company spokeswoman said the policy change was made March 28, the same day as the federal task force meeting on FracFocus.

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The Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board on Natural Gas, of which former CIA chief and MIT chemistry professor John Deutch is chairman, voted unanimously at that meeting to recommend that companies list all the chemicals used in their fracking fluids.

"The task force favors full disclosure of all known constituents added to fracturing fluids with few, if any, exceptions," task force report approved at the meeting.

The task force reasoned that fracking would never gain public acceptance without greater disclosure of the chemicals that service companies are injecting into the ground, even if most of those compounds flow right back to the surface.

The policy change puts Baker Hughes in conflict with its competitors in the fracking business. Halliburton, Schlumberger, and BJ Services have all said a full listing of the chemicals in the fracking compounds would be giving away trade secrets.

"It will take several months for us to complete negotiations with all of our suppliers, ensure compatibility with all of our customers' data collection processes, and transition our automated reporting tool," Baker Hughes spokeswoman Melanie Kania said Thursday in an interview.

"The new format aggregates into a single list all the chemical constituents in the products pumped, so that chemical constituents are not associated with their respective products, thus protecting formulations," Kania added.

Baker Hughes said it will list the chemicals both on FracFocus.org, the website that discloses injections for individual wells in the US, as well as on any additional forms required by the state where a well is being drilled. Pennsylvania, for instance, requires operators to report fracking compounds (with trade secret protections) to FracFocus and on a separate form to the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Deutch made it clear during meetings of the natural gas advisory board that he thought the service companies' concerns about trade secret protection were overblown. The listing of chemicals without providing the exact proportions or formulas would be protection enough, he said.

--Bill Holland, bill.holland@platts.com
--Edited by Valarie Jackson, valarie.jackson@platts.com

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