Natural gas

October 15, 2012

New EPA Findings Test Fracking Site

Source: Dow Jones News Service, October 11, 2012
Posted on:

New tests of water surrounding natural-gas-drilling sites near Pavillion, Wyo., have turned up results that are ” generally consistent” with earlier findings showing a link between contamination and hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The EPA’s announcement could be a blow to natural-gas company Encana Corp., which operates the Pavillion gas field and has routinely denied any link between its drilling and compounds found in the EPA’s two monitoring wells.

Encana says the EPA drilled its wells into a gas zone, which explains the presence of hydrocarbons. The company also says the EPA has drawn improper conclusions from its data.

“EPA has provided no sound scientific evidence that drilling has impacted domestic drinking-water wells in the area,” Encana spokesman Doug Hock said.

Though the EPA has stressed Pavillion is unique and that any evidence of contamination there shouldn’t be used as an indictment of hydraulic fracturing everywhere, these tests could fuel concerns about hydraulic fracturing, dubbed ” fracking,” and the risk it potentially poses to groundwater supplies.

The EPA said Wednesday it would accept comments on its draft findings until January, extending a deadline that was slated to expire in October.

Fracking involves a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals injected underground to break open seams in the earth and unlock natural-gas supplies. Fracking paved the way for a boom of U.S. natural-gas production, but opponents say the drilling method contaminates groundwater and allows greenhouse gases to escape into the atmosphere.…

June 18, 2012

Drinking Water Contamination and Environmental Damages Due to Hydraulic Fracking

Source: PRWeb, June 13, 2012
Posted on:

Terry W. Roberson, a Houston oil and gas attorney, authored “Environmental Concerns of Hydraulically Fracturing a Natural Gas Well” published in Volume 32, Page 1, 67 of the Utah Environmental Law Review (2012). The article explores whether the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracking in shale gas formations damages the environment.

Houston, TX (PRWEB) June 13, 2012
Terry W. Roberson, a Texas energy lawyer, announces the release of the article, “Environmental Concerns of Hydraulically Fracturing a Natural Gas Well” published in Volume 32, Page 1, 67 of the Utah Environmental Law Review (2012). The article explores whether the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracking in shale gas formations damages the environment. The environmental concerns and the oil and gas industry’s response to such concerns include: groundwater and underground drinking water contamination through migration, casing or cement issues, and surface spills; hydraulic fracking wastewater disposal; human and animal health; air quality and pollution; and disclosure of chemicals in hydraulic fracking fluids.

Natural gas production plays a critical role in the clean energy debate because it increases domestic energy supplies and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. Shale gas, in particular, began to catch the public’s attention once natural gas drilling rigs were no longer silhouetted by the prairie, but instead pierced the urban skyline interlaced with homes, businesses, schools, and churches. The recent increased number of natural gas wells in populated areas is causing the public to question whether hydraulic fracking contaminates drinking water and affects human health.…

May 18, 2012

Vermont bans hydraulic fracturing

Source: Business Insurance, May 17, 2012
By: Judy Greenwald

Vermont became the first state in the country to ban the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, which is widely known as fracking, when Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the ban into law Wednesday.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that uses high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to free natural gas from subterranean shale deposits.

The legislation, H. 464, states the ban, which takes immediate effect, should be repealed “when hydraulic fracturing can be conducted without risk of contamination to the groundwater of Vermont.”

In signing the legislation, Gov. Shumlin said: “This bill will ensure we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy. It is a big moment. I hope other states will follow us. The science on fracking is uncertain at best. Let the other states be the guinea pigs. Let the Green Mountain State preserve its clean water, its lakes, its rivers and its quality of life.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced new standards last month intended to reduce air pollution associated with natural gas production, but observers say it will do little to quell controversy surrounding fracking.…

May 14, 2012

New decisions — pleading requirements for complaints alleging contamination from hydraulic fracturing

Source:, May 2, 2012
By: H. Victor Thomas Jr (Victor), King & Spalding LLP

The development of natural gas wells using hydraulic fracturing technology—fracking—has grown exponentially and increased natural gas reserves to record levels. Hydraulic fracturing requires the discharge of significant volumes of hydraulic fracturing fluids into a geologic formation under extreme pressure in order to dislodge and discharge “trapped” natural gas. The composition of “fracking fluid” may include chemicals that, depending on the level of exposure, are deemed to be potentially toxic.

The increased production from such drilling has helped to drive U.S. natural gas prices to historic lows, making profit margins thin or non-existent. Profits have been jeopardized further by the difficult-to-estimate costs of defending an escalating number of lawsuits alleging contamination from such drilling.

During litigation in the U.S., it is typical that before incurring huge costs of discovery, a defendant may move to dismiss an action due to the plaintiff’s failure to comply with state or federal pleading requirements.

This article discusses two recent federal decisions regarding such motions to dismiss complaints alleging fracking contamination, Tucker and Fiorentino. These decisions may shed light as to how other courts are likely to apply pleading requirements that may require dismissal at an early stage. They are applicable to estimating defense costs for fracking contamination litigation.…

April 13, 2012

Most US Consumers Unfamiliar With Hydraulic Fracturing-Poll

Source: Dow Jones News Service, April 10, 2012
Posted on:

Despite having unleashed a natural gas supply boom that is transforming the U.S. energy landscape and receiving extensive attention from the media, the practice of hydraulic fracturing is unfamiliar to most consumers, according to a poll conducted by the University of Texas at Austin.

The poll, released Tuesday, showed that 62% of the people surveyed said they weren’t familiar with hydraulic fracturing or “have never heard of it.” The practice, which consists of cracking natural gas-rich rock formations open with high-pressure jets of liquid, has helped create a glut of natural gas in the U.S. but has resulted in controversy, as some environmentalists say that the technique can contaminate acquifers. The oil industry denies that claim.

When asked to describe how they feel about the rules governing “fracking,” as the technique is known, about 38% of the respondents said they favor more regulation. About 14% said there is too much regulation.

The UT survey is a twice-annual survey of energy issues. About 2,371 people responded to the poll. The majority–65%–said that energy issues are important to them, and 61% said they would vote for a candidate who would back increased natural gas development.

A majority of respondents also backed further investment in renewable energy. About half of them said they were in favor of the Keystone XL pipeline expansion, a project that would bring additional Canadian crude to the U.S. Gulf Coast, but that is heavily opposed by environmentalists. The project is currently being reviewed by the U.S. State Department.…

March 27, 2012

Ironshore expands SPILL coverage to oil, gas industries

Source:, March 26, 2012
By: Mike Tsikoudakis

Ironshore Inc. said Monday that it has expanded its site pollution liability program with coverage for the oil and gas exploration and production sector.

The expansion of Ironshore’s Site Pollution Incident Legal Liability Select program offered by its environmental insurance unit will cover crude oil and natural gas wells, pipelines, compressor stations, processing facilities and others, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based insurer said in a statement.

Ironshore’s SPILL Oil & Gas program covers remediation of on-site or off-site pollution incidents, as well as bodily injury and property damage associated with various environmental exposures.

The program also covers operators and nonoperators of industry facilities, and exposures associated with hydraulic fracturing to obtain natural gas.

Ironshore said the expansion is in response to increased regulatory oversight of the oil and gas sectors.

Fills in gaps
“Regulatory scrutiny has increased dramatically over the past few years as governmental oversight has resulted in new and expanded environmental regulations that directly impact the bottom line of oil and gas operations,” John O’Brien, CEO of Ironshore’s environmental unit, said in the statement. “The SPILLS Oil & Gas program fills existing coverage gaps to protect against environmental exposures that are rarely covered under general liability or standard insurance products, thereby enabling operators to better manage unforeseen risk.”

The coverage, available nationwide, can be extended to cover water operations through an endorsement.…

January 25, 2012

NY takes action against Pa. driller over pollution

Read here about fines being sought from a Pennsylvania drilling company for polluting a stream.…

January 11, 2012

Waste Water from Hydraulic Fracturing May Have Led to Ohio Earthquakes

Source:, 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.…

January 3, 2012

Opponents of Gas Drilling In NY Look for Local Bans

Read here about how opponents of hydraulic fracturing in New York are looking to enact local laws to ban the practice.…

December 22, 2011

The Next Significant Environmental Issue in New York: Marcellus Shale Drilling

Source: “Legal Insights,” A Publication of Havkins Rosenfeld Ritzert & Varriale, LLP, Spring 2011-Volume 5, Issue 1
By: Tara C. Fappiano

Deep within the earth is a layer of sedimentary rock that is the gas-rich Marcellus Shale, a substantial portion of which lies in the Southern Tier, Twin Tiers and Catskills region of New York State. Hydro-fracking, a type of hydraulic drilling, offers opportunities for extracting natural gas from this natural resource. But, there has been significant debate about the potential environmental impact of these activities. At the same time, it is recognized that the Marcellus Shale offers opportunities for major economic development in areas of New York that have been hit hard by the recession. An executive order signed by the former governor in 2008, and extended in December 2010, placed a de facto moratorium on hydro-fracking in New York, sending land developers elsewhere, many to the neighboring state of Pennsylvania. However, that moratorium will expire in the spring of 2011. While the current gover­nor is expected to extend the order for some time, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has been charged with reviewing the environmental impacts and permitting process.


Mineral and Surface Rights

The first step for land developers is to obtain mineral rights through lease agree­ments or land purchases, with landowners in the region. They would then engage in exploration techniques to pinpoint drilling locations. Seismic testing is widely used in the exploration process, using vibrations and explosives that could adversely affect the surrounding land. Through this process, the drill sites are selected.…