The Burgett well in the Marcellus Shale gas area southeast of Canton, Ohio, was fractured Oct. 3 with 8.3 million gallons of water and a relatively small percentage of chemicals that were pumped deep underground to free the gas and smooth its flow to the surface.
About two dozen of the chemicals were identified on a public website by their unique formulations, together with their maximum concentration in the mix. But the identities of four other chemicals, including a “gelling” agent and a corrosion inhibitor, were concealed from the public as trade secrets by the supplier, Weatherford International Ltd.
Together, the confidential ingredients made up a minuscule part of the water volume pumped underground — no more than 0.17 percent or 13,800 gallons, according to the information provided by Weatherford on the chemical tracking website FracFocus created by state regulators. The company did not respond to questions about the makeup of its proprietary chemicals.
Despite their comparatively small share of the total injections, secret fracking liquids like these are at the center of a fierce debate between environmental groups and energy companies, as state governors, legislators and regulators write new rules for unconventional oil and gas production.