Tag Archive for 'hydraulic fracturing'

Fracking, Seismic Activity Grow Hand in Hand in Mexico

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Scientists warn that large-scale fracking for shale gas planned by Mexico’s oil company Pemex will cause a surge in seismic activity in northern Mexico, an area already prone to quakes.

Experts link a 2013 swarm of earthquakes in the northern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León to hydraulic fracturing or fracking in the Burgos and Eagle Ford shale deposits – the latter of which is shared with the U.S. state of Texas.

Researcher Ruperto de la Garza found a link between seismic activity and fracking, a technique that involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into the well, opening and extending fractures in the shale rock to release the natural gas.

“The final result is the dislocation of the geological structure which, when it is pulverised, allows the trapped gas to escape,” the expert with the environmental and risk consultancy Gestoría Ambiental y de Riesgos told IPS from Saltillo, the capital of the northern state of Coahuila.

When the chemicals are injected “and the lutite particles [sedimentary rock] break down, the earth shifts,” he said. “It’s not surprising that the earth has been settling.”

De la Garza drew up an exhaustive map of the seismic movements in 2013 and the gas-producing areas.

His findings, published on Mar. 22, indicated a correlation between the seismic activity and fracking.

Statistics from Mexico’s National Seismological Service show an increase in intensity and frequency of seismic activity in Nuevo León, where at least 31 quakes between 3.1 and 4.3 on the Richter scale were registered.

Most of the quakes occurred in 2013. Of the ones registered this year, the highest intensity took place on Mar. 2-3, according to official records.”

Read more: IPS


Fracking is depleting water supplies in America’s driest areas

Photo retrieved from: www.theguardian.com

“America’s oil and gas rush is depleting water supplies in the driest and most drought-prone areas of the country, from Texas to California, new research has found.

Of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 2011, three-quarters were located in areas where water is scarce, and 55% were in areas experiencing drought, the report by the Ceres investor network found.

Fracking those wells used 97bn gallons of water, raising new concerns about unforeseen costs of America’s energy rush.

“Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country’s most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,” said Mindy Lubber, president of the Ceres green investors’ network.

Without new tougher regulations on water use, she warned industry could be on a “collision course” with other water users.”

Read more: The Guardian


Study Shows Underground Paths Boost Risk of Fracking Pollution


Photo retrieved from: www.whyfiles.org

“Researchers found it was unlikely that shale gas drilling had caused higher levels of salinity in some of the water wells sampled, since the briny wells were either not near drilling operations or showed higher salinity prior to drilling.

However, the examination also suggested that there must be natural pathways through which gases and salty brine liquid from deep in the Earth can travel in order to infiltrate and change the quality of shallow water wells.

“This could mean that some drinking water supplies in northeastern Pennsylvania are at increased risk for contamination, particularly from fugitive gases that leak from shale gas well casings,” Vengosh said.

The study focused on the northeastern Pennsylvania region and included 426 samples from groundwater aquifers in six counties overlying the Marcellus shale formation.

The formation is located about a mile underground and contains highly saline water that is naturally enriched with salts, metals and radioactive elements.

Valleys appeared to be particularly vulnerable, said Nathaniel Warner, a PhD student at Duke who was lead author on the study.”

Read more: AlterNet

Fracking: A cure or a curse?

Photo retrieved from: www.oregoncub.com

“A race is on to extract natural gas from vast swathes of the US. But is hydraulic fracking the cure for an energy-hungry country or a fatally flawed process that will have disastrous consequences for people and the environment?

Estimates of vast deposits of shale gas under US soil have led to intense pressure from industry and the government to extract it – in a process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Its backers say that hydraulic fracking is the answer to the US’ energy crisis and a way to prise the US away from its dependency on foreign oil.

But there is increasing evidence that fracking comes at an enormous cost to health, with reports of highly toxic chemicals seeping into water supplies.

The industry has spent vast sums of money lobbying the US Congress to avoid government regulation of its practices.

But now there are even new doubts emerging over the much-touted positive economic benefits fracking brings to the communities it so profoundly affects.

So, does hydraulic fracking come at too great a cost to our health and environment?”

Read more: Aljazeera


Shocking Negligence: Gas Companies Drilling in Pennsylvania Have Committed Nearly 1,500 Environmental Violations in Just Two Years

Photo retrieved from: AlterNet

“Since 2008, Pennsylvanians whose property sits atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation have suffered through enough environmental problems to clutter an encyclopedia: A is for arsenic, found in soil at concentrations of 2,600 times what’s recommended. M is for methane — enough to blow up a concrete well. X is for the toxin xylene. Et cetera. Sometimes troubles like these occur naturally. But recently, they have become the M.O. of an increasingly reckless natural gas industry — one that’s been exempt from nearly a dozen important environmental laws since 2005.

“A report published Monday by Pennsylvania Land Trust vividly illustrates the breadth of the gas industry’s complicity in drilling accidents across the state. According to the findings, 43 gas companies operating in Pennsylvania were responsible for nearly 1,500 environmental violations between Jan. 1, 2008 and July 25, 2010. A few of these companies had more violations than actual wells drilled.”

read more: AlterNet

Dash for Gas Raises Environmental Worries

Pumped: Workers release carbon-dioxide vapor after 'fracking' a natural-gas well in eastern New Mexico

Workers release carbon-dioxide vapor after 'fracking' a natural-gas well in eastern New Mexico. Retrieved from: Arch1Design.com

“Part of the problem, according to environmentalists, is that gas companies do not disclose at the wellheads what chemicals they are using. They also argue that regulations, which in the United States are mostly the responsibility of state governments rather than the national government, tend to be weak — especially in drilling-friendly places like Texas.

“On the national level, the industry obtained an explicit exemption for hydraulic fracturing from a key provision of the Safe Drinking Water Act, as part of 2005 energy legislation.

“Hydraulic fracturing requires an immense amount of water, another concern in water-constrained regions.

“The experience of the United States may foreshadow that of other parts of the world. Europe, for example, would love to reduce its dependence on natural gas from Russia, and discussions about exploring for shale-gas reserves are taking place in Germany, Hungary and Romania, as well as Poland.

“The Environmental Protection Agency, at the request of Congress, is about to start studying the effects of fracking on groundwater; initial findings should be ready by late 2012.”

read more: New York Times

State Decision Blocks Drilling for Gas in Catskills

“New York State environmental officials announced on Friday that they would impose far stricter regulations on a controversial type of natural gas drilling in the upstate area that supplies New York City’s drinking water, making it highly unlikely that any drilling would be done there.

“Although they did not impose an outright ban on drilling, state officials said that any natural gas company would have to conduct a separate environmental impact review for each well it proposed to drill in the Catskills watershed, which supplies the city.”

read more: New York Times