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: Dow Jones News Service, November 19, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com
Companies are racing to find ways to recycle the water used in hydraulic fracturing, chasing an emerging market that could be worth billions of dollars.
From energy industry giants Halliburton Corp. and Schlumberger Ltd. to smaller outfits such as Ecologix Environmental Systems LLC, companies are pursing technologies to reuse the “frack water” that comes out of wells after hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” — the process of using highly pressured water and chemicals to coax oil and gas out of shale- rock formations.
While the recycled water can’t currently be cleaned up enough for drinking or growing crops, it can be cleaned of chemicals and rock debris and reused to frack additional wells, which could sharply cut the costs that energy companies face securing and disposing of water.
Some companies are finding it is still cheaper in many parts of the U.S. to inject the wastewater deep underground instead of cleaning it, which has slowed adoption of recycling technology. But experts say that is likely to change as fracking grows.
At Schlumberger, which predicts that a million new wells will be fracked around the world between now and 2035, reducing freshwater use “is no longer just an environmental issue — it has to be an issue of strategic importance,” Salvador Ayala, vice president of well-production services, told a recent conference.
Though fracking has brought U.S. oil production to its highest level in more than 14 years and produced a glut of natural gas, it requires huge amounts of water, raising costs for energy companies and spurring opposition from environmental groups at a time when some states are suffering through droughts.…
Source: http://www.riskandinsurance.com, January 10, 2012
By: Jared Shelly
State regulators have asked for a moratorium on injection wells from fracking.
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing often vehemently declare that the natural gas drilling process leads to unsafe drinking water in homes around fracking sites — sometimes the water is so gaseous it can be lit on fire.
But opponents may now have another talking point, as regulators in Ohio have declared a moratorium at five deep wells in the state, citing a possible link between storing waste water from fracking and seismic activity.
Fracking involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into the earth to break up layers of rock underground, allowing for the extraction of the natural gas trapped in those layers. Much of the waste water from fracking in Pennsylvania is housed in injection wells in Ohio. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that Ohio has 194 wells, while Pennsylvania only has seven; the state?s geology in large part won?t allow for that method of storing waste water
But the environmental risks of that method of water storage could be dire. Youngstown, Ohio has been hit with 11 earthquakes since December 2010, when D&L Energy Inc. began drilling wastewater deep wells. The most recent was a 4.0 magnitude quake on Dec. 31, which came on the heels of a 2.7 magnitude earthquake on Christmas Eve.
Arkansas regulators declared their own moratorium after earthquakes last year. Youngstown Mayor Charles P. Sammarone even bought himself earthquake insurance, according to news reports.…