but there is now a new focus on oil shale fracs, and using the source rock as the oil production basis in the US.
if you wanna save on fuel, convert to CNG now and take advantage of the super cheap prices for natural gas. currently about 75 to 90 cents a gallon. remember when gas was that cheap?
I don't think we'll see these cheap natural gas prices for much longer... The fracking tech has bloated reserve estimates short-term but I keep reading reports about fracked wells with high initial flow rates that drop off quickly... Like 85% of expected reserves gone in less than ten years.
Lotta negative reports showing up about polluted drinking water wells as well...
The drillers say stuff like:
http://www.greenmuze.com/climate/energy ... cking.html
As an expert in hydraulic fracturing, I can honestly say that the bad publicity "fracking" is getting is unbelievable. There is absolutely no chromium used in any of the chemicals we pump and the chemicals that are pumped are harmless. Basic ingredients in a hydraulic fluid is a guar (same stuff in shampoo to give viscosity), a pH adjuster (a weak acid such as vinegar or a dilute bleach solution), and either boron or zirconium (both non toxic elements). Hydrocarbons can also be used for fracturing especially in the Cardium formation as Judy pointed out but these fluids don't even come close to water tables. What's happening with gas leaching into drinking water is from poor cement jobs around the casing and nothing to do with fracturing.
written by Dave , November 14, 2010
But they also publish stuff like:
http://www.clintoncountypa.com/CC%20Nat ... racing.PDF
Since most of the mystery and controversy surround the special-purpose additives and chemicals, letÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s use EQTÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s disclosure for their Ã¢â‚¬Å“HalliburtonÃ¢â‚¬Â recipe (found at http://www.eqt.com/production/compositions.aspx
) as an example and explore a little further.
According to EQTÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s website the following components make up a typical hydrofracturing recipe and serve the described purpose:
1. Water (4,127,000 gallons per well or 95.5297%) - Creates fracture network in shale and carries sand into the formation;
2. Sand proppant (182,446 gallons per well or 4.2232%) - Enables fractures to remain open and allow gas to escape into the wellbore;
3. Friction Reducer (4,127 gallons per well or 0.0955%) - Reduces friction between fluid and casing;
4. Antimicrobial Agent (2,137 gallons per well 0.0495%) - Eliminates bacteria in the water that can produce corrosive byproducts;
5. Hydrochloric Acid (2,503 gallons per well 0.0579%) Dissolves cement and minerals in the perforations;
6. Scale Inhibitor (1,142 gallons per well or 0.0264%) - Prevents scaling in pipe;
7. Gelling Agent (720 gallons per well or 0.0167%) - Creates viscosity to ensure sand is transported into the fractures;
8. Oxidizing Breaker (31 gallons per well or 0.0007%) - Adds viscosity to the fluid;
9. Enzyme Breaker (15 gallons per well or 0.0004%) - Reduces viscosity of the fluid.
and this report:
http://www.greenmuze.com/climate/energy ... cking.html
Oil and gas companies like EnCana, Imperial Oil, Suncor, ConocoPhilips, ExxonMobil, etc., generally donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do the hydraulic fracturing themselves, but instead hire specialty services to do it. Each of the big players in the multi-billion-dollar fracking industry Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Halliburton, Calfrac Well Services, Schlumberger, BJ Services (all of which operate in Western Canada) Ã¢â‚¬â€œ has its own recipe for fracking fluids, of which they are fiercely protective. The precise nature and concentrations of the chemicals in these Ã¢â‚¬Å“proprietary fluidsÃ¢â‚¬Â are not even fully known to government regulatory agencies.
By examining drillersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ patent applications and government worker health and safety records, some environmentalists and regulators in the US have been able to piece together a list of some of the fracking fluid ingredients. These include potentially toxic substances such as diesel fuel (which contains benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, and napththalene), 2-butoxyethanol, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, methanol, formaldehyde, ethylene, glycol, glycol ethers, hydrocholoric acid, and sodium hydroxide.
Gotta admit I haven't paid too much attention to the fracking yet... not a local issue for me but hard to miss the reports in the medias... The closest "action" to me is the Marcellus Shale Play. Little bit in Quebec too, but Marcellus is huge... on paper. Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, New York...
Anyway, I picked on little Clinton County in PA. Population only 40,000 and only 900 sq.miles.
County seat is a small city of 9000 souls named "Lock Haven" watt I find attractive for some strange reason...
Their gov provided an explanation about watt fracking is all about as the frackers have come to town:
http://www.clintoncountypa.com/CC%20Nat ... 20Play.PDF
8/26/10 Understanding the Marcellus Shale Play
Welcome to the new Ã¢â‚¬Å“GasFacts: Understanding the Marcellus Shale PlayÃ¢â‚¬Â column. The Marcellus Shale is a rock formation 5,000-8,000 feet below surface of roughly 70% of Clinton County. Overall, the Marcellus Shale Play covers 95,000 square miles in portions of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York and is estimated to contain up to 489 trillion cubic feet of natural gas making the Marcellus the largest natural gas field in the continental United States and one of the largest fields in the world (Engelder, 2009).
After leasing, a variety of permits for erosion and sedimentation, water impoundments, drilling, etcÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ are required to drill a Marcellus Well. All natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania is regulated by the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Law. All Pennsylvania drilling activity requires a permit, which is issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The number of Marcellus drilling permits issued in the state as of August 20, 2010 topped 1,977, only eight fewer than all of 2009. Clinton County is on a slightly higher permit pace than 2009 with 34 permits being issued so far in 2010, or just seven fewer than all of 2009.
Once all the appropriate permits have been secured, well pad construction begins. Well pads are about five acres in size or about the size of 2Â½ to 3Â½ football fields. A well pad generally serves a drilling block of 500 to 1,000 acres. The predominant practice in Pennsylvania has been for energy companies to drill more than one well per pad, which greatly reduces the footprint of drilling operations. Reports from the field indicate the current practice of energy companies is to drill four to 10 wells per pad. Early rough estimates for Clinton County are for 464-580 well pads containing 2,782-4,636 wells.
After construction of the well pad, a drilling rig will move in. The modern drilling rig is very large and very powerful. A single drilling rig can take 50-65 tractor trailers to move and will stand well over 100 feet tall. Most Marcellus Shale wells are drilled down vertically 5,000 to 8,000 feet and then horizontally between 3,000 to 5,000 feet on average. To drill vertically then horizontally, the drilling rigs use a special bit to gradually turn the drilling pipe over about 1,000 vertical feet. Currently in Pennsylvania there are 89 drilling rigs operating, up more than 71% from the same time last year. One drilling rig will drill between 8-12 wells per year. At the peak in June and July, Clinton County had three rigs operating. So far this year 827 Marcellus wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania, up more than 14% over all of 2009. Bradford County has the most wells drilled in 2010 with 225. Clinton County has 17 wells drilled so far in 2010, up more than 41% from last year.
After drilling, the energy companies will use a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking to stimulate natural gas production. Fracking involves the use of 3-6 million gallons of water and roughly five groups of chemicals are used to fracture the shale and release the natural gas. Water withdrawals in much of Pennsylvania are permitted by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC). During the well stimulation phase people generally notice a large increase in truck traffic hauling equipment, water, sand, and chemicals. Convoys of more than 35+ trucks have been reported on several local roads. Fracking generally takes just a few days per well. Immediately following fracking, the first signs of a successful well appear with a natural gas fire called a flare. A flare is normal and is used to determine the initial daily flow of a well and to provide for the safety of the production crew while the well is brought on-line.
After fracking roughly 25% of the water used will come out of the well in what is called flow-back water. Over the life of the well perhaps 40-50% of the water used in fracking will come back out of the well in the form of flow-back or production water. Much of the current debate about fracking stems from the treatment/disposal of flow-back and production water and the level of risk for ground water. To help find where the facts are about fracking, the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently undertaking a study to review unconventional shale fracking practices and the current fracking exemptions in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
In order to bring natural gas to a home from the well, significant production infrastructure needs to be constructed. Natural gas infrastructure construction includes pipelines, compressor stations, natural gas storage areas, and in southwestern PA, processing facilities to remove other valuable energy sources including oil, heavy gasoline, propane, butane, ethane and more.
Sounds like if all goes well the frackers expect up to 580 well pads serving an average of eight wells each that will cover about 435,000 acres, or 680 square miles...
Of the Clinton County area of 900 square miles total about 8% is farmland and about 70% is forested. Less than 1% water. Almost half of the whole County is given over to National Forests and State Parks...
So I'm not clear on where the frackers will be putting all their wells? Are my American cousins OK with wells and pipelines etc in their national forests?
They seem to be OK with coal mines... or maybe not:
http://www.esri.com/news/arcnews/fall08 ... g-gis.html
Abandoned coal mines cover hundreds of thousands of acres throughout the eastern United States. As such, having accurate maps of them is important to keep those involved in their cleanup spatially informed. In Pennsylvania, a regional nonprofit abandoned mine reclamation group is promoting the use of a state-of-the-art GIS mapping tool to assist in the reclamation of mined-out land. The tool, created by the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation (EPCAMR), has proved successful in maximizing the limited funds available for restoring this blighted land to its approximate premined state.
As recently as 30 years ago, coal mining companies weren't required to clean up and restore the land they excavated. Streams ran orange, green, and white with heavy metals leached from nearby mines. Strip pits with sheer cliffs were a hazard, causing many people to fall to their deaths. Pennsylvania was left with more than 200,000 acres of mine-scarred land and 5,000 miles of polluted streams. As the impact of surface mining became evident in the mid-1970s, Congress passed the Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) in 1977. SMCRA attached a per-ton fee to all extracted coal to create an interest-accruing federal reclamation fund. The fund is maintained by the United States Department of the Interior Office of Surface Mining (OSM) and is dispersed to states and Native American tribes that still face problems caused by coal mines abandoned before 1977.
Because Pennsylvania leads most states in the amount of reclamation that needs to be done, in 2006, Congress authorized an increase in Pennsylvania's reclamation allotment to $1.4 billion over the next 15 years. With so many abandoned mines still awaiting reclamation in Pennsylvania, EPCAMR sought a way to more efficiently pinpoint the areas in need of remediation. Although the new allotment will significantly increase the work that can be done, $1.4 billion still needs to go a long way.
Clinton County actually got off lucky in this regard. In surface coal mining the county ranks about eighteenth in the State... Clinton never had much coal to begin with compared to its neighbouring counties...
But it did have some mines once in its northern part. In the Northern Half many streams are polluted with Acid Mine Drainage.
The Southern half is primarily farmland in the valleys and forested in the ridges. Nutrient Pollution and sedimentation are the principal concerns there.
And Clinton County is in a watershed. Most of its streams feed into the West Branch of the Susquehanna River... on its way to Chesapeake Bay.
The West Susquehanna as it flows through Lock Haven serves a drainage area of about 3,300 sq.miles so a lot of the water in Clinton County actually flows from neighbouring counties and the north, where the mines are.
Right now the West Susquehanna is flowing past Lock Haven at about 2000 cu.ft/sec... about 1,292 million gallons of water a day.
If the frackers get their 4,636 wells and each well uses 4.5 million gallons in the fracking process that'd be "only" about 21,000 millions of gallons over the useful life of the wells. Does sound like a bit of a drop in the old bucket...
Maybe half buried a mile underground and the other 10,000-11,000 million gallons back to the surface as "flow-back" requiring treatment...
The frackers insist the flow-back can be treated but so far their track record hasn't been good:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110103/ap_ ... ackwater_4
By DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press David B. Caruso, Associated Press Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Mon Jan 3, 2:48 pm ET
The natural gas boom gripping parts of the U.S. has a nasty byproduct: wastewater so salty, and so polluted with metals like barium and strontium, that most states require drillers to get rid of the stuff by injecting it down shafts thousands of feet deep.
Not in Pennsylvania, one of the states at the center of the gas rush.
There, the liquid that gushes from gas wells is only partially treated for substances that could be environmentally harmful, then dumped into rivers and streams from which communities get their drinking water.
In the two years since the frenzy of activity began in the vast underground rock formation known as the Marcellus Shale, Pennsylvania has been the only state allowing waterways to serve as the primary disposal place for the huge amounts of wastewater produced by a drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
State regulators, initially caught flat-footed, tightened the rules this year for any new water treatment plants but allowed any existing operations to continue discharging water into rivers.
At least 3.6 million barrels of the waste were sent to treatment plants that empty into rivers during the 12 months ending June 30, according to state records. That is enough to cover a square mile with more than 8 1/2 inches of brine.
Researchers are still trying to figure out whether Pennsylvania's river discharges, at their current levels, are dangerous to humans or wildlife. Several studies are under way, some under the auspices of the Environmental Protection Agency.
State officials, energy companies and the operators of treatment plants insist that with the right safeguards in place, the practice poses little or no risk to the environment or to the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on those rivers for drinking water.
But an Associated Press review found that Pennsylvania's efforts to minimize, control and track wastewater discharges from the Marcellus Shale have sometimes failed.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Of the roughly 6 million barrels of well liquids produced in a 12-month period examined by The AP, the state couldn't account for the disposal method for 1.28 million barrels, about a fifth of the total, because of a weakness in its reporting system and incomplete filings by some energy companies.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Some public water utilities that sit downstream from big gas wastewater treatment plants have struggled to stay under the federal maximum for contaminants known as trihalomethanes, which can cause cancer if swallowed over a long period.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Regulations that should have kept drilling wastewater out of the important Delaware River Basin, the water supply for 15 million people in four states, were circumvented for many months.
In 2009 and part of 2010, energy company Cabot Oil & Gas trucked more than 44,000 barrels of well wastewater to a treatment facility in Hatfield Township, a Philadelphia suburb. Those liquids ultimately were discharged into a creek that provides drinking water to 17 municipalities with more than 300,000 residents. Cabot acknowledged it should not have happened.
People in those communities had been told repeatedly that the watershed was free of gas waste.
"This is an outrage," said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, an environmental group. "This is indicative of the lack of adequate oversight."
The situation in Pennsylvania is being watched carefully by regulators in other states, some of which have begun allowing some river discharges. New York also sits over the Marcellus Shale, but Gov. David Paterson has slapped a moratorium on high-volume fracking while environmental regulations are drafted.
Industry representatives insist that the wastewater from fracking has not caused serious harm anywhere in Pennsylvania, in part because it is safely diluted in the state's big rivers. But most of the largest drillers say they are taking action and abolishing river discharges anyway.
Cabot, which produced nearly 370,000 barrels of waste in the period examined by the AP, said that since the spring it has been reusing 100 percent of its well water in new drilling operations, rather than trucking it to treatment plants.
"Cabot wants to ensure that everything we are doing is environmentally sound," said spokesman George Stark. "It makes environmental sense and economic sense to do it."
All 10 of the biggest drillers in the state say they have either eliminated river discharges in the past few months, or reduced them to a small fraction of what they were a year ago. Together, those companies accounted for 80 percent of the wastewater produced in the state.
The biggest driller, Atlas Resources, which produced nearly 2.3 million barrels of wastewater in the review period, said it is now recycling all water produced by wells in their first 30 days of operation, when the flowback is heaviest. The rest is still sent to treatment plants, but "our ultimate goal is to have zero surface discharge of any of the water," said spokesman Jeff Kupfer.
How much wastewater is still being discharged into rivers is unclear. Records verifying industry claims of a major drop-off will not be available until midwinter.
Natural gas drilling has taken off in several states in recent years because of fracking and horizontal drilling, techniques that allow the unlocking of more methane than ever before.
Fracking involves injecting millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand deep into the rock, shattering the shale and releasing the gas trapped inside. When the gas comes to the surface, some of the water comes back, too, along with underground brine that exists naturally.
It can be several times saltier than sea water and tainted with fracking chemicals, some of which can be carcinogenic if swallowed at high enough levels over time.
The water is also often laden with barium, which is found in underground ore deposits and can cause high blood pressure, and radium, a naturally occurring radioactive substance.
In other places where fracking has ignited a gas bonanza, like the Barnett Shale field in Texas, the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana, and deposits in West Virginia, New Mexico and Oklahoma, the dominant disposal method for drilling wastewater is to send it back down into the ground via injection wells.
In some arid states, wastewater is also treated in evaporation pits. Water is essentially baked off by the sun, leaving a salty sludge that is disposed of in wells or landfills.
Operators of the treatment plants handling the bulk of the Pennsylvania waste say they can remove most of the toxic substances without much trouble, including radium and barium, before putting the water back into rivers.
"In some respects, its better than what's already in the river," said Al Lander, president of Tunnelton Liquids, a treatment plant that discharges water into western Pennsylvania's Conemaugh River.
The one thing that can't be removed easily, except at great expense, he said, is the dissolved solids and chlorides that make the fluids so salty.
Those substances usually don't pose a risk to humans in low levels, said Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia, but large amounts can give drinking water a foul taste, leave a film on dishes and give people diarrhea. Those problems have been reported from time to time in some places.
Those salts can also trigger other problems.
The municipal authority that provides drinking water to Beaver Falls, 27 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, began flunking tests for trihalomethanes regularly last year, around the time that a facility 18 miles upstream, Advanced Waste Services, became Pennsylvania's dominant gas wastewater treatment plant.
Trihalomethanes are not found in drilling wastewater, but there can be a link. The wastewater often contains bromide, which reacts with the chlorine used to purify drinking water. That creates trihalomethanes.
The EPA says people who drink water with elevated levels of trihalomethanes for many years have an increased risk of cancer and could also develop liver, kidney or central nervous system problems.
Pennsylvania's multitude of acid-leaching, abandoned coal mines and other industrial sources are also a major source of the high salt levels that lead to the problem.
Beaver Falls plant manager Jim Riggio said he doesn't know what is keeping his system off-kilter, but a chemical analysis suggested it was linked to the hundreds of thousands of barrels of partially treated gas well brine that now flow past his intakes every year.
"It all goes back to frackwater," he said.
Folks in PA are pretty sensitive about their water. Of the total population of PA (12.7mil) about 2.5 million get their water from private, individual supplies, which are unregulated by state and federal government agencies. Most of their private water supplies are wells fed by ground water. And just because a water supply is pumped from underground, whether from a deep or a shallow well, there are no guarantees that the water from that well is safe and pollutant free.
There are about a million individual water supplies, and about 20,000 new wells are drilled each year. Every well, if not sited or constructed properly, provides a potential pathway for contaminants to enter groundwater. In addition, the water itself could be contaminated from any of a number of sources, both above and below ground.
About half of the water wells that have been tested have at least one water-quality problem. These range from aesthetic, such as staining or unpleasant taste, often related to secondary pollutants from the bedrock carrying the ground water, to legitimate health concerns arising from high levels of primary pollutants, including bacteria, nitrate, sulfate, or trace metals such as arsenic, lead, and zinc. These primary contaminates can derive from nearby mining, agricultural, and manufacturing activities, as well as malfunctioning septic systems, and in central PA valleys, trash- and garbage-filled sinkholes.
Kinda ironic for the folks in Lock Haven and Clinton County that with all this mining going on around them they also had a US Superfund pollution problem right in their own front yard:
When the site was first placed on the NPL the eight-acre Drake Chemical site Lock Haven, Clinton County, Pennsylvania, operated as a chemical plant from the 1960s to 1981, manufacturing chemical ingredients for pesticides and other compounds. Six major buildings, including former offices, production facilities, and a wastewater treatment building were located there. There were approximately 60 process tanks and reactors inside and surrounding the process buildings. Outside the buildings were approximately 10 large tanks that were used for bulk storage of acids, bases, and fuel oils. Also located on-site were two lined wastewater treatment lagoons, and two unlined lagoons. Chemical sludge and contaminated soils had been filled in all of the open area on the site.
In 1982, EPA removed 1,700 exposed drums and drained and neutralized tanks. The site was secured by an 8-foot fence, and warning signs were posted. The agency excavated the soil in the leachate run off area and directed the run off into a sewer line in 1986. The lagoon where the leachate drained from was excavated and the soil was treated on site. The buildings and other structures were demolished and removed to an off-site hazardous waste facility in 1988. The contaminated soil was excavated and treated in an on-site incinerator. Over 295,000 tons of soil was processed through the incinerator with an average of 27.5 tons per hour. Processed soil has been backfilled on site. Compost was mixed into the upper layer of processed soil and grass was planted. Following completion in the spring of 1999, the incinerator was removed. The groundwater remediation began in the summer of 1999 and the entire treatment system was constructed and began operating in the fall of 2000. The treatment system continues to operate. The second Five Year Review was issued in in September 2008.
And of course the Superfund doesn't pay for some of the other costs like related health problems:
"Drake Chemical Workers' Health Registiy: Coping with Community Tension over Toxic Exposures"
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/article ... 6-0019.pdf
Anywhooo... I hope I'm wrong but if history is anything to go by the frackers will get their drilling permits and they will drill their wells and build their pipelines and refineries and extract their profits over the next five-ten years max., then it will blow up in everybuddies faces, and the real costs of fracking will be paid for by generations to come. The frackers will have to raise their prices just to pay for the fines and penalties, unless they can just declare bankrupcy and leave town, like Drake Chemical did...