Everything’s Coming Up…Citrus!

By: Peter M. Duncan

Leave it to Flotek Industries to bring a little positivity to our oft-criticized fracing field with the sweet smell of oranges.

The Houston oil field supplier says it has patented a hydraulic fracturing fluid that replaces traditional chemicals with extract from orange peels, turning the conventional mixture into a sweet-smelling blend.

This announcement from Flotek hails a new trend in our industry-one that will ultimately help soothe unfounded concerns from those who say hydraulic fracturing threatens the ground water supply. Ironically, Flotek developed the citrus-based fluid seven years ago, President John Chisholm said, before the public hoopla about hydraulic fracturing.

“We looked at it for its technical benefits,” Chisholm said, noting that the citrus rind extract, called d-limonene, eases the flow of the well products to the surface.

Oil field services company Halliburton also offers an environmentally conscious fracturing fluid, CleanStim. The company notes that all of the ingredients are federally approved for use in food production — including maltodextrin, a sweetener, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, which prolongs foods’ shelf lives.

“In general, they sound like a step in the right direction,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst for the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. “We need scientific research to better understand their impacts.”

 “It addresses those issues, a perceived concern with the chemicals that are used in hydraulic fracturing,” said Matt Oehler, Halliburton’s manager of global business development and marketing. “Whether the perception is real or not, to remove some of that chemistry is good.”

We may not yet be ready to compare oranges to oranges, but the efforts of companies like Flotek and Halliburton hint at the sweet smell of success to me!