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August 23, 2011 08:39 PM UTC

Chug That Fracking Fluid!

  • by: Colorado Pols

Funny stuff from the AP’s Catherine Tsai via the Durango Herald:

An energy company executive’s sip of fracking fluid at an industry conference this month has been called a demonstration by some and a stunt by others, but it’s bringing attention to new recipes for hydraulic fracturing fluids that in the past have contained chemicals commonly used for antifreeze or bleaching hair…

[Halliburton Co. CEO Dave Lesar] raised a container of Halliburton’s new fracking fluid made from materials sourced from the food industry, then called up a fellow executive to demonstrate how safe it was by drinking it, according to two attendees.

The executive mocked reluctance, then took a swig.

What he drank was apparently CleanStim, which, when Halliburton announced it in November, was undergoing field trials.

It’s a great stunt for the oil and gas industry but it’s not likely to appease critics of hydraulic fracturing in drilling, known as “fracking,” who contend that “food industry” ingredients in a substance pumped underground in large quantities can still be plenty bad for the environment. And of course, this is Halliburton’s new experimental “environmentally safer” brew–to be distinguished from whatever it is they’ve been pumping into the ground for years.

On the other hand, as the story continues, maybe one shouldn’t knock progress:

As fracturing evolves, engineers have found other substances besides synthetic chemicals to perform those functions, said Colorado State University environmental engineering professor Ken Carlson, who also attended the conference.

“The thing I took away is the industry is stepping up to plate and taking these concerns seriously,” Carlson said. “Halliburton is showing they can get the same economic benefits or close to that by putting a little effort into reformulating the fluids.”

Frankly, that’s a case we’ve heard made by lots of pragmatic enviros in Colorado–and residents in energy producing regions of the state who value both the economic growth that drilling brings, and the natural environment they live and work in. The case they make is simple: the energy industry can afford to do this right. If “CleanStim” really is cleaner, it could be a sign that the industry agrees–good news for all sides in the long debate over “fracking.”


12 thoughts on “Chug That Fracking Fluid!

  1. Why won’t they tell us what it is. And don’t feed me that old “competitive secret” crap. Halliburton isn’t smart enough to think up a formula that everyone else isn’t working with too. They rely on political and economic power to get what they want, not actual smarts.

  2. I think I am going to go on the side of pragmatism.  I am no fan of the oil and gas industry in general, but in this case they appear to be hearing the concerns, becoming prepared for fracking regs reality, and working on a better solution than the same old stuff.  I agree there needs to be more transperancy into the frack fluids, geo studies into the subsurface effects, controls on the drilling process…

    The reality is that until we all put solar and mini turbines on our homes to power our electric cars, computers, gadgets and toys, get off our fat asses and pedal a bike to work, have our offices powered by solar and wind, accept the trade-offs of hydro power and on and on, we are going to need some oil and gas production.

    The sad thing is that the argument has been that enviros can do that and some do, and not pay a dime to big oil.  But, these responsible folks still have to because of the subsidies.

    I always thought one of the free market arguments of the right against any “government welfare program” like social security and medicare is that rich people should not have to subsidize things they don’t use.  So shouldn’t the same free market principle apply to rich people welfare programs?

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