Metgasco tests ‘unclear'
METGASCO's water analysis released this week failed to show that it tested for potentially harmful substances in its drilling fluids, according to National Toxics Network senior adviser Marion Lloyd-Smith.
"There is a whole range of different additives that are used in drilling fluids that are not included in their sampling regime," Dr Lloyd-Smith said.
She said the analysis also failed to include standard information on when the samples were taken, how many were taken, and whether or not the data was compiled from an average of the samples or just one.
"To release results like this is unfortunate," Dr Lloyd-Smith said. "I've worked with industrial companies for several years and they will typically be far more transparent about their testing procedures when they are seeking to educate the public.
"That's basic good science and good public relations."
Dr Lloyd-Smith is a member of the technical advisory group for the industrial chemical regulator, National Industrial Chemical Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS).
She said the notion that "produced water" removed from underground during the company's exploration activities was merely a "bit salty" was simplistic.
"It's impossible to ensure your produced water will not have cross-contamination with your drilling fluids ... there are a range of things in the drilling fluids that can be very nasty, even at low levels."
Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson said his company's analysis was performed properly and the data refuted assertions that produced water and spent drilling fluid was toxic.
"We test both our produced water and spent drilling fluid for chemical content to determine appropriate reuse options and to ensure no detrimental environmental effects," he said.
"The tests have been performed by National Association of Testing Authority registered laboratories ... the analyses provided are a summary of multiple samples taken from all our ponds over an extended period."