Exxon’s Shale Driller Tightens Drug Testing for Rig Workers

Union Drilling Inc. (UDRL), the rig owner hired by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) to explore U.S. shale rock formations for natural gas, toughened drug testing of rig workers in an attempt to cut down on accidents.

Union is switching to hair-follicle tests from urinalysis to detect drug use, Chief Executive Officer Christopher Strong said at the Pritchard Capital energy conference in San Francisco yesterday. The new protocol already has reduced emergency calls from its drilling sites, he said, according to a transcript of his presentation.

Energy producers exploring shale rock are facing increased scrutiny from environmental regulators, landowners, lawmakers and investors after intensive drilling techniques were linked to water contamination and earthquakes. Drug abuse tends to be more frequent among drilling crews than other oilfield workers, Roger New, vice chairman of the Energy Training Council in Yukon, Oklahoma, said in an interview today