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Group To Examine Potential Health Effects From Producing Unconventional Resources

Topics: Safety/health

Unconventional resources offer many substantial benefits, yet the rapid increase in production of these resources using hydraulic fracturing has generated scrutiny by some policymakers and advocates who cite health concerns. The Exploration and Production Health Issues Group was recently formed to provide research, scientific analysis, and guidance on health issues regarding unconventional-resource production (URP). The group is particularly focused on community health concerns, including those associated with the compositions of hydraulic-fracturing fluid and flowback, effects on aquifers, air emissions, and psychosocial stress related to operations.

Chemical Disclosure

Opinion polls have found that community residents are most concerned about the possibility of drinking-water contamination from hydraulic fracturing. The idea that fracturing fluids of unknown composition are pumped underground through groundwater is the cause of that concern. A key issue for the industry to address is communicating the full nature of this risk while maintaining the confidentiality of proprietary chemicals used. The composition of fracturing fluids is the intellectual property of companies that develop the wellsite. The skill required to identify the right fluid composition for particular fracturing operations is what keeps those companies in business. But the need to protect some portion of fluid compositions as confidential business information (CBI) has been exploited by some opposed to URP to spread fear about unknown toxic chemicals and the harm they may cause.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 168518, “Collaborative Industry Initiative To Assess Potential Health Effects Related to the Production of Unconventional Resources,” by D.J. Devlin, ExxonMobil; P. Beatty and R.D. White, American Petroleum Institute; Z. Naufal, Chevron; and S.S. Sarang, Shell, prepared for the 2014 SPE International Conference on Health, Safety, and Environment, Long Beach, California, USA, 17–19 March. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Group To Examine Potential Health Effects From Producing Unconventional Resources

01 August 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 8

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