Diesel Fuel In Hydraulic Fracturing Threatens Aquifers | February 11, 2008 Issue - Vol. 86 Issue 6 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 86 Issue 6 | Web Exclusive
Issue Date: February 11, 2008

Diesel Fuel In Hydraulic Fracturing Threatens Aquifers

Department: Government & Policy
News Channels: Environmental SCENE

The Environmental Protection Agency has been concerned about the use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing operations because if this diesel-containing fluid finds its way into a drinking water aquifer, the water would be unfit to drink for decades.

In an attempt to protect against such aquifer contamination, EPA signed a voluntary memorandum of understanding in 2003 with three companies that handle about 95% of hydraulic fracturing—Halliburton, Schlumberger Technology, and BJ Services. In the agreement, the companies promised not to use diesel fuel—which contains benzene, toluene, and xylene—in fracturing.

But according to staff from the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, there is evidence that some companies continued to use diesel fuel, at least to a limited extent. In November, Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) wrote to the firms that had signed the agreement and to two other big drilling companies to ask for information about their use of additives in hydraulic fracturing. In the letter, he requested data showing the chemical makeup of the fracturing fluids used and the total volumes of the companies' production in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

As the committee waits to hear back from the companies, at least one of the firms is on record saying it does not use diesel fuel. At a Bureau of Land Management advisory council meeting held on Nov. 16, 2007, in Colorado, Halliburton Technical Manager Mike Eberhard said, "Halliburton does not use diesel anymore as a carrier for guar gum and prides itself in that." But, he added "I cannot speak for other service companies."

 

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