It looks like some big time oil and gas companies like Chesapeake and Range Resources are trying to hang their hydraulic fracturing service contractors out to dry.  That’s the impression I get from this piece from Reuters.  Companies like Chesapeake produce natural gas but they don’t actual get it out of the ground themselves.  They hire companies like Halliburton (yes, that Halliburton) to do it for them.  The chemical content of fracturing fluid has always been kept secret by these companies because, they claim, the formula for the fluid is proprietary information.  Now, probably because of backlash from environmentalists across the country, companies like Chesapeake and Range are calling on these companies to release information on what chemicals they’re using. 

The industry line is that these chemicals are harmless, but tell that to a farmer in Louisiana who lost 19 head of cattle because the cows drank some fracturing fluid near a well site.  Companies like Halliburton claim that 99 percent of the fluid is pure water, which may be true.  But if you’re using 5 million gallons to frack a well, then that 1 percent is actually about 10,000 gallons of chemicals. 

Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon said “We need to disclose the checmicals that we are using and search for alternatives to the checmicals we are using.”  Now, why would you need to seek alternatives if the ones you were already using were harmless.