The paper published two viewpoints on fracking in North Carolina under the title, The Good and Bad of Fracking. Below are excerpts from Ron Vigneri who identifies hydrogen fluoride (HF) as the “big nasty secret” in fracking. The second article, “Energy means jobs for N.C.” is by Erik Milito, group director for the American Petroleum Institute.
Now retired, in the past I have been granted U.S. and foreign patents for oil and gas well fracturing and have significant experience in well fracturing using a process I invented…
I think it is time to acquaint the public at large as to the identity of a high hazard chemical that is used, but never talked about…
Tens of thousands of gallons of fracking fluid are injected and anything injected into a well has to be pumped back out before clean production of oil and/or gas can occur.
Disposal of the fracking fluid recovered is a significant problem above ground as well. Besides the high hydraulic pressure that is imposed on the rock by the water-based fracking fluid pumped into the rock, chemical acid is included in the fluid to also breakdown the rock. Called “acidizing,” it primarily uses hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids at highly diluted concentrations, between 1 and 15 percent.
The exact formula varies slightly by company, but is hidden from the public by trade secret laws. Over the past few years, however, companies are finding that injections at higher concentrations can dissolve hydrocarbon bearing rock like shale and sandstone. Some believe that companies are using concentrations as high as 30 percent. Again, it is all a trade secret.
Hydrofluoric acid (HF) can corrode glass, steel, and rock. To prevent it from dissolving the well casing, which is intended to keep oil and chemicals from contaminating the surrounding rock or water, companies mix it with other substances, many of which are used during standard fracking jobs.
After the frack, the used acid, chemicals, oil, and any sediment, are pumped out in a process called backflush. The HF is often created on site by mixing hydrochloric acid and ammonium fluoride, and then immediately injecting it into a well because it hazardous to handle.
The big nasty “secret” in fracking fluids is predominantly the HF. Hydrogen fluoride is a chemical compound that contains fluorine…
Ron Vigneri is a retired engineer and inventor who has experience in the oil and gas industry. He lives in Wilmington.