Baker Hughes to start disclosing fracking chemicals

Oilfield service provider Baker Hughes Inc. said it will start disclosing the chemicals it uses for every hydraulic fracturing operation.

The Wednesday announcement outlines how the company will implement a policy it unveiled in April to provide more public detail about how it extracts gas and oil trapped underground.

For every well it fracks starting Wednesday, Baker Hughes will put out a complete list of the chemicals and their maximum concentrations, it said.

“Introducing greater transparency about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process and protecting the ability to innovate are not conflicting goals,” Derek Mathieson, chief strategy officer at Baker Hughes, said in a statement.

“The policy we are implementing today is consistent with our belief that we are partners in solving industry challenges, and that we have a responsibility to provide the public with the information they want and deserve,” he said.

The six-month delay allowed the company to negotiate with suppliers and customers and implement systems to gather and publish the information.

Environmentalists have pushed for years for federal, state and local policies that mandate disclosures of what goes into fracking fluid, which is pumped into wells at high pressure to open fissures. But oil and gas drillers have generally pushed back, saying the chemical mixes are trade secrets.

More than 99 percent of fracking fluid is water and sand, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

The Energy Department and environmentalists applauded Baker Hughes’s decision when it was announced.