Chesapeake tests ‘green’ fracking fluids in shale wells

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Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake plans to develop a 100 percent green mixture of fluids used to fracture oil and gas formations deep underground, Jody C. Jones, the company’s manager of environmental and regulatory affairs, said Tuesday during a gathering of industry executives in Columbus, Ohio.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves using high-pressure jets of water, sand and chemicals to smash fissures into rocks so gas and oil may flow. Current fluid formulations often include hazardous components such as hydrochloric acid or diesel fuel, and environmentalists say the practice poses a threat to water supplies.

Chesapeake is testing various green recipes in several shale formations that Jones declined to identify.

“It’s not quite there yet,” Jones said at the Utica Shale Development & Growth Forum sponsored by IQPC Ltd. “The main concern with testing something like this is you just spent $4 million to $6 million to drill a well, and taking an untested frack system and shooting it down a well could ruin a reservoir and you’d be throwing away all that money.”

Chesapeake is experimenting with green fracking fluids to minimize threats from surface spills near lakes, creeks and rivers that abut drilling sites, Jones said. Such formulations also would reduce workers’ exposure to potentially harmful substances, he said.

Some of the world’s largest fracking-service providers have been working on ways to offer more environmentally friendly fluids.

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