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INFOGRAPHIC: Well Casing Failure Rates: Myth v. Fact

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A frequently repeated claim out of the anti-fracking camp is that, despite an outstanding safety record, shale development poses a risk to groundwater resources because of allegedly high well failure rates. In reality, failure rates are extremely low. Why? Sound engineering practices and best science. A well designed for oil and natural gas extraction typically houses seven layers of thick cement and steel. Furthermore, each layer has a unique role in preventing leakage. In order for a well to leak during development, each of those layers would have to fail.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) agrees that well failures are not commonplace whatsoever. In 2013 SPE said:

“[A]ctual well integrity failures are very rare. Well integrity failure is where all barriers fail and a leak is possible. True well integrity failure rates are two to three orders of magnitude lower than single barrier failure rates.”

This is true across all of the United States’ highly-productive shale plays. Data compiled by the Associated Press found that the well failure rate for oil and natural gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania is approximately one third of one-percent (0.33 percent). In Texas and Ohio, a 2011 Ground Water protection study found a well failure rate of less than 0.01 percent and 0.03 percent respectively.

The industry and regulators alike have stepped up to the challenge of a zero percent failure rate. The Marcellus Shale Coalition outlines specific responsive actions for operators in the area and the American Petroleum Institute has a lengthy list of well construction and integrity guidelines.

Check out EID’s new infographic – Well Casing Failure Rates: Myth vs. Fact – to learn more about how the industry is protecting our groundwater resources while developing affordable domestic energy supplies.

4 Comments
  • No * Fracking !
    Posted at 11:59 am, July 10, 2015 Reply

    […] protect the aquifer from migration of nasty stuff between layers. You can even cherry-pick to find industry statistics claiming that leakage is very rare, less than one percent (not true). But you won’t find […]

  • Kie
    Posted at 6:01 am, September 06, 2015 Reply

    Liars, industry and government documentation shows about 5% to 8% of well casing failing within the first year alone.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    • jason
      Posted at 8:54 am, July 26, 2017 Reply

      im with you all data that comes from international inustry data show around 6-7% failure within the first year and degrading to 30-50% over the life of the well thwn it continues to degrade futher eventually every well will fail.

  • Post Hoc ergo Propter Hoc: How To Be Ignorant... In Latin!
    Posted at 11:15 am, September 15, 2015 Reply

    […] or so OR within 1,500′ of a fresh water aquifer. Fresh water aquifers can also be polluted by old oil or gas wells with bad casing or that were never plugged, with or without […]

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