CERAWeek '12: ExxonMobil CEO seeks fracking chemicals disclosure in Europe

By Ben DuBose
Online Editor

HOUSTON -- ExxonMobil on Friday called for the adoption of a systematic hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure program in Europe to provide further information to communities, policymakers and regulators about natural gas development technologies.

“Natural gas from shale holds tremendous promise in many places in Europe due to its lower carbon intensity and suitability for power generation, but we want policymakers and the public to be confident that it can be produced safely and responsibly,” said Rex W. Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil in a keynote speech at IHS’s CERAWeek 2012 energy conference. 

More than two years ago, ExxonMobil said it demonstrated its commitment to disclosure of hydraulic fracturing fluids by working with US state regulatory agencies to help create the FracFocus website, an online registry where companies submit data about chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of oil and natural gas wells.

The site is managed through a partnership with the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

ExxonMobil said it proposes that a similar initiative be developed in Europe.

“ExxonMobil believes that a comprehensive disclosure program allows citizens and communities to consider this technology with a strong factual foundation,” said Tillerson.

“We believe that will lead to open discussion about environmental protection and risk management, and the potential benefits of shale development in Europe.”

While shale natural gas development is in its early stages in Europe, the resource has the potential to play a significant role in helping meet Europe’s energy requirements over coming decades, according to the company.

Natural gas has a lower carbon intensity than other fossil fuels, and emits up to 60% less carbon dioxide emissions than coal when used in power generation, ExxonMobil said.

By disclosing the specific content of the small amount of chemicals mixed with the water and sand for hydraulic fracturing, Tillerson said industry provided important information to those interested in shale development.

Today, FracFocus in the US allows communities and policymakers in the area of a potential drilling site to understand the components of fracking fluids - and to recognize that the majority of ingredients are safe and already widely used in many other applications, including consumer products, the company said.

Tillerson said industry should share its experiences and knowledge in this area with policymakers, regulators and communities.

The CERAWeek 2012 conference takes place from March 5-9 at the Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas. For more details on the event, click here. Stay tuned to Hydrocarbon Processing for further coverage.

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