Hydraulic fracturing

December 30, 2013

EDITORIAL: Fracking's impact on water supplies looking better

Source: http://www.beaumontenterprise.com, December 26, 2013

Fracking has caused a bonanza of oil and gas production in the United States, but it has its detractors. And one of their chief complaints was that it used too much water, as much as five million gallons per well, even though it accounts for less than 1 percent of the water consumed in a big oil-producing state like Texas.

Yet a new study by the University of Texas at Austin indicates that fracking actually cuts overall water use for energy. As the price of natural gas has declined, some utilities have switched to using gas instead of coal to produce electricity. The amount of water saved by shifting a power plant to gas from coal is 25 to 50 times greater than the amount needed to get the natural gas via fracking.

Trade-offs like that must be kept in mind when looking at energy production and use in this country. No aspect of this complex equation is pure. For example, wind farms have been increasingly criticized for their large numbers of bird deaths caused by turbine blades.

Even if alternative forms of energy like wind and solar can increase in coming years, oil and natural gas will remain fundamental to our energy needs. And the bottom line on fracking is that it has produced so much oil and gas that this country is less dependent than ever on oil imports from the volatile Mideast.

Fracking should be monitored wherever it occurs to ensure it doesn’t drain area water supplies or contaminate ground water. But the pluses far outweigh the drawbacks, which is why few states or locales have banned it nationwide.

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December 27, 2013

Fracking Saves Water, Prevents Droughts, New Study Claims

Source: http://www.ibtimes.com, December 23, 2013
By: David Kashi

Even though hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses millions of gallons of water to blast shale rock to release trapped gas, the controversial technique actually saves water, according to a recent study by the University of Texas.

The study claims that the Lone Star State is less vulnerable to drought because of its transition from coal to natural gas as the main fuel source used to generate electricity.

“Natural gas also enhances drought resilience by providing so-called peaking plants to complement increasing wind generation, which doesn’t consume water,” the study said.

Thanks to fracking, Texas is now extracting more oil and gas than ever. The state’s production could surpass that of Kuwait, UAE, Iraq, Iran and even Canada by the end of next year. The drilling technique has been heavily criticized, as some environmentalists contend fracking contaminates and wastes groundwater.

“The bottom line is that hydraulic fracturing, by boosting natural gas production and moving the state from water-intensive coal technologies, makes our electric power system more drought-resilient,” Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at the university’s Bureau of Economic Geology, who led the study, said.

While the study asserts that fracking accounts for less than 1 percent of the water consumed in Texas, it also acknowledged that it strains local water supplies in areas where the technique is heavily concentrated.…

December 27, 2013

Benefits from fracking

Source: http://www.fresnobee.com, December 23, 2013

A Dec. 8 letter asks: “Exactly how many Californians will get out of the unemployment line due to fracking?”

According to a study by the Craig School of Business at Fresno State, developing the Monterey shale could create up to 195,000 direct jobs and generate more than $22 billion in personal income in the unemployment-ravaged San Joaquin Valley. Further, a study by USC found that development of the Monterey shale could potentially create one million jobs by 2015 and 2.8 million by 2020.

Contrary to the author’s claims, hydraulic fracturing does not pose a credible threat for earthquakes. A recent study from Durham University found “it is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking.” A study from the National Research Council affirmed a low risk of fracking inducing a felt seismic event.

As for water contamination, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said, “I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater.” Numerous Obama administration officials and state regulators agree.

The science clearly tells us that fracking is safe, and developing California’s vast resources will create jobs and grow our economy. That’s something we should welcome.

Dave Quast

California Director of Energy in Depth

Los Angeles

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December 10, 2013

New Rule in WV Regarding Fracking Waste

Read here about a new rule in West Virginia regarding fracking waste.

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December 2, 2013

Fracking report: parts of Britain are likely to be too dry to drill

Source: Guardian (UK), November 28, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Fracking may be impractical in parts of Britain where water supplies are scarce, the water industry revealed as it announced a deal with the oil and gas industry.

Hydraulic fracturing technology is a controversial process of shale gas and oil extraction where water and chemicals at very high pressure are blasted at dense shale rocks, opening fissures through which tiny bubbles of methane can be released.

But the quantities of water required are very large, leading to cases in the US – where fracking is widespread – of towns and villages running dry.

In a memorandum of understanding published yesterday, the water trade body Water UK and the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), which represents fracking firms, agreed to co-operate on expanding the number of fracking sites in the UK.

The agreement noted “the pressure on local water resources” and in it Water UK acknowledged: “The quantities of water needed vary by site and throughout the gas exploration and production process, but the demand could have an impact on local water resources. This demand may be met from a number of sources, including the public water supply, direct abstraction, water transported by tanker from other areas, or recycling and reuse of treated flowback or produced water.”

It added: “Where water is in short supply, there may not be enough available from public water supplies or the environment to meet the requirements.”

Water can be brought in from other areas, but this is costly, causes a nuisance to residents and is impractical in large quantities. It may be possible to use seawater in some areas.

UKOOG said dealing with such issues was one of the aims of the memorandum. Water UK said there could be risks to the water supply particularly in the south-east, where the pressure of population puts supplies under stress.

The Environment Agency admitted at a public meeting in Balcombe, Sussex – where the fracking company Cuadrilla has been drilling for oil – that pressure on water supplies could raise serious problems.

An official told local residents: “The big question mark is over cumulative demand for water in the south-east should this industry take on a much bigger size.”

The UKOOG memo came as four protesters were arrested while trying to stop a lorry delivering machinery to a potential fracking site in Salford. Three men and a woman were arrested on suspicion of obstructing the highway, police said. The four were part of a group of about 30 who had been attempting to block the delivery.

Captions:

A protest at a potential fracking site in Salford led to the arrest of four people

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November 22, 2013

Oil firm to pay penalty for discharging fracking fluid

Read here about an oil firm in California that has been fined $60,000 for discharging fracking fluid.

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November 14, 2013

Drillers recycle water

Read here about oil and gas drillers turning toward water recycling.

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November 12, 2013

Colorado Fracking Fight Looms

Source: Dow Jones News Service, November 7, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

(FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 11/7/13)

Energy companies in Colorado are girding for a statewide battle over fracking next year after voters in three communities passed bans on hydraulic fracturing and a fourth town voted to continue to allow the practice by just a handful of votes.

Despite heavy spending by the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, Boulder and Fort Collins passed five-year moratoriums Tuesday, and voters in Lafayette strongly favored an outright ban. All three are in north-central Colorado near the Niobrara Shale oil field, where production has been rising rapidly.

In nearby Broomfield, which has experienced more drilling than the other towns, voters defeated a moratorium by 13 votes out of 20,519. The tally remains unofficial and, if certified, would trigger a recount.

The vote in Broomfield, a suburban community north of Denver, was watched most closely because its residents have the most experience with the pros and cons of drilling, and because its politics mirror Colorado’s.

The antifracking effort, spearheaded by Frack Free Colorado, was supported by Washington, D.C., nonprofits Clean Water Action and Food & Water Watch. Patagonia Inc. also gave a grant to Frack Free Colorado. Petitions to get the issue on ballots were gathered by local organizers, some of them with affiliations to these environmental groups.…

October 30, 2013

ODNR confirms hydraulic fracturing in Ohio has not contaminated groundwater; plans to propose rules authorizing impoundments

Source: http://www.lexology.com, October 22, 2013
By: Anne C. Foster, Baker & Hostetler LLP

A recent article published in the Akron Beacon Journal indicates (click here) that of the 183 water-well complaints received by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) between 2010 and mid-October 2013, “only six water supplies were impacted by drilling over the nearly four-year period.” By phone, Mark Bruce, a spokesman from the Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management of ODNR, mentioned that ODNR thoroughly investigates each complaint it receives, and in some cases, investigations may still be ongoing. Nonetheless, he also confirmed that neither hydraulic fracturing nor horizontal drilling were to blame for the issues ODNR found at the six-impacted sites. Rather, the fact that these sites were generally decades old and abandoned led to the adverse findings.

As the article specifies, ODNR’s findings were not surprising, as “older wells and abandoned wells are more likely to create water-well problems with neighbors than horizontal wells.” With that said, however, ODNR continues to examine best practices from industry players, other states, and concerned citizens to minimize risks to human health and the environment. By way of example, ODNR is currently drafting rules which will outline a permitting process for flowback water impoundments applicable to companies choosing to use such pools in connection with horizontal drilling. Bruce also mentioned that companies may use the impoundments for the purpose of storing freshwater to be used in the fracturing process or storing (and perhaps reusing) the flowback fluids in future fracturing projects.

For further information regarding the flowback water rules and rulemaking, please refer to the following sources:

http://ohiocitizen.org/ohio-will-soon-authorize-fracking-wastewater-pools/

http://www.shalemarkets.com/odnr-writing-new-rules-for-lagoons-on-fracking/

http://oilandgas.ohiodnr.gov/

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October 18, 2013

California passes fracking law

Source: http://www.lexology.com, October 8, 2013
By: Philip L. Comella and William R. Schubert, Seyfarth Shaw LLP

California is the most recent state to pass a new, comprehensive statute with which to regulate the hydraulic fracturing industry.

The California statute is making headlines, and for a good reason: California contains an estimated two thirds of the nation’s shale-rock oil deposits. Further, since many details underlying the law remain unsettled, the stakes remain high – particularly in light of the fact that the statute authorizes civil penalties of up to $25,000 per violation.

The statute requires well operators to obtain permits before drilling. Permit applications must provide information including: the specific identification of the fracking well; the precise confines of the drilling activity; the names of any chemical constituents and fluid additives to be used; and written plans for the management of wastewater and the monitoring of groundwater.

The law relies heavily on public disclosure. Not only must well operators disclose information that will ultimately be made public (subject to assertions of trade secret protection) in the application, they also must turn over records after the close of operations. These will include “all electrical, physical, or chemical logs, tests, or surveys.” The law also provides that basic about the activity at each individual fracking well be published to an online database. Many operators already provide this sort of information to the public voluntarily. (See http://fracfocus.org/).…