* Chesapeake, Range Resources call for disclosures
* Marcellus Shale a key natural gas development
* Industry says hydrofracturing process safe
By Matt Daily
NEW YORK, Sept 24 Two top U.S. natural gas
producers called on the industry to release data about the
chemicals they use in the fast-growing Marcellus shale development
to counter fears it was polluting water supplies.
The Marcellus, which stretches from West Virginia across most
of Pennsylvania and into New York, could hold a 10-year supply of
natural gas for the United States, but its development is
sparking a backlash from some residents who say they are at
New technologies have enabled gas drillers to tap into rock
deposits and release natural gas using a process called
"hydrofracturing" that injects water and chemicals into the
The vast energy potential of the field has drawn interest
from dozens of companies, including Chesapeake Energy (CHK.N),
who says the process is safe and will turn the Marcellus into a
lucrative source of natural gas for decades.
"We as an industry need to demystify (hydrofracturing),"
Aubrey McClendon, chief executive and chairman of Chesapeake, told
an energy conference this week.
"We need to disclose the chemicals that we are using and
search for alternatives to the chemicals we are using," he said.
Scientists have yet to find definitive evidence that drilling
chemicals have seeped into ground, but dozens of anecdotal
accounts have emerged that water supplies in gas-producing areas
have been tainted.
People in gas-drilling areas say their well water has become
discolored or foul-smelling, killing pets and farm animals who
drink it and causing children to suffer from diarrhea and
On Tuesday, Pennsylvania regulators cited Cabot Oil & Gas for
spilling chemicals at a natural gas well. [ID:nN22368094]
Environmentalists have complained that the energy companies
refuse to disclose the specific chemicals used in the fluids that
are injected into wells and then later stored in pools before
That lack of disclosure prevents them from testing water and
soil samples for specific incidents of pollution.
John Pinkerton, chief executive of Range Resources Corp
(RRC.N), one of the first energy companies to enter the Marcellus,
said producers' disclosures were limited by the oilfield service
companies who do not want to release what they consider to be
commercially sensitive information.
"We're under confidentiality contracts with the service
companies," he told Reuters. "I've basically told them that this
is not acceptable. It's a little silly to be honest."
Oilfield service companies such as Schlumberger Ltd (SLB.N),
Halliburton Co (HAL.N) and BJ Services BJS.N all provide
hydrofracturing services to the companies.
A spokesman for Schlumberger said it and the chemical
companies that provide the fluids release lists of chemicals,
acids and salts typically used in the process, but that the
chemical companies will not give more details.
"When it comes down to the different chemical makeup of these
compounds, that's where it gets into proprietary third party
information," the spokesman, Stephen Harris, said.
Halliburton said 99 percent of its fluid was made up of sand
and water, and the remaining chemicals complied with state and
"We make a significant investment in developing effective
fracturing fluid systems and we are careful to protect the fruits
of the company's research and development efforts," Halliburton
spokeswoman Cathy Mann said in an email.
Louis Baldwin, chief financial officer of XTO Energy XTO.N,
said the number of incidents of spills or leakage was
"infinitesimally small" given the thousands of wells in which
hydrofracturing had been used.
(Reporting by Matt Daily; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)