by Katie Burford
The Durango Herald
April 19, 2010
Oil giant ExxonMobil, which is acquiring local producer XTO Energy, said last week that it supports the disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.
The company's board, in a statement filed last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said disclosing the chemicals would ease concerns about potential contamination from fracing, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into formations to break up the rock and release gas.
Companies in the past have balked at disclosing the make-up of the proprietary mixtures, arguing it would put them at a competitive disadvantage.
“ExxonMobil supports the disclosure of the identity of the ingredients being used in fracturing fluids at each site," the company said in the statement. “While we understand the intellectual property concerns of service companies when it comes to disclosing the proprietary formulations in their exact amounts, we believe the concerns of community members can be alleviated by the disclosure of all ingredients used in these fluids."
...Bruce Baizel, staff attorney for the Durango-based Oil & Gas Accountability Project, called ExxonMobil's position a significant step.
“I think we will see that that probably starts the shift toward getting the disclosure we've been working on," he said.
Once the chemicals are widely known, he said companies will be more likely to use green alternatives.
... environmental concerns about fracing have dogged the industry for years.
...a water-monitoring program... which is being overseen by state regulators with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is one of the most comprehensive in the country.
The final results of a study of the data are expected to be released later this month.
Though the monitoring does not test for proprietary fracing chemicals, said Karen Spray, an environmental protection specialist with the commission, it does look for a common component of the mixtures, potassium chloride.
Similarly, the presence of gas in the water could indicate a problem.
Under new state rules that went into effect last year, the state's oil and gas commission can compel companies to disclose their fracing chemicals when evidence of possible contamination exists.
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