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Chemicals in Oil and Gas Operations


TEDX has completed several projects assessing the impact of chemicals associated with natural gas operations. Our Videos and Webinars webpage contains presentations by TEDX staff. Here you can search our database of chemicals and health effects and read our assessments of drilling and pit chemicals.

Health Effects Spreadsheet and Summary

TEDX maintains a publicly available database of the potential health effects of chemicals used during natural gas operations. The list currently contains nearly 1,000 products, but it is by no means complete. The data are summarized and discussed in the Summary Statement.


Summary Statement of the data contained in the Excel spreadsheet (PDF).

Spreadsheet of products, chemicals and their health effects (Excel).

A similar spreadsheet of chemicals is reviewed in our paper Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective (PDF), which was published in 2011 in Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, an international, peer-reviewed scientific journal. You can purchase the published copy here.

Drilling Chemicals

The information here is based on chemicals used in drilling a natural gas well, Crosby 25-3, in Park County, Wyoming. Natural gas, petroleum condensate, and drilling fluids were accidentally released from the ground adjacent to the well due to a breach in the surface casing. This occured over a period of about 58 hours between August 11 and 13th, 2006.

Download a Summary (PDF) of the products and chemicals used to drill the Crosby 25-3 well.

Download a Spreadsheet (EXCEL) of the chemicals used to drill the Crosby 25-3 well.

Pit Chemicals

Several different types of pits are used in natural gas operations. Drilling pits are earthen-bermed reservoirs on the well pad used for storage of discarded fluids from drilling, fracturing or other processes. These might be lined with heavy plastic sheeting, or unlined. Large evaporation pit complexes are used to dispose of water stripped from the natural gas as it surfaces, and the fluids from the drilling pits. These pits can be either commercial, servicing many drilling companies, or private, operated by one company. Natural gas processing plants also use pits to dispose of the water used to “wash” the gas before it leaves the refinery.

In 2007, an industry committee comprised of 19 oil and gas companies operating in New Mexico sponsored a sampling and analysis program (SAP) of pit solids. The SAP was completed by a third party consultant and analytical laboratory. The SAP focused on six drilling reserve pits in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico and the Permian Basin of southeast New Mexico prior to closure. TEDX’s analysis of the chemicals, their relevance to national toxics lists, and an EXCEL spreadsheet (which can be downloaded, searched and sorted as needed) are provided below.

Download a Spreadsheet (EXCEL) of chemicals found in six drilling reserve pits in New Mexico.