Just The Facts: Energy Experts, Top Forbes Energy Reporter Debunk “Preposterous” Hydraulic Fracturing Claims
Aug. 09, 2010 Leave a Comment
University of Houston professor Dr. Michael Economides in the Houston Chronicle:
- There have been two huge lies, the first that hydraulic fracturing somehow causes natural gas to migrate upwards through the geological formations, infiltrating drinking water aquifers. The second, is that “chemicals” mixed with the fracturing fluids will contaminate the same drinking water. … The idea that formations 10,000 ft below ground can somehow contaminate drinking water aquifers, 9,500 higher through the growth of the fracture height is beyond preposterous.
- The “chemicals” we use are not that many nor are they sinister. We use mostly gelling agents, not much different than the common kitchen flour to thicken the water to allow it to transport the particulates, tiny granular materials to keep the fracture propped so that gas and oil will flow into the well (still 10,000 ft below ground.)
- About 100,000 wells are fractured worldwide every year and in all my years in this industry I have heard of precious few examples of such accidents. The reason is that oil and gas wells are hermetically sealed with steal casing and a cemented annulus. They are perforated only at a very limited interval, perhaps 50 to 100 ft, exactly where the targeted reservoir is. Fracturing fluids will not go anywhere else.
- What is at stake here is at least 90% of natural gas production and perhaps 70% of oil production in the United States.
- A back of the envelop calculation suggests that the war on fracturing toys with about $200 billion per year. This is the incremental value added by fracturing in the United States at just the wellhead. The multiplier in the economy is several times that. The damage to the US energy supply would be incalculable. This is why the cavalier attitude of the environmental groups is hard to fathom.
Forbes’ Christopher Helman: “Can Gas ‘Fracking’ Pollute Groundwater? Unlikely.”
- Can hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells pollute groundwater? The anti-drilling crowd wants you to think so, and has convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to launch an investigation into fracking. Don’t believe them.
- Using underground sensors they monitored the success of these fracks–how the rock cracked, how far the frack fluids infiltrated into the gas reservoirs. What they found was that even in the most successful fracks, none of the fractures or chemicals migrated closer than 4,500 feet below the surface–thousands of feet below the nearest water aquifer.
- In short, if water reservoirs are ever contaminated it’s because of a problem with how wells are cased close to the surface, not because frack chemicals are oozing up from a mile underground.
- We need to end this debate. Many oil and gas companies would be ok with regulations covering how wells must be cased. But it’s absurd to even consider a ban on fracking. Without the process the U.S. would go from being self-sufficient in natural gas to depending on shipments of LNG from the likes of Qatar. Without fracking, gas would cost a lot more, as would electricity, chemicals, plastics, everything.
Pinnacle’s Kevin Fisher: “Data Confirm Safety Of Well Fracturing”
- In the more than 60 years following those first treatments, more than 2 million frac treatments have been pumped with no documented case of any treatment polluting an aquifer.
- As a result, hydraulic fracturing is now responsible for 30 percent of domestic oil and natural gas reserves, and has aided in extracting more than 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 7 billion barrels of oil, with much more to come.
- Studies conducted by governmental agencies and respected authorities have unanimously concluded that hydraulic fracturing is safe. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission all have found hydraulic fracturing nonthreatening to the environment or public health.
- The EPA conducted an extensive survey of hydraulic fracturing practices and their effect on drinking water in 2004. … The EPA agreed with the GWPC and the IOGCC that hydraulic fracturing is safe. More specifically, the EPA concluded that hydraulic fracturing does not create pathways for fluids to travel between rock formations to affect the water supply.
- Despite claims by environmental organizations, [Steve] Heare, [director of EPA’s Drinking Water Protection division] also reported that he had not seen any documented cases where hydraulic fracturing was contaminating water supplies.
- ICF International recently completed another key study that specifically addressed hydraulic fracturing activities in the Marcellus Shale play in New York. The study confirmed that the EPA findings were valid and found that there would not be any risks to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region.
- The data from these two shale reservoirs clearly show the huge distances separating the fracs from the nearest aquifers at their closest points of approach, conclusively demonstrating that hydraulic fractures are not growing into groundwater supplies, and therefore, cannot contaminate them.