To BTEX, or not to BTEX, that is the question

June 20th, 2014

There’s a common claim that the fluids used in hydraulic fracturing activities contain carcinogenic ingredients, and that responsible natural gas companies and suppliers won’t release details of what goes into fracking fluid.

Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s just not true.

Fracturing fluids are used to open up tiny cleats in coal seams that then allow gas and water trapped in the coal seam to move out of the seam and into the gas well.

The fluid itself comprises more than 99.5% water and sand. The remainder comprises a number of compounds that are used to ensure that the fluid remains viscous enough to stay where it is supposed to within the coal seam.

These ingredients include things like vinegar and other substances commonly found in household cupboards and pantries.

The components of fracturing fluid are tightly controlled and regulated, and are no secret. Fluid manufacturers list the ingredients on their websites, as do the responsible developers of natural gas resources.

One of the claims that has been raised recently in Australia is that fracturing fluids contain cancer causing elements.

The BTEX group of compounds – benzyne, toluene,  ethylbenzene and xylene – are commonly found in petroleum and diesel products, but the fact is that the use of the BTEX group in fracturing fluids has been banned in some Australian states. There’s more information on how the ban applies in NSW and in Queensland.

Find out more about fracturing fluid.

The moral to this story? If someone tells you that fracturing fluids cause cancer because they contain BTEX, they are wrong.

Simple, really.

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