Baker Hughes will officially disclose fracturing chemicals

HOUSTON — Baker Hughes says it has finished a six-month process of negotiating with its suppliers to reveal all of the chemicals it uses in hydraulic fracturing, a well-stimulation technique that has drawn the ire of environmentalists and some communities.

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of blasting a mixture of water, chemicals and sand into two-mile deep shale rock formations to release trapped hydrocarbons. Together with horizontal drilling, the process has revolutionized U.S. energy production, but critics have raised questions about what oil and gas companies are pumping into wells that are often close to residential communities.

Though it won’t disclose the chemical formulations it concocts for its fracturing fluids, the end of the negotiation process makes Baker Hughes the first major oil field service company to offer up data on all of the individual chemicals in its cocktails. An effort to make its fracturing more transparent began in March.

“Introducing greater transparency about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process and protecting the ability to innovate are not conflicting goals,” said Derek Mathieson, chief strategy officer for Baker Hughes. He said Baker Hughes’ new policy is in part driven by “a responsibility to provide the public with information they want and deserve.”

Starting Wednesday, Baker Hughes will upload the full information to the Frac Focus, an industry-backed website that regulators in Texas and other states use as a clearinghouse for fracturing-fluid data. The operators of the wells — Baker Hughes’ customers — are the companies that directly disclose the well data on Frac Focus. Negotiations over operators’ disclosures were also wrapped up in Baker Hughes’ six-month process to disclose its data.