Halliburton recently completed a horizontal well with multistage hydraulic fracturing at a depth of 4400 meters in the Neuquén Basin of Argentina. According to their press release it was the first horizontal gas shale well and the deepest shale gas well in South America. The well was drilled for Apache Corporation.
Representatives of industry and government agencies often state that there has not been one documented case of hydraulic fracturing contaminating a private water supply well. However, an EPA report from 1987 links hydraulic fracturing with a contaminated water supply in Jackson County, West Virginia. Those opposed to hydraulic fracturing hope to get a lot of mileage out of that report. More in the New York Times.
The NPR Talk of the Nation program for May 13 investigates the occurrence of natural gas in household water supply wells in Pennsylvania. In a study of 68 wells, those within one kilometer of a natural gas well had 17 times the amount of methane in the water.
Natural gas is a key factor in our long-term energy strategy. A panel of experts has been tasked with finding immediate steps to make hydraulic fracturing cleaner and safer. More in the New York Times.
Hydraulic fracturing was banned within the city limits of Buffalo, New York as the Buffalo Common Council passed the “Buffalo Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance”. An article on the EPOnline.com website reports on the vote and includes a video showing some of the public testimony that was received before passing.
“The Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy (FE) announced favorable results from a demonstration project turning wastewater from drilling sites into clean water.” Quoted from the Energy Information Administration’s Natural Gas Update.
The FracFocus website is all about hydraulic fracturing. It contains information about the process, the chemicals that are used and contact agencies in states were oil and gas drilling is active. It also has a “Find A Well” feature that allows you to look-up wells and view the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process. The site is provided by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.
The impact of hydraulic fracturing on ground water supplies is a concern in almost every area where the well stimulation method is employed. The Texas Water Development Board has published an informative study: Northern Trinity/Woodbine GAM Assessment of Groundwater Use in the Northern Trinity Aquifer Due To Urban Growth and Barnett Shale Development. Get the report here.
Natural gas companies are interested in drilling for natural gas in the shale basins of France, however, the government has extended a moratorium until environmental and economic studies are done. More at BusinessWeek.com.
“As natural gas production has increased, so have concerns about the potential environmental and human health impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the United States. [...] The overall purpose of this study is to understand the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water resources. More specifically, the study is designed to examine the conditions that may be associated with the potential contamination of drinking water resources, and to identify the factors that may lead to human exposure and risks.” Quoted from the EPA publication announcement.
The Deep Carbon Observatory is an initiative dedicated to achieving a transformational understanding of Earth’s deep carbon cycle, including its poorly constrained reservoirs and fluxes, the unknown role of deep biology, and unexplored influences of the deep carbon cycle on critical societal concerns related to energy, environment and climate.
The Common Council of Buffalo, New York voted to ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing within city limits. In addition, it bans the disposal of drilling waste water anywhere within the city. More at Empire State News.
An article on Bloomberg.com reports that the proppants used in hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells are in short supply. Proppants are tiny particles such as ceramic or aluminum beads that are injected into a well to hold artificial fractures open. It is not unusual for a hydraulic fracturing job to require a million pounds of proppants.
In a online presentation, Michael Arthur of Pennsylvania State University, reports that the Onondaga Limestone below the Marcellus Shale and the Tully Limestone above the Marcellus Shale, are competent rock units that block the migration of hydraulic fractures. In addition, the induced fractures do not migrate upwards into freshwater aquifers because of the great overburden stress and the horsepower limitations of the equipment.
A rock layer below the Marcellus Shale could prove to be another incredible source of natural gas. The Utica Shale is thicker, more geographically extensive and has already proven its ability to support commercial production.