Chesapeake Energy Corp. is testing hydraulic-fracturing, or fracking, fluids that it says would be composed solely of environmentally benign components in wells.
Chesapeake, the second-largest U.S. producer of natural gas, plans to develop what it said is a 100 percent green mixture of fluids used to fracture gas and oil formations underground. Jody C. Jones, the company’s manager of environmental and regulatory affairs, disclosed the information during a gathering of energy-industry executives in Columbus.
Hydraulic fracturing involves using high-pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals to smash fissures into rocks so gas and oil may flow. Current fluid formulations often include hazardous components such as hydrochloric acid or diesel fuel. Environmentalists say the practice poses a threat to water supplies.
Oklahoma-based Chesapeake, which has been pursuing drilling in eastern Ohio, is testing various green recipes in several shale formations that Jones declined to identify.
“It’s not quite there yet,” Jones said at the Utica Shale Development & Growth Forum. “The main concern with testing something like this is you just spent $4 to $6 million to drill a well and taking an untested frack system and shooting it down a well could ruin a reservoir and you’d be throwing away all that money.”
Chesapeake is experimenting with green fracking fluids to minimize threats from surface spills near lakes, creeks and rivers that abut drilling sites, Jones said. Such formulations also would reduce workers’ exposure to potentially harmful substances, he said.
Other companies including Baker Hughes Inc. and Halliburton Co. have been developing similar environmentally friendly fluids and techniques.
Baker Hughes Inc., the world’s third-largest provider of fracking services, offers a fluid called “VaporFrac” that replaces almost all of the water used in fracking with nitrogen-based foam.
Halliburton, the world’s largest fracking company, now offers what it calls “Clean-Stim,” which uses food-safe ingredients to stifle the growth of subterranean bacteria that can form a thick slime and impede oil and gas flow.
It has also developed a process using ultraviolet light to kill bacteria in the fracking fluid, pairing the technology with a recycling process called “CleanWave” that uses an electrical charge to separate contaminants and clean the water.