Hydraulic fracturing fluids are comprised primarily of water and sand and a small amount of additives
Generally, when an oil and natural gas well is drilled, drilling mud or fluids are used to keep the drill bit cool and clean during the drilling and help move rock excavated by the drill up to the surface. Depending of the well and rock formation, some wells require different types of drilling mud.
Hydraulic fracturing fluids
Hydraulic fracturing fluids are comprised primarily of water and sand (~98.5%) and a small amount of additives (~1.5%). Fracturing fluids are injected under high pressure into the deep underground rock formation to crack the rock. The sand props open the rock fractures to provide a pathway for the oil or natural gas to flow more easily to the surface. The make-up of fracturing fluid varies from one rock formation to another.
Managing the use of hydraulic fracturing fluids
All additives used must comply with provincial and federal regulations where applicable. Industry also follows best practices to assess and manage the use of hydraulic fracturing additives including having risk mitigation plans in place in the unlikely event of a spill.
Letting the public know about fracturing fluids used in natural gas development
In Alberta and British Columbia, disclosure of the additives used for hydraulic fracturing operations must be publicly disclosed. For each well, operators must describe the function of additives used and the trade name of the additive as well as the name of the additive ingredients as listed on the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and the Chemical Abstract Service registry number (CAS number). This information is stored in a public database that can be found at FracFocus.