Appalachian Basin

A Fact Based Discussion on Fracturing

Evan Branosky gave a presentation on hydraulic fracturing and surface water at the Sullivan County Energy Task Force meeting yesterday.  This is a topic that was the focus of his Master’s thesis so he’s pretty well versed.  Following recent self-proclaimed experts extolling the “dangers” of hydraulic fracturing it was a relief to see someone with this level of knowledge give a fair, balanced and thorough presentation. 

The Presentation

Branosky began by examining the effects of shale development. Take a look at the following clip where he discusses the length of time that the multiple shale plays in Pennsylvania could last.


Wow! So much for boom and bust.

Branosky also put the amount of water being withdrawn into perspective. Even when John Trallo asks about the withdrawals being overly consumptive, Evan  informs him it’s not significant when compared with other uses that are far more common. Take a look.


Since hydraulic fracturing and surface water is the subject  that Branosky is most familiar with, he took time to show the audience a simple illustration of the hydraulic fracturing process.  He also touched on the potential ways water could be contaminated if an accident were to occur. Further, he spends some time covering the procedures companies are using to prevent contamination from occurring. Take a look at the following videos.

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To prevent contamination, one thing the Susquehanna and Delaware River Basin Commissions are proposing are increased setbacks for a site. Take a look at the following two videos where he explains current and proposed setbacks and discusses the impacts this might have on the industry.

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He also addressed the disclosure of chemicals used in the fracturing process. Branosky says there are issues with Pennsylvania only requiring a Material Safety Data Sheets MSDS, but he informs audience members about where companies voluntarily disclose the chemicals they use. We can’t emphasize this enough.  You can obtain wellpad by wellpad information on additives on this site.  It’s worth checking out.

Take a look at the following video about current Pennsylvania disclosure policies.


Finally, Evan talked about flowback treatment methods and the different ways  companies are working towards cleaning the water that returns after a well has been hydraulically fractured. One note, though, is that companies are no longer using open pits for flowback and most have moved to a closed loop system. Please take a look at this video.


All in all it was a pretty good presentation. I took away that, as in any industry, there is the potential for things to go wrong, but with proper planning and precautions, natural gas can be responsibly developed in Pennsylvania. Thank you to the Sullivan County Energy Task Force for once again providing a great speaker to shed some light on an important topic.

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