Investors have filed shareholder resolutions urging nine major oil and gas companies to disclose risks of their U.S. natural gas fracturing, or fracking, operations.
Five investment groups filed resolutions with ExxonMobil, Chevron, Ultra Petroleum, El Paso, Cabot Oil & Gas, Southwestern Energy, Energen, Anadarko and Carrizo Oil & Gas.
The proposals ask companies to disclose their policies for reducing environmental and financial risks from the use of chemicals, water impacts and other environmental issues associated with fracking.
The resolutions also request that companies start recycling and reusing waste waters, reduce the volume and toxicity of chemicals, and ensure the integrity of well cementing by using pressure testing and other methods.
The New York State comptroller’s office is one of the shareholders filing a resolution with Cabot Oil & Gas.
“Oil and gas firms are being too vague about how they will manage the environmental challenges resulting from fracking,” said comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “The risks associated with unconventional shale gas extraction have the potential to negatively impact shareholder value.”
Other investors filing the resolutions include Domini Social Investments, Trillium Asset Management, Miller/Howard Investments, corporate accountability campaigners As You Sow and the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.
Hydraulic fracturing uses water, particles and chemicals injected underground at high pressure to break up shale and release natural gas. The resolution sponsors say oil and gas companies are increasingly turning to the method as conventional natural gas supplies have dwindled.
Poor well construction can lead to drinking water contamination, well blowouts and gas leaks, the sponsors said.
ExxonMobil said on its website: “We support the disclosure of ingredients used, including disclosure on a site-specific basis, and we are working with industry associations on a comprehensive policy.”
It said its hydraulic fracturing fluid is typically 98 to 99.5 percent water and sand, “with the balance consisting of additional ingredients that make the process more effective by reducing friction and preventing pipe corrosion and bacteria growth.”
ExxonMobil added: “State, federal, and independent analyses have found that the hydraulic fracturing process poses no risk to groundwater supplies.”
Last autumn, just days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a subpoena to Halliburton to force the company to share information about its hydraulic fracturing process, Halliburton announced the launch of a new microsite that discloses the materials content of its hydraulic fracturing fluids.
In November Wyoming implemented new rules requiring natural gas drillers to disclose chemicals used in fracking, but citizen groups said the rules fall short of full transparency.