Source: Dow Jones News Service, June 26, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
(FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL 6/26/13)
Poorly sealed natural-gas wells — not hydraulic fracturing of shale-rock formations — are likely to blame for dissolved gas found in private water wells in Pennsylvania, according to a new study by Duke University.
Duke scientists found that 82% of the 141 water wells they tested in a part of Pennsylvania above the rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale had elevated levels of methane, the main component of natural gas.
Water wells nearer to natural-gas-industry drilling sites had the highest levels according to the study, published online this month by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
However, the study found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process of using water and chemicals to crack shale formations deep underground and unlock trapped oil and gas, was causing fluids to migrate upward into drinking aquifers closer to the surface.
Instead, it concluded that wells being drilled were most likely not adequately sealed, allowing gas to flow upward and sometimes enter aquifers used by homes. The combination of steel pipes, called casing, and cement sheaths used in well construction don’t always contain gas as intended, industry officials and observers contend.
“Poor casing and cementing problems are the simplest explanation of what we found,” said Rob Jackson, a professor of environmental sciences at Duke and lead author of the study, which was funded by the university.
Environmentalists have criticized fracking as an industrial threat to rural communities and their drinking water.
Steve Everley, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, a group funded by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said the Duke study “is not a smoking gun to say that gas drilling is a problem.” He noted how other recent research has found high levels of methane in water wells, even when there hasn’t been nearby fracking.
Source: Greeley Tribune (CO), June 18, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
PDC Energy on Monday formally agreed to pay $35,000 in response to February’s 30-hour, 84,000-gallon fracking flow back fluid spill north of Windsor.
During the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s meeting in Grand Junction, PDC offered to go above and beyond an otherwise minor fine by entering into an administrative order by consent. Typically, the commission weighs its enforcement options to the tune of $1,000 per violation per day, but in the case of the PDC incident — which was contained to the well pad and largely based on “bad luck” — that would have totalled only about $9,000.
“We understand that there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on the commission,” said Adell Heneghan, vice president of environmental health and safety with PDC. “We also understand that the community is crying out for more enforcement, and we believe that this is the appropriate thing to do.”
In addition to the fine, PDC will also arrange for three Weld County training classes titled “Effective Strategies and Tactics for Municipal Responders,” which will focus on strategies emergency workers can use when responding to an oil or gas well situation. Those classes, hosted by Texas-based Wild Well Control, will be held July 6, July 19 and July 20.…
Read here about a study being done on the effects of shale gas drilling on water quality that will not be complete until 2016.
Source: http://science.nbcnews.com, May 16, 2013
By: John Roach
The current boom in U.S. natural gas production from glassy shale rock formations is poised to usher in an era of energy independence and could bridge the gap between today’s fossil-fuel age and a clean-energy future. But that future may be swamped in a legacy of wastewater, a new study suggests.
Natural gas production is soaring thanks to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique that shoots several million gallons of water laced with chemicals and sand deep underground to break apart chunks of the glassy rock, freeing trapped gas to escape through cracks and fissures into wells.
An average of 10 percent of this water flows back to the surface within a few weeks of the frack job. The rest is absorbed by the surrounding rock and mixes with briny groundwater, explained Radisav Vidic, a civil and environmental engineer at the University of Pittsburgh.
“What happens to that water is a very good question,” he told NBC News. “We would like to know how much of it stays in the shale, and for how long, and is there a potential for migration away from the well.”
Vidic led a review study of the scientific literature looking into these questions, which is published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.…
Source: http://www.courierpress.com, May 15, 2013
By: Len Wells
A compromise has been reached in the Illinois legislature on a bill that would regulate the practice of high volume, high pressure hydraulic fracturing in Illinois. If approved, proponents believe an oil boom will be unleashed in Southern Illinois as producers target the oil-rich New Albany Shale formation.
The House bill, drafted with the help of industry and some environmental groups, was introduced in February with strong bipartisan support. However, the bill became stalled over an amendment requiring energy companies to hire Illinois-licensed water well drillers, which industry officials claimed was unnecessary for oil and gas drilling.
Under a compromise reached Tuesday, the water well component of the bill was removed, and instead, a provision was added that would give oil producers a break on severance, or “extraction” taxes if more than half of their workers were hired from Illinois and paid prevailing wages.
Some out-of-state drilling activity has started already in Southern Illinois. Near Johnsonville, Ill., in northern Wayne County, SM Energy of Denver, Colo., has started an exploratory well. Les Wilson Drilling Company, Inc., of Carmi, Ill. is the contractor on the project.
Strata-X, another Denver, Colorado-based company is poised to launch a major drilling project called the “Vail Project.” Strata-X had already acquired a 100 percent working interest in 47,850 gross acres of oil and gas exploration rights in two Southern Illinois counties. The company plans to target a dolomitic reservoir that is located beneath the New Albany Shale formation.…
Source: Wyoming Public Media, May 8, 2013
By: Irina Zhorov
An energy group says a recently released report overstated issues of water use by the oil and gas industry. The Western Organization of Resource Councils released the report last month and said regulators need to consider the quantity of water the energy industry uses, in addition to the quality.
But Research director for Energy in Depth, Simon Lomax, says the amount of water used for oil and gas development is .06-percent of total water use for Wyoming and the other three states studied, there are sufficient regulations in place, and that natural gas actually puts water into the hydrological cycle.
“For some reason they decided to ignore the amount of water that’s actually added to the hydrological cycle when you burn natural gas. It works out that for every billion cubic feet of natural gas that is burned you get about 11 million gallons of water added to the natural cycle in the form of water vapor,” says Lomax.
Powder River Basin Resource Council member Bob LeResche says, “water vapor going into the atmosphere does not replace it in a usable form for thousands of years, and even then, not locally.”
Source: http://theenergycollective.com, April 30, 2013
By: Grant McDermott
In planning my series on the environmental impacts of natural gas for The Energy Collective, I had always intended for my third post to cover the critical issue of water needs. While climate concerns may dominate for some (see my previous posts), it seems fair to say that the most contentious aspect of the shale gas revolution is related to fears over high water demands and contamination risks posed by hydraulic fracturing, i.e. “fracking”.
Unfortunately for me, Jesse Jenkins inadvertently pre-empted my article with a great recent post asking how much water is actually consumed by fracking for shale gas? (Short answer, probably not nearly as much as you think.) While I don’t wish to reproduce Jesse’s article verbatim, I think a recapitulation of his main points is in order:
Source: The Sacramento Bee, May 1, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
In the latest sign of Democrats’ determination to rein in the disputed extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a California Assembly committee has advanced three bills that would halt the practice in the state for the foreseeable future.
They were not the first fracking bills to make it out of committee this year, but they go further than other fracking legislation by calling for a moratorium to allow more time to study the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting a mix of chemicals and water deep underground.
Senate Bill 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, for instance, would prohibit the state from issuing new fracking permits only if a study on fracking was not completed by Jan. 1, 2015.
Paul Deiro, a lobbyist testifying Monday before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on behalf of the Western States Petroleum Association, told committee members that other proposals were “far more reasonable than the three moratorium bills you hear today,” arguing that there is no evidence that fracking is unsafe.
“The proponents of a moratorium have often said we don’t know, we need to collect information and find out,” but there are no cases of proven well failure or groundwater contamination in California, Deiro said. He added that a fracking ban would mean that the energy-rich Central Valley “loses the potential of creating millions of jobs.”
But Assembly members said they were responding to constituents alarmed that fracking is moving forward in California with seemingly little oversight or regulation.…