Thu Sep 24, 2009 5:42pm EDT
Editorializing by Splashdown in red.
NEW YORK - Two top U.S. natural gas producers called on the industry to release data about the chemicals they use in the fast-growing Marcellus shale development to counter fears it was polluting water supplies ... [tapping] into rock deposits and [releasing] natural gas using a process called "hydrofracturing" that injects water and chemicals into the deposits.
The vast energy potential of the field has drawn interest from dozens of companies, including Chesapeake Energy ..., who says the process is safe and will turn the Marcellus into a lucrative source of natural gas for decades.
"We as an industry need to demystify (hydrofracturing)," Aubrey McClendon, chief executive and chairman of Chesapeake, told an energy conference this week.
"We need to disclose the chemicals that we are using and search for alternatives to the chemicals we are using," he said.
Scientists have yet to find definitive evidence that drilling chemicals have seeped into ground, but dozens of anecdotal accounts have emerged that water supplies in gas-producing areas have been tainted.
People in gas-drilling areas say their well water has become discolored or foul-smelling, killing pets and farm animals who drink it and causing children to suffer from diarrhea and vomiting.
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania regulators cited Cabot Oil & Gas for spilling chemicals at a natural gas well. [ID:nN22368094]
Umm... the spill got into wetlands and a creek, and you didn't need a scientist to tell you that some fish died.
Environmentalists have complained that the energy companies refuse to disclose the specific chemicals used in the fluids that are injected into wells and then later stored in pools before undergoing treatment.
That lack of disclosure prevents them from testing water and soil samples for specific incidents of pollution.John Pinkerton, chief executive of Range Resources Corp ..., one of the first energy companies to enter the Marcellus, said producers' disclosures were limited by the oilfield service companies who do not want to release what they consider to be commercially sensitive information.
"We're under confidentiality contracts with the service companies," he told Reuters. "I've basically told them that this is not acceptable. It's a little silly to be honest."
Actually, when it proves lethal, as in the case of the 17 cows that died in a Louisiana pasture,
confidentiality is a bit more than silly.
A spokesman for Schlumberger said it and the chemical companies that provide the fluids release lists of chemicals, acids and salts typically used in the process, but that the chemical companies will not give more details.
"When it comes down to the different chemical makeup of these compounds, that's where it gets into proprietary third party information," the spokesman, Stephen Harris, said.
Halliburton said 99 percent of its fluid was made up of sand and water, and the remaining chemicals complied with state and federal regulations.
Yes, and time and again with these 'kills' it's apparently that ±1% that's proving to be lethal...
"We make a significant investment in developing effective fracturing fluid systems and we are careful to protect the fruits of the company's research and development efforts," Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said in an email.
Are they saying nothing is more important?
Louis Baldwin, chief financial officer of XTO Energy (XTO.N), said the number of incidents of spills or leakage was "infinitesimally small" given the thousands of wells in which hydrofracturing had been used.
CLICK HERE for an incomplete list of "quiet [sic] rare" incidents in just the past 6 months.
For the complete Reuters article, CLICK HERE.