Retrieved from: NPR
“Scientists are developing ways to add non-toxic tracers to drilling fluid so if groundwater is contaminated, investigators would be able to pinpoint if an oil or gas drilling operation was to blame.
“What’s impossible at the moment is if you’ve got multiple companies in an area and it’s thought there is contamination, there is no way to tell which company caused the contamination,” said Andrew Barron at Rice University in Houston.
“Barron is developing (along with colleagues at the University of Alberta) “nano-rust,” an iron oxide that could be injected into the ground along with drilling fluid.
“We’ve designed these particles such that we can fingerprint them based on their magnetism,” Barron told StateImpact.
“Should groundwater become contaminated, a magnet would collect the particles from the water and their magnetic “fingerprint” could be compared to tracers added to drilling fluid used in the area.”
Read more: NPR
Photo retrieved from: www.americanrecycler.com
“Energy executives fear that without addressing environmental concerns, fracking could be headed for a rapid demise. “France and Belgium have permanently banned it,” says Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Oil & Gas, an independent exploration and production company located in Irving, Texas. “And it has everything to do with water.”
Two major water issues concern critics. “One is the chemicals that go down the well and the fear that they will contaminate ground water,” said Faulkner. “The other is the water that comes back up.” To address the first, companies like Breitling are trying to come up with new formulations of fracking chemicals that won’t pose the risk of harming the environment. Companies that treat water from fracking operations to make it reusable are now seeing their own boom, as energy producers try to reduce the costs and environmental impact of existing ways of handling water generated from fracking.
Recycling water from fracked wells makes sense on several levels, according to Warren Sumner, CEO of Omni Water Solutions, an Austin, Texas, company that has developed a system to recycle the water.” “Today the practice of disposing of water typically involves trucking it to a disposal well,” Sumner said. “There’s a lot of cost and collateral damage from that trucking process.”
Read more: American Recycler
Retrieved from: The Guardian
“Ministers have been advised to allow the controversial practice of fracking for shale gas to be extended in Britain, despite it causing two earthquakes and the emergence of serious doubts over the safety of the wells that have already been drilled.
“The experts say hydraulic fracturing, whereby a well is drilled hundreds of metres deep and pumped full of water, sand and chemicals in order to release methane gas, should be allowed on a wide scale, although they accept that two small earthquakes in Blackpool last spring were caused by the first stages of fracking activities in the only British plants operating.
The government’s own data revealed serious questions around the safety of fracking in areas of known seismic activity, such as the two wells in Lancashire, because of evidence that the resulting earthquakes have damaged the integrity of at least one well. There is also apparent confusion over which government agencies should be overseeing the process to ensure its public safety, with the responsibility shared among several bodies that appear not to be co-ordinating.
“Environmental groups are worried not just about the potential dangers from earth tremors caused by fracking, but about the effects on the UK’s push to tackle climate change. Last month, the chancellor, George Osborne, and the new energy secretary, Ed Davey, launched a new “dash for gas” when they announced measures to encourage the building of new gas-fired power stations across the UK. Green groups argue this will put carbon-cutting targets out of reach, by locking in high-carbon emitting infrastructure and crowding out investment in renewables. “We should be developing the huge potential of clean British energy from the sun, wind and waves, not more dirty and dangerous fossil fuels,” said Atkins.”
Read more: The Guardian
Retrieved from: wtfrack.org
“The US government has released long-awaited rules on “fracking”, the process used to unlock oil and gas deposits hidden deep in rock formations that has revolutionised the domestic energy sector.
From 2015, oil and gas companies will be required to capture methane and other pollutant gases that are byproducts of fracking, which involves pumping a mixture of water and chemicals at high pressure to crack the surface of rock formations.
The guidelines, issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, represent the first federal clean air standards for fracking, the technology that has underpinned the breakneck growth of the shale oil and gas sector and holds out the hope of eventual energy independence for the US.
But they grant energy companies more than two years to meet the new standards, and do not cover wastewater produced by fracking, an increasing focus for critics of the industry.”
Read more: Financial Times
“A spate of earthquakes across the middle of the U.S. is “almost certainly” manmade, and may coincide with wastewater from oil or gas drilling injected into the ground, U.S. government scientists said in a new study.
“Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said that for the three decades until 2000, seismic events averaged 21 a year in a central U.S. region. They jumped to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.
” ‘Our scientists cite a series of examples for which an uptick in seismic activity is observed in areas where the disposal of wastewater through deep-well injection increased significantly,’ David Hayes, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, said in a blog post yesterday, describing research by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey.
“In hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — water, sand and chemicals are injected into deep shale formations to break apart underground rock and free natural gas trapped deep underground. Much of that water comes back up to the surface and must then be disposed of.
“The Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to release rules on air pollution from gas wells and on the treatment of wastewater. Other state and federal rules could force more disclosure of the chemicals used by the drilling companies.”
Read More: Bloomberg
Photo retrieved from: www.voanews.com
“A new study finds no evidence that the controversial practice to extract natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing is contaminating ground water.
The report, “Separating Fact from Fiction in Shale Gas Development,” published by the University of Texas Energy Institute, attempts to allay fears that fracking poses a threat to public health and the environment.
According to Charles Groat, associate director of the institute, fracking, which injects water and chemicals into a well at high pressure to shatter the gas-bearing rock deep underground, is not to blame for polluted wells.
“University of Texas environmental engineer Danny Reible believes natural sources of gas leaks must also be considered.
“There are certainly examples of natural gas wells that have casing leaks and have led to natural gas moving into drinking water wells,” Reible says. “There are certainly examples of natural sources of gas both in the deep or subsurface as well as in the near subsurface that have also contaminated water supplies.”
Read more: Voice of America
Retrieved from: b-fair
“The millions of gallons of chemical- laced wastewater that fracking produces must flow somewhere, and Ohio is trying not to be that place.
“The oil and natural-gas drilling boom spurred more permits for disposal wells there during the past two years than during the previous decade combined. The volume injected into them was on a near-record pace last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources, and more than half was from out of state. That included 92.6 percent of the water sent to a Youngstown well closed last year after 11 nearby earthquakes.
“We have become in Ohio the dumping ground for contaminated brine,” state Representative Armond Budish, the House Democratic leader, said at a Jan. 26 forum in Columbus. “We didn’t prepare adequately for the potential for earthquakes and other environmental problems.”
“Now, Ohio is considering tightening regulations governing wells in response to the temblors and seeking to stem out-of- state fluid shipments. It’s an example of the challenges U.S. states face as they try to enjoy hydraulic fracturing’s economic boost while avoiding its side effects.”
Read more: Business week
Retrieved from: The Star
One could make a compelling case for shale-rock natural gas, the latest advertised “game changer” in solving both the energy and global warming crises, if only we knew what we’re getting into ecologically.
Or, not to put too fine a point on it, whether we’re going to poison ourselves by extracting natural gas embedded in shale by injecting carcinogens under high pressure into rock formations 1,524 metres under the ground.
Soaring oil prices in the past decade have triggered a boom in “hydraulic fracturing,” or “fracking,” a process by which vast amounts of natural gas are tapped in sprawling shale-rock gas formations across North America.
Problems are emerging. While natural gas emits half the greenhouse-gas emissions of oil, a study to be published this week suggests shale-rock gas may be worse for the planet than burning coal. The problem is that huge quantities of planet-warming methane escape into the atmosphere from shale gas wells, according to research by a team led by Robert Howarth, a professor of ecology and environmental geology at Cornell University. The study was reported on yesterday by The New York Times.
Read more: The Star
“The American landscape is dotted with hundreds of thousands of new wells and drilling rigs, as the country scrambles to tap into this century’s gold rush — for natural gas
“The gas has always been there, of course, trapped deep underground in countless tiny bubbles, like frozen spills of seltzer water between thin layers of shale rock. But drilling companies have only in recent years developed techniques to unlock the enormous reserves, thought to be enough to supply the country with gas for heating buildings, generating electricity and powering vehicles for up to a hundred years.
“So energy companies are clamoring to drill. And they are getting rare support from their usual sparring partners. Environmentalists say using natural gas will help slow climate change because it burns more cleanly than coal and oil. Lawmakers hail the gas as a source of jobs. They also see it as a way to wean the United States from its dependency on other countries for oil.”
Read more: New York Times