July 17, 2008

Halliburton Questions Proposal on Chemicals Rule Would Call for Disclosure

By Gargi Chakrabarty

Energy giant Halliburton, which owns a proprietary drilling technology frequently used in Colorado, on Wednesday questioned a proposed rule that would require oil and gas companies to identify and list all the chemicals used at a well site.

"The rule would need us to identify the chemicals (used in drilling), the volumes and concentrations," said Ron Heyden, a Halliburton executive, while testifying at a hearing before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in Denver. "It is much like asking Coca-Cola to disclose the formula of Coke."

Halliburton's testimony came as commission staff, along with Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment officials, explained how the proposed rule would help health-care personnel in cases of drilling accidents if workers were exposed to various chemicals. Drilling companies inject various chemicals at high pressures through well bores to break underground rock formations and release natural gas.

The proposed rule is part of an extensive overhaul of the state's drilling rules.

The commission staff is rewriting drilling rules at the behest of the legislature after residents living in the vicinity of energy developments complained about spills, noise, odors and the effect on the environment and wildlife habitat.

Martha Rudolph, CDPHE director of environmental programs, testified the rule would require drilling companies such as Halliburton to disclose the chemicals only in broad categories such as solvents or paints and wouldn't impinge on proprietary formulas.

Earlier Wednesday morning, the commission denied Kathy Behr, an emergency nurse, from testifying after industry officials said it was unfair to introduce a witness at the last minute.

Rudolph told commissioners Behr's story without naming her, saying how she might have been exposed to chemicals when she treated some gas- field workers.

Originally published by Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News.

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