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August 07 2012


Near Injection Wells, Many Quakes Go Unfelt

Examining earthquakes in the Barnett Shale from November 2009 to September 2011, a researcher identifies nearly eight times more quakes than had been reported, with the epicenters within two miles of drilling wells.

April 15 2012


More on the Link Between Earthquakes and Fracking

Next week, the United States Geological Survey will present a report on the increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma and Arkansas related to the natural gas industry, but it will identify more than one technique as the likely cause.
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January 31 2012


January 20 2012


72 Percent of Ohioans Want A Fracking Moratorium, Citing Need For More Study

The unconventional gas industry's latest rush in the United States will land it in the state of Ohio, but a recent poll shows that the state's residents are not rolling out the red carpet for an industry famous for threatening drinking water supplies, causing earthquakes, noise and air pollution and trying to proliferate global addiction to fossil fuels.

Results from a Quinnipiac University poll released today shows that 59 percent of those polled have heard of or read about hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," the complex and risky process that enables unconventional gas drilling. A whopping 72 percent of Ohioans familiar with fracking support a moratorium on the process until it is studied further.

The other 41-percent of citizens are likely to follow suit once they discover what is headed their way, and how little this industry will help them from a financial point of view in the long run.

Ohio recently found itself with the fracking shakes, as magnitude 4.0-level earthquakes struck near Youngstown on New Year's Eve. Scientists suspect the earthquakes resulted from a wastewater injection well disposing of fracking brine from Pennsylvania. The Christian Science Monitor explained in a story that the "quake triggered shaking reportedly felt as as far away as Buffalo, N.Y., and Toronto." 

These fracking-related earthquakes are not an aberation, but rather a repeated occurence linked to fracking in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, as well as abroad in the U.K., in the city BlackpoolAl Jazeera English recently ran a story on the Ohio fracking-induced earthquakes. Watch:


Fears 'fracking' causes Ohio Quakes

Multinational Gas Corporations Head to Ohio

On the financial side of things, the gas industry's rush to drill the Utica Shale is led by the nation's largest unconventional gas corporation, Chesapeake Energy. Chesapeake has a huge joint ownership stake in the Utica Shale with Total SA, the French oil and gas conglomerate. As DeSmogBlog wrote a bit over a month ago, "Total S.A. is positioning itself to acquire 25 percent of Chesapeake Energy’s stake in Ohio's Utica Shale, valued at $2.14 Billion." 

Also in on the hunt for gas in the Utica are industry giants Royal Dutch ShellChevronExxonMobil, Anadarko Petroleum, and Range Resources, a corporation now infamous for its use of psychological warfare tactics to "win the hearts and minds" of U.S. citizens in the neighboring Marcellus Shale basin.

So much for "energy independence," "boosting the local economy," and small, independent "mom and pop" gas industry start-ups.

Thankfully, Ohioans aren't drinking the kool-aid and have chosen, like the citizens of Bulgaria</a> recently did, to <a href=" https:="">fight back against the industry's destructive deceit. They are wise to demand a moratorium on fracking, which DeSmogBlog called for in Fracking The Future.

Time will tell if they succeed.

January 12 2012


‘Theoretically, Super Fracking Would Be Super Bad’: Gas Industry Touts Even More Extreme Drilling

According to Halliburton, one of North America’s largest hydraulic fracturing operators and suppliers, the “frack of the future” has arrived. Hoping to both increase well production and lower production costs, Halliburton is one among a crowd of energy companies looking to overhaul their fracking operations with new – and more powerful – methods.

Coined by Bloomberg as “super fracking” the gas industry is celebrating this new catalogue of high-intensity fracking technologies, dedicated to creating deeper and longer fissures in underground formations to release ever-greater amounts of the oil and gas trapped there. 

As Bloomberg reports, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and Schlumberger are each investing heavily in advanced fracking technologies.  Baker Hughes’ “DirectConnect” technology aims at gaining deeper access to underlying oil and gas deposits while Schlumberger’s “HiWay” forces specially developed materials into fractures to create widened pathways for oil and gas flow.  Schlumberger now supplies over 20 oil and gas operators with “HiWay” technologies, up from only two a year ago.

David Pursell, a former fracking engineer now consulting for Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. represents yet another method, one aimed at more completely shattering the rock comprising oil and gas reservoirs. “I want to crack the rock across as much of the reservoir as I can,” he told Bloomberg, “that’s the Holy Grail.” 
But others aren’t so sure the development of ‘super fracking’ is such a good strategy. 
Aggressive fracking operations have put environmental organizations and local communities on the defensive. And countless instances of water, soil and air contamination have already derailed the industry’s early attempts to promote unconventional gas as a clean, environmentally sound energy alternative. 
The announcement of ‘super fracking’ is likely to fall on jaded ears. After all, it's barely been two months since the Energy Department’s Shale Gas Subcommittee issued their rather scathing warning to the industry at large: “concerted and sustained action is needed to avoid excessive environmental impacts of shale gas production and the consequent risk of public opposition to its continuation and expansion.” 
Kirk Sherr, president of Regester Larkin Energy North America, is also concerned that a development such as ‘super fracking’ may be bad for business. “If critics already think fracking is bad, theoretically, super fracking would be super bad,” he told Bloomberg.
As is the case with already-existing fracking technologies, the cumulative impacts of super fracking are largely unknown. 
“This is a ferociously competitive business,” said Sherr, adding these new technologies “might not have been fully thought-through or tested prior to application in the field.”
Amy Mall from the Natural Resources Defense Council points out the need for far more independent science on this. “Just like any other type of fracking, we need a lot more independent scientific data and research to understand the risks and how best to prevent them,” she told Bloomberg.
Not surprisingly, others have begun to wonder what ‘super fracking’ means for localized seismic activity. Less than two weeks ago, Ohio experienced one of the largest fracking-related earthquakes on record at a fracking wastewater injection disposal well. All the wastewater from 'super fracking' will have to be disposed of as well, meaning more disposal well activity.
Perhaps ‘super fracking’ is the industry’s bizarre response to deep public mistrust? The risky rush to produce shale gas is facing increased scrutiny from investors and the mainstream media alike. As DeSmogBlog’s Brendan DeMelle covered yesterday, the industry’s myth of a limitless supply of unconventional gas looks set for a shale gas bubble and bust.  The characteristic difficulty of finding, extracting and processing unconventional gas is straining the economics of shale plays. 
As DeSmogBlog has repeatedly argued, a precationary moratorium on unconventional gas fracking is warranted while independent scientists carefully investigate all of the 'super threats' posed by the oil and gas industry's current practices. At the very least, I certainly hope to hear of corresponding ‘super monitoring’ and ‘super enforcement’ in the wake of this news about 'super fracking.'
Image Credit: Schlumberger

On Our Radar: A Fracking Confrontation in Ohio

Residents of Youngstown express disappointment after state officials decline to link 11 earthquakes to fracking for a deep-injection gas well.

January 03 2012


November 03 2011


On Our Radar: Fracking Protest in Britain

Reports linking minor tremors to fracking at a gas-rich site in northern England galvanize opponents of the natural gas drilling process.

September 08 2011


When an Earthquake Shuts a Reactor

Dominion has found what seems to be mostly cosmetic damage at its plant in Mineral, Va., and hopes to convince the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that its two reactors are safe to restart.

August 03 2011


Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission Bans Fracking Disposal Wells Due to Earthquakes

The Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission has voted unanimously to ban disposal wells for unconventional gas drilling wastes in a region that has been inundated with earthquakes. The decision requires the immediate closure of one disposal well and prohibits the construction of new wells in a 1,150 square-mile radius. Operators have also closed an additional three disposal wells on their own initiative, the Associated Press reports.

Earthquakes have become unusually common in some areas of Arkansas where increased unconventional gas related drilling is taking place. Residents insist that there is a correlation between the quakes and the area’s wastewater disposal wells. After monitoring hundreds of earthquakes, the largest a magnitude-4.7 in February, investigators began confirming the connection.

The Oil and Gas Commission discovered that four disposal wells were situated on a fault line responsible for dozens of earthquakes this year alone. As reported by the Associated Press, “after two of the four stopped operating in March, there was a sharp decline in the number of earthquakes. In the 18 days before the shutdown, there were 85 quakes with a magnitude 2.5 or greater, but there were only 20 in the 18 days following the shutdown, according to the state Geological Survey.”

For Commission director Larry Bengal, the dramatic reduction in seismic events was enough evidence to justify the ban. “We have to side with that public safety concern and address that in a way that maybe science does not totally support,” he said.

In April, gas industry giant Chesapeake Energy spokesman said the company disagreed with the alleged relation. “We believe there is a lot of natural seismicity in this area and there’s a lot more sub-surface data, and science and facts that need to be brought to bear.”

However, when a scourge of more than 800 earthquakes occurred in Guy, Arkansas over a span of six months, Chesapeake and another operator, Clarita, temporarily suspended their use of injection wells.

The gas industry has widely advertised their use of underground disposal of fracking wastes with the hope that it will alleviate concerns of wastewater reentering the public water supply without adequate treatment

Some fracking critics, like Dr. Theo Colborn of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, suggest that wastewater injection in disposal wells reintroduces the risk to groundwater, “creating yet another source of extremely toxic chemical contamination.”

The risk in seismically sensitive areas like those in Arkansas are much higher, according to biochemist Dr. Ronald Bishop of State University of New York, Oneonta. Regions which are “seismically active or intensively fissured pose greater risks for contamination than regions which are geologically sensitive,” he told DeSmogBlog.

Arkansas’ increase in quakes shows the kind of geological sensitivity Dr. Bishop is concerned about. Yet, the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission has not banned unconventional gas drilling in the area, only the use of disposal wells.

Earthquakes pose an enormous threat to the integrity of unconventional gas and disposal wells, potentially damaging cement casings, the sole barrier protecting underground aquifers from contamination. 

Concerns about this issue have sparked several research projects. The Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin is initiating a comprehensive study of fracking technology, including its effects on seismic activity. The National Academies has also assigned a committee from the National Research Council to investigate the connection between injection technologies, like carbon capture and storage and fracking, and induced seismic activity. 

But according to a geology professor at Marshall University, geologists have known for 50 years that underground fluid injection can cause quakes.

Another expert, Jack Century of J.R. Century Petroleum Consultants Ltd., says that high-pressure injection can have powerful effects underground. “When we start perturbing the system by changing fluid pressure, we have the potential for activating faults.” And “once local seismicity starts, it can’t be turned off.”

The decision by the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission may have come too late. It remains to be seen whether the disposal well ban will lead to a reduction of quakes.

Image Credit: Arkansans for Gas Drilling Accountability

March 31 2011


Solar, Wind, and Nuclear: South Africa's New Electricity Plan

Shortly after a quake and tsunami set off the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, South Africa's cabinet ratified a controversial 20-year plan that calls for nuclear power to fuel nearly a quarter of the country's new electricity production.
Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

March 29 2011


Live-Blogging a Senate Briefing on Nuclear Safety

As anxiety grows over Japan's troubled effort to stem the release of radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the Senate hears testimony from experts on the situation and on steps to improve safety at nuclear plants in the United States.

March 28 2011


March 15 2011


Questions on the Nuclear Crisis in Japan

New York Times reporters covering the nuclear crisis in Japan are answering questions from readers.
Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

March 08 2011


Reactor Design Edges Toward Approval, but Not Without Complaints

Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts asks the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to hold off until it has resolved a dispute with one of its staff members over whether a shield building in the new design could withstand an earthquake or the impact of a hijacked airplane.

October 12 2010


For Tsunamis, a New Tectonic Suspect

A "strike-slip fault" could cause more tsumanis than researchers had assumed, pointing to risks for cities like Los Angeles or Istanbul, a new study suggested.

September 29 2010


September 24 2010


Computer Simulations of Real Earthquakes Made Available to Worldwide Network

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100922171608.htm ScienceDaily (Sep. 22, 2010) — A Princeton University-led research team has developed the capability to produce realistic movies of earthquakes based on complex computer simulations that can be made available worldwide within hours of a disastrous upheaval. The videos show waves of ground motion spreading out from an epicenter. In making them widely available, [...]

April 18 2010


Volcanic ash cloud: Global warming may trigger more volcanoes

Climate change could spark more ''hazardous'' geological events such as volcanoes, earthquakes and landslides, scientists have warned.
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