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What's In The Fracking Fluid Hickenlooper Drank?

Cropped picture from a Halliburton promotional advertisment flier for CleanStim. Source: Halliburton.com

Governor Hickenlooper caused a minor stir nationally when he admitted to taking a swig of fracking fluid during a meeting with the U.S. Senate energy committee.

The Denver Post identified the particular fluid in question on Thursday via Hickenlooper spokesman Eric Brown. ‘CleanStim’ was the fluid quaffed by the Governor, it’s manufactured by Halliburton.

Curious as to the contents?

Colorado approved a fracking fluids disclosure law in 2011. In turn, Halliburton’s disclosures are available online, including the formulation for CleanStim. They tout the fluid as sourcing ingredients from the food industry [.pdf]. Let’s take a look at the ingredient label:

  • Enzyme
  • Exthoxylated Sugar-Based Fatty Acid Ester
  • Inorganic Acid
  • Inorganic Salt
  • Maltodextrin
  • Organic Acid
  • Organic Ester
  • Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil
  • Polysaccharide Polymer
  • Sulfonated Alcohol

Halliburton’s formulation doesn’t include concentrations. It’s also interesting to note a minor disclaimer from Halliburton:

*Intended Use - The CleanStim formulation is designed for use in hydraulic fracturing. Even though all the ingredients are acquired from food suppliers, the CleanStim fluid system should not be considered edible.

The Denver Business Journal inquired if CleanStim was in use in Colorado. They didn’t receive an answer, only a suggestion to ask Colorado energy companies directly. State Capitol Reporter Bente Birkeland reported Friday on Morning Edition that the fluid is an expensive prototype.

In a blog post at The Hill published on Thursday, Kristin Stephen of Fort Collins was critical of the Governor over CleanStim. Her contention is that the formula the Governor tried wasn’t a typical fracking fluid, something the Governor has also acknowledged.

Chemicals commonly used according to the FracFocus website include hydrochloric acid, methanol, sodium chloride, and others. A look at another Halliburton fluid formulation used in the Denver-Julesburg basin lists constituents such as the aforementioned three, plus crystalline silica among others. It’s also important to note that water makes up the bulk of fracturing fluid when it is used at a well site.

As for CleanStim, Hickenlooper did tell the Senate committee that “It was not particularly tasty, but I'm still alive to tell the story.”

I’m not a Colorado native (did you know that "I'm from Missouri" means "I'm skeptical of the matter and not easily convinced?") but I have lived here for most of my life and couldn't imagine leaving. After graduating from Colorado State University, I did what everyone wants to do; I moved to the mountains and skied, hiked, and hid from responsibility! Our listeners in the mountains may know me from my time in Steamboat Springs and Vail or as the voice of the Battle Mountain Huskies Hockey team in Vail.
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