Halliburton exec. takes a swig of fracking fluid

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.

During a keynote lunch speech at the conference presented by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Halliburton Co. CEO Dave Lesar talked about addressing public concerns about hydraulic fracturing, which extracts natural gas by blasting a mix of water, chemicals and sand underground.

He 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. A Halliburton spokeswoman didn’t respond to a question asking how that executive is doing now, or who he is. Instead, she referred a reporter to a web page on CleanStim. The Houston company, which has operations in about 80 countries, has said the product shouldn’t be considered edible.

“I thought if this stuff was so benign, why wouldn’t the CEO drink it himself? That frankly was my first thought,” said Environmental Defense Fund’s Mark Brownstein, who saw the demonstration. “My second thought, more seriously, is on the one hand, I’m pleased to see Halliburton is taking steps to remove toxic chemicals from hydraulic fracturing fluid. I wonder why if they have this technology why it wouldn’t become standard practice.

“I also do in some ways think the stunt is very much indicative of the problem the industry has in assuring the public that they are in fact taking public concerns seriously,” Brownstein said. “Because quite honestly, a homeowner in Pennsylvania doesn’t have the option of having an underling drink his water. He has to do it himself.”

Roughly 90 percent of wells in the U.S. are fracked, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Each component of fracking fluid does something different, such as killing bacteria or preventing corrosion. 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.”

Companies have resisted disclosing exact recipes for fracking fluid for competitive reasons, and those who voluntarily post disclosures on a public online registry called FracFocus can exclude some chemicals. Halliburton’s website lists CleanStim’s ingredients as enzyme, exthoxylated sugar-based fatty acid ester, inorganic and organic acids, inorganic salt, maltodextrin, organic ester, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, polysaccharide polymer and sulfonated alcohol.

Brownstein said using ingredients from the food industry won’t necessarily make a fracking fluid safe for drinking water. “Salt is a food-grade ingredient, but if you have too much salt in your well water, your well water is not usable,” Brownstein said.

Still Carlson said it was a good sign that Halliburton and others have introduced fracking fluids that they say are safer for the environment for reasons such as using biodegradable ingredients or allowing for less water use.

Would you take a swig of fracking fluid?

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39 Comments

  1. Larry Macy

    How magnanimous of Dave Lesar, to call up a subordinate to drink the fluid. Reminds me of “Robocop” where VP Richard calls up a low-level exec to point a gun at ED-209…

    #1
  2. Adler

    Even the old frac fluid is made of ingredients found in a normal kitchen.

    Water
    Salt
    Unflavored gelatine
    Alcohol

    #2
  3. ReligionISForTheWeak

    Would he drink from the tap water on Youtube that catches on fire?

    #3
  4. YouMustBeLogged

    That’s not what they mean by “energy drink”.

    #4
  5. Firmgrip

    C’mon! A CEO drink fracking fluid when there is a stupid underling available to take the dive? Shoot, the idiot who took the drink probably got a 1% raise in his pay and an “atta boy” from his (superiors?). Talk about sheep?

    #5
  6. Putting your mouth where your money is!

    #6
  7. AnimuX

    To follow up on this stunt, he should drink contaminated water from residential homes while the residents light their tap water on fire…

    #7
  8. w00t

    Some brain damaged Lib with psychological issues will take issue with it still. Their goal is to attack the enormous energy industry and replace it with more expensive, less efficient companies ran by gays, minorities and feminists. This has nothing to do with fluid, it has to do with prejudice and hatred fueled by envy and inability.

    #8
  9. Billy Smith

    Meanwhile, cola industry leaders are looking to make new energy drinks using fracking technology.

    #9
  10. Kinglyam

    Too bad the main problem they’re complaining about in the Marcellus shale area is not contamination by fracking fluid, but deep brine and methane caused by frack-out into the drinking water aquifer.

    Like AnimuX said, let them drink the tap water.

    #10
  11. I once worked for a water treatment company that did business with various local sewage treatment plants. One of the operators at a certain plant insisted that the effluent from his plant was so pure that he could drink it! He demonstrated his belief by drinking a glass of the stuff straight from the outfall. Put his own mouth where his money was at. I have no idea if he is still alive!

    #11
  12. deaconknowgood

    I would be more impress if Dick Cheney took a swig of the sample fluid.

    #12
  13. I am not sure about other areas of exploration around the country,but here in the Fayetteville Shale the fracing process is so far below the useable water level that no fracing fluid could reach the drinking water source. The “water” at that level is a blend of salt /brine that is never suitable for drinking water. A large amount of fear is the public not being educated about gealogical levels and formations,and how that produces the drinking water tables.

    #13
  14. Houston

    You all know that the flamable water tap is caused by biogenic methane right. And you also know that biogenic is derived from the latin bio meaning life, and genic meaning from, and that it comes from living things. In summary, the natural gas coming from drinking water taps in the movie gasland is entirely composed up of microorganism farts. Oil and natural gas that exists in deeper formations, and in hydrologically separated systems, is thermogenic in nature. The chemical fingerprints from these two separate sources is distinctive and can (and has)been proven using science. See below:

    http://search.datapages.com/data/bulletns/1982-83/data/pg/0067/0003/0500/0539b.htm

    #14
  15. LaffyTaffy

    Animux….you are such a g*d D**n idiot

    #15
  16. Kent L Hunley

    Dear Animux,
    How ignorant do you think we are? Most water supplies are comprised of surface water (that is lakes and rivers for the stupid people like yourself) You come up with a better way to supply the fuels that you consume then you can talk, but until then we would appreciate you just keeping your very ignorant mouth closed.

    Signed,
    Residents who light their tap water on fire

    #16
  17. sluggy

    So, the CEO brags about how safe the fluid is, but won’t drink it himself?

    Sounds about right… henchmen are a dime a dozen these days.

    #17
  18. Houston

    The Colorado Division of Water Resources report apparently isn’t available in digital form, but here is the citation:

    Romero, John C., 1976, Report on the Ground-Water Resources of the Bedrock
    Aquifer of the Denver Basin. Colorado: Colorado Geological Survey.
    76-034, Colorado Division of Water Resources Special Report.

    #18
  19. Titty0

    This was kind of a silly publicity stunt.. but, I can’t blame them.. they are grasping at straws trying to find a way to make people realize the truth about fracking

    And with half the comments in this post, who can blame them? Really, you’re going to bring up the flames coming out of people’s faucets? How is that related to fracking at all? (besides the 2 movies that were discredited as being soley works of fiction and in no way researched or realistic.. and really the 2nd one shouldn’t count since it was nothing more than a remake of the first)
    flames come out of a lot of people’s faucets, methane gets into water wells all the time.. hydraulic fracking typically takes place several thousand feet below water tables.. if there was a major problem don’t you think we would have heard about it in the 60+ years we have been fracking wells in this country?

    If I made a movie about how they club baby seals to make iPhones.. would you stop downloading fart apps?

    #19
  20. FSM

    Most people don’t know that DHMO is the single most commonly used chemical in fracking fluid. The facts surrounding DHMO’s presence in fracking fluid are surprising. What may be even more surprising is the silence of the U.S. Government on the issue of DHMO in fracking fluid.

    http://www.dhmo.org/

    #20
  21. Trail Trash

    Oh my gosh FSM, please don’t bring up DHMO. There is a good reason the government and the oil industry are trying to keep that a secret. Remember what happened in Japan recently due to NaCL-DHMO.

    #21
  22. Ed

    How deceitful !!! Its not those chemicals, as bad as they are, ITS WHAT THE END RESULT IS after the water is contaminated by the radio active ,though naturally occuring, substances that should have remained underground undesturbed . This would include methane. The waste water after the fracking is what the danger is. This gets back into our drinking water and is what KILLS ! WE in pennsylvania have more private water wells than any place in the country. Many are connected and very fragile. WE do not have the means or places to dispose of all the after affect highly radioactive toxic waste water.

    #22
  23. Ed

    Titty, I live here in Pennylvania . I talk everyday to THE HONEST people that have been hurt and whose homes and properties have been ruined by fracking . DON’T LIE to thise people and say that our water was always like this . Those films were NEVER discredited by anyone !!! I live and see the every day. BAN FRACKING IN PENNSYLVANIA !!!

    #23
  24. TH

    Ed is exactly right about the issue if not the solution. Our industry has focused on the most outlandish claims and tried to pretend there is no problem. Clearly frac fluids are not going to migrate out of a sealed reservoir through thousands of feet of rock to contaminate water tables.

    But faulty well completions and improper transportation and disposal of frac fluids are a legitimate issue. If both sides could focus on the actual hazards I’m sure a solution can be found that’s safe and economic for both the residents and the producers.

    #24
  25. Titty0

    those films were never discredited?? http://www.energyindepth.org/2010/06/debunking-gasland/
    http://anga.us/truthaboutgasland?gclid=CLaTs8mT5qoCFcbD7Qod5CW47A
    (shoot.. just hit up Google)

    If you’re concerned about oil & gas companies not disclosing what is in their solutions, do you think state regulators would let that fly?
    Here’s what they are injecting into the ground in PA
    http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/minres/oilgas/FractListing.pdf
    like most states that are actively involved in hydrocarbon extraction PA requires a list of all chemicals used or stored at the drill site.. and MSDS sheets for all as well

    If you are concerned with drinking water (you’d be a fool not to be concerned about the water you drink)
    http://water.epa.gov/type/groundwater/uic/index.cfm
    a 5yr study by the EPA that found no correlation between fracking and water contamination

    Now, you bring up water kept on site after is is pumped into and then back out of the ground.. yes, some of that can be less than plesant and accidents can occur in ANY endevour.. but naturally occuring radioactive waste being a major concern?!? Wouldn’t your efforts be better spent combating the coal industry?

    In my jaded opinion there are 2 choices.. continue to allow fracking, regulated as it has always been, and address any concerns in a logical and reasonable light
    OR… stop hydrocarbon extraction from the Marcellus Shale play and simply address the budget cuts later when you are missing out on the fees/ taxes/ and landowner royalties that fracking has brought in the past few years

    And then just figure out where you are going to get all of your hydrocarbon and petroleum based product needs.. that make-up on your face, that plastic keyboard you’re typing on, the tires on your car

    #25
  26. Perhaps a more fitting solution would be to test each and every load of fracing waste before it is disposed of. I am very sure with todays strict standards there is a positive solution. I still cannot imagine with the regulations we all have to abide by that anyone would be just “dumping” contaminated waste to be allowed to get into ground water…

    #26
  27. meriam

    These companies do whatever it takes to make a profit including being exempt from clean air and water acts thanks to cheney bush duo. There are no regulations as this is so political and business as usual with these huge corrupt companies hurting the little guy to make a profit. god made us water to drink and these bastards are ruining our waterways and its not getting the pr it deserves.

    #27
  28. meredith

    benzene is not in my kitchen….and no i dont mix my drinks with it either…they want you to believe frack fluid is citric acid and salt but they fail to include fermaldyhyde and hundreds of other chemicals that blow up rocks. What do u think this stuff does to ur body? i dont want to know so stop fracking!!!

    #28
  29. Mike H.

    Let’s see how long it takes for this safer frack fluid to catch on. In the meantime, they still use things like diesel fuel, chromium hex, organophosphates (nerve toxic), hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide (lye or drain cleaner), and EDB in frack fluids. Let’s see them drink that stuff!

    #29
  30. ntangle

    Houston wrote: the natural gas coming from drinking water taps in the movie gasland is entirely composed up of microorganism farts.
    ————
    Your link from 1983 is about deep thermogenic methane in the Wattenberg field in Colo. Much of the current controversy is about Marcellus wells. A more current, on-point study of the isotopic signature as well as the alkane fractions indicates that the gas concentration is biogenic AND correlates with local drilling. The question left unresolved was whether the gas migrated from the reservoir(s) thru strata or via casing & bad cementing. This Duke study was cited in a May 6 FuelFix article.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/55038072/2011-May-Duke-Nat-Gas-and-Water-Study

    #30
  31. ntangle

    Correction, make that a May 9 FuelFix article:
    “Study finds gas in N.Y., Pennsylvania water wells, but no frac fluids”

    #31
  32. Slim Chance

    Poor cement, poorly placed, can allowed upward communication. It happens now and then. Extra care placing cement, better cement and a better casing design is needed to protect against the admitted failures of the past. Everyone wants to protect the potable water,don’t they?

    #32
  33. Frac This

    Not sure if this says as much about the safety of the frac fluid as it does about Dave Lesar’s management style.
    Talk about being put into a hostile work environment in public — what happens if he doesn’t “volunteer” to drink it? What does it say about Lesar’s opinion of this exec – “Let’s get Larry to drink it, he’ll do anything I tell him too.”

    What a PR disaster that turns a serious question into a stunt.

    The oil and gas industry needs to take a different approach to the public and stop treating them like children. Tell us the ingredients. Why is API fighting standards? What about the prodigious amount of fresh water to frac each well – 4-6 million gallons per well – in areas like South Texas where surface water has virtually disappeared and ground water is already stressed?

    Let’s stop talking about operating far below the water table for ground water supplies. We’re drilling through it. How can we make sure we put sufficient barriers – long lasting 1000s of year barriers in as we drill through sensitive zones? We all know that poorly plugged conventional wells are seeping into ground water supplies all over the country right now. When are we going to address this as an industry?

    This is a technical challenge and an ownership issue for the industry, not a trivial matter that requires an executive to be humiliated in public by “taking one” for the boss.

    #33
  34. Titty0

    ..or I suppose a 3rd option would be to continue with the bandwagon rally cries of the uneducated and misinformed

    of all the evil and loathsome things that Bush/ Cheney did in the 8 years they were in office it seems a marvel to me that people get up in arms about something that didn’t even happen
    They didn’t exempt the oil & gas industry from regulation.. EVERY phase of hydrocarbon extraction is regulated by multiple laws and government bodies.. in regards to the Safe Water Drinking Act, it NEVER was concerned with or designed to be applied to energy projects like oil & gas exploration

    But, like I said.. go ahead and keep complaining about how we don’t know what they are putting in the ground.. go ahead and claim you know someone who had their water source contaminated by fracking! You only come off as someone who gets their facts from a CSI episode and hearsay

    #34
  35. Ricky Forrest

    Looks like a Robocop OCP made for TV re-run. Executives force subordinates to “take the rap”, or jump out of a window for the Company. This kind of loyalty and scam was very common in divine right ruler times. Even Genghis Kahn made his generals do things they hated, like masscreing whole towns to make FEAR a compeling OBEDIENCE choice.

    #35
  36. JUSTIN

    RETRACT FROM ABOVE STATEMENT. FRACTURING HAS NEVER ACTUALLY BEEN PROVEN TO CAUSE A WATER SOURCE PROBLEM!!

    #36
  37. JUSTIN

    OH AND FOR FSM THE CONSPIRACY YOUR TALKING ABOUT, DOESN’T EXIST. THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION IS THE MOST RADICAL LIBERAL ADMINISTRATION IN THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. YOU REALLY THINK THAT IF IT WAS A SECRET IT WOULDN’T BE EXPOSED BY NOW. OBAMA AND HIS COHORTS HAVE DONE AND ARE DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO STOP PRODUCTION OF OIL IN THIS COUNTRY. OFFSHORE HAS ALREADY BEEN STOPPED OR SLOWED YET NOT ONE OF THOSE RIGS HAVE EVER CONTAMINATED OUR DRINKING WATER. BY THE WAY EVERY TIME IT RAINS, AND YOU’VE BEEN DRIVING YOUR CAR ON THOSE ROADS THAT YOU USE TO GET TO WORK ON, THAT YOU COMPLAIN NEEDING TO BE REDONE BECAUSE OF POT HOLES AND WATER EROSION, WHERE DO YOU THINK ALL THAT TAR GOES? I GUESS WE COULD ALL LIVE BACK IN THE CAVE MAN DAYS SO THAT OUR EARTH IS PURE. OH WAIT IT NEVER WAS. DON’T FORGET ITS CALLED NATURAL GAS BECAUSE IT OCCURS IN NATURE SO I GUESS IF YOU REALLY WANT TO BLAME SOMEONE OR SOMETHING THERE IS ALWAYS THE CREATOR. IF THAT DOESN’T WORK YOU COULD JUST LOOK IN THE MIRROR BECAUSE WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE.

    #37
  38. JIM

    JUST DRINK HALIBURTON’S KOOL-AID AND BELIEVE…

    #38
  39. TransAmer99

    Everything is a stunt these days – from drinking a ‘sanitized serving’ of fracking fluid to igniting your yout kitchen tap. The reality of the situation is that methane has been leaching into water wells long before the arrival of energy companies in the Marcellus region with their fracking technologies. That is because the strata is porous and seismic events cause them to shift around. In the hilly areas of northern PA and southern NY, natural gas pockets have developed in closer proximity to the aquifers that are tapped for well water. This is very different from flatter west TX, there the Eagle Ford shales are located much deeper than the aquifers.

    Also understand that every shale reservoir has a different make-up. A fracking fluid that works fine in one particular well may do diddly squat in the next. So there can be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ formulation for the fluids.

    In any event, it is not the ingredients of the fracking fluid that catches fire in the kitchen sink – it is the migration of flamable gasses from the reservoirs entering into the aqufers that supply the water and again – that has been happening naturally before the oil companes came to the area. As more people move into an area and tap more water wells into a given aquifer, the supply in the aquifer can become low, creating a void that fills with gas. Instead of publicity stunts and media sensationalization, some factual education would serve all parties better.

    #39