Monday, September 16, 2013

Fracking - Let's Talk About It

Dear Readers,

Folks are writing asking me if fracking will kill us all one day like Liberal Hollywood wants us all to believe?

So since now the press is attacking fracking during the flooding in Colorado, I figured I'd address your e-mails.

But before I start, as a matter of full disclosure, I did once upon a time work in the energy industry.

Today though, I have no ties to the energy industry in any way shape or form - other than a consumer like you.

So where do we start?

Well first off, I don't believe fracking will kill us all.

After all it's been used for more than 60 years and has been safe during that entire time.

It's true. There is no proof that fracking hurts us.

Of course that fact does not stop liberal hysterics who want to find something to use to attack America's energy industry.

Facts don't stop Hollywood and the liberal media from attacking something they know nothing about!

In a hydraulic fracturing job, "fracturing fluids" or "pumping fluids" consisting primarily of water and sand are injected under high pressure into the producing formation, creating fissures that allow resources to move freely from rock pores where it is trapped.

Typically, steel pipe known as surface casing is cemented into place at the uppermost portion of a well for the explicit purpose of protecting the groundwater.

The depth of the surface casing is generally determined based on groundwater protection, among other factors.

As the well is drilled deeper, additional casing is installed to isolate the formations from which oil or natural gas is to be produced, which further protects groundwater from the producing formations in the well.

Casing and cementing are critical parts of the well construction that not only protect any water zones, but are also important to successful oil or natural gas production from hydrocarbon bearing zones.

Industry well design practices protect sources of drinking water from the other geologic zone of an oil and natural gas well with multiple layers of impervious rock.

While 99.5 percent of the fluids used consist of water and sand, some chemicals are added to improve the flow.

The composition of the chemical mixes varies from well to well.

To recap, the oil and gas industry injects water at a very high pressure of around 9,000 psi or more, which breaks though the rock and holds the cracks open - otherwise they would close when the fluid stops flowing.

That's the key, without the pressure being they would close on their own from the pressure within the earth itself. So yes, when the pressure is stopped - the cracks close from the pressure release.

And by the way, hydraulic fracturing offshore has been going on now for several decades, and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) has permitted it.

Thanks to fracking, for the 5th time in the past six years, North Dakota recorded the nation’s fastest growing personal income, which increased by 12.5%.

It's a fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, average personal income in North Dakota increased by 12.4 percent in 2012 thanks in large part to an increase in hydraulic fracturing.

Thanks to hydraulic fracturing, 2012 natural gas production in the U.S. is at its highest level ever.

At 24,062,889 million cubic feet, dry natural gas production in the U.S. in 2012 was at its highest level ever recorded.

So What Is Fracking?

According to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE): "Hydraulic fracturing is not a drilling method, but rather one of the many operations that an operator can propose to use on an Application for Permit to Drill or Modify."

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a proven and well-regulated technology.

First used in the 1940s, hydraulic fracturing has unlocked massive new supplies of oil and clean-burning natural gas from dense deposits of shale — supplies that increase our country’s energy security and improve our ability to generate electricity, heat homes and power vehicles for generations to come.

Fracking has been used in more than one million U.S. wells, and has safely produced more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

In addition to enhancing our domestic energy supplies, shale development has irrefutable economic benefits.

Hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus and Barnett Shale has boosted local economies—generating royalty payments to property owners, providing tax revenues to the government and creating much-needed high-paying American jobs.

Engineering and surveying, construction, hospitality, equipment manufacturing and environmental permitting are just some of the professions experiencing the positive ripple effects of increased oil and natural gas shale development.

Some opponents of oil and natural gas production claim that fracking has serious environmental consequences.

Fracking's Track Record

The truth is, while all development has challenges, hydraulic fracturing technology has a strong environmental track record and is employed under close supervision by state, local and federal regulators.

Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) have confirmed no direct link between hydraulic fracturing operations and groundwater contamination.

Studies estimate that up to 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing technology.

In fact, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recently testified that she was “…not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”

Fracking makes it possible to produce oil and natural gas in places where conventional technologies are ineffective. Access to new wells encourages economic growth and provides energy for all Americans.

The oil and natural gas industry is committed to the continued safe and responsible development of our domestic resources and ensuring that the public is part of the conversation.

Let's let's talk about ground-water contamination and how it "could" take place.

I have two very deep water wells on my property. One is at almost 3oo feet and the other is at almost 400 feet down.

They are very deep in comparison to water wells in the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area towns like say Livermore.

If there were oil drilling in my area, say right next door to my property, even at the depths of my wells, my ground-water would be safe from contamination.

The reason is that though water accounts for about 90 percent of the fracturing mixture and sand accounts for about 9.5 percent - which means that chemicals account for the remaining .5% (one half of one percent) of the mixture - the fracking process is taking place too deep for it to effect my wells.

"It's our experience in Pennsylvania that we have not had one case in which the fluids used to break off the gas from 5,000 to 8,000 feet (1,500-2,400 m) underground have returned to contaminate ground water."

-- John Hanger, former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
That's right! We're talking about wells that extend 5,000 to 8,000 feet beneath the earth!

To give you an idea of how deep that really is, imagine this:

On November 17th, 2011, Shell Oil Company broke its previous record for the world’s deepest underwater well.

Shell says it has started producing oil from a well 9,627 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

That depth is more than six times greater than the Empire State Building’s height.
Try to imagine the Empire State Building one on top of another 5 times. That's close to the depth that the fracking process is taking place.

Do you really thing that at that depth, that the process way down there can be effecting you ground-water a few hundred feet from the surface?

Let's Look At The Well Construction For A Moment - and where water contamination "could" come from.

And yes, all oil and gas wells use piping, sleeves and concrete when putting in a well - whether its a conventional well of one used in a fracking.
It's simply a part of the construction process of putting in an oil or gas well - for fracking or not!

Here's a short video about the process of Drilling an Oil Well, its construction.

Please note:

1) How the construction of the well piping to ensure no contamination enters the water tables close to the surface;

2) How the oil enters the well pipe - it does so through a perforated pipe.

This method has been used longer than most can remember; the only difference between a standard well and once used with a fracking method is the introduction of high pressure fluid to open the ground to allow more oil to be gathered. 

3) Note the safeguards and safety measures that the video shows are put in place before any oil or gas can be pumped out of the ground;

4) And please note the fact that this video comes from the extremely liberal State of California.

Since underground water runs on plates and sideways, the only way my ground-water could become contaminated is if there were a problem with the casing, the piping and sleeves, and the concrete put into place to protect the ground-water.

But how "could" oil, or say gasoline, get into our my ground-water?

If there is any ground-water contamination, then it has to come from the area near the surface - it has to be bad well construction.  

It cannot be coming from a many thousands of feet at the actual well openings in the perforated pipe.

We've used this system for more than a hundred years, and contamination comes from the rig and not way down below.  

Other than that, there is one more possibility that has nothing to do with oil and gas well drilling.

Years ago I met a man who did inspections of gasoline levels in the ground-water in the San Jose California area.

Those were the days before the fuel recovery systems used today under gas station underground tanks.

That was back in the mid-1980s, and I remember the inspector telling me that the underground fuel storage tanks leaked as they got older.

Their age and deterioration of the tank walls meant that gasoline leaked into the soil under the tank.

The seeping gasoline would of course rise atop the water (as oil separates itself from water) then it would travel on those underground plates.

groundwater contaminant plume

I remember him saying that he trailed one set of old tanks 40+ miles as he tested the water from one service station to another down the peninsula.

He showed me on a map where he trailed the ground-water contamination. Plotting it out, all he had to do was connect the dots and find its source.

But friends, even back then gas in the ground-water wasn't the result of a fracking module down in the holes those thousands of feet below the ground-water tables.

In that case, it would have been the old leaking tanks at the service stations.

Other than in that case where there is leakage into the soil from old gasoline underground storage tanks, and someone was absolutely certain that it was coming from an oil rig operations?

If there were ground-water contamination from the oil well?

Then anything in the ground-water from an oil or gas well would have to be a result of a problem with its protective measures during the initial construction of the well, or the waste water ponds.

It would be a problem with the safeguards near the surface and not what's taking place thousands of feet below the earth.

It has nothing to do with any process, standard or fracking, used after the well was put in.

About this Information

All of the information above has been researched so that we can get an unbiased view of fracking.

While the information comes from many different sources, most come from the energy industry which uses fracking.

I used mostly Energy Industry information because when I'm looking for technical expertise, I like going to the source. Since they use it, and I needed to know how it was done - so I consulted the experts.

Besides I didn't want to go to some Hate Fracking website to find out what they "think" takes place, I wanted to get the technical information.

It's sort of like going to a lawyer to find out the law, instead of going to someone who hates the law, lawyers, the whole justice system, government and everyone in it.

And yes, that's how I see so-called "environmentalists". They hate everything about mankind and society, and have no respect for our needs.

They don't understand the balance that has to be struck between our needs as a nation and the needs to keep our environment as perfect as possible.

No one that I know wants polluted rivers and streams and harbors like we had before President Richard Nixon created the EPA, but at the same time to attempt to produce an environment before the existence of man and animals is insane.

Environmental extremists accuse fracking of causing earthquakes, sinkholes and all other sorts of calamities.

It seems that if it were left to them, 9/11, the Johnstown flood, Hurricane Katrina, the Rim Fire, and creation of Big Foot would all be blamed on fracking by the oil and gas industry.

Fact is, after 60+ years of use, fracking has not been linked to any natural or made-up disasters.

Environmental extremists are simply too biased and unbalanced to trust.  

Story by Tom Correa


1 comment:

  1. For a minute there, Tom, I thought you were talking about the other F word.


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