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E.P.A. Links Tainted Water in Wyoming to Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas
Kirk Johnson, New York Times
Chemicals used to hydraulically fracture rocks in drilling for natural gas in a remote valley in central Wyoming are the likely cause of contaminated local water supplies, federal regulators said Thursday.
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The draft report, after a three-year study by the Environmental Protection Agency, represents a new scientific and political skirmish line over whether fracking, as it is more commonly known, poses a threat in the dozens of places around the nation where it is now being used to extract previously unreachable energy resources locked within rock.
The study, which was prompted by complaints from local residents about the smell and taste of their water, stressed that local conditions were unusual at the site, called the Pavillion field, in that the gas wells were far shallower than in many other drilling areas around the country. The shallow depth means that natural gas itself can seep upward naturally through the rock, and perhaps into aquifers.
But the suite of chemicals found in two test wells drilled at the site, the report said, could not be explained entirely by natural processes...
(8 December 2011)
Link to the draft report
Shale gas drilling's dirty secret is out
Josh Fox, The Guardian
Thursday's stunning announcement from US EPA that implicates hydrofracturing ("fracking") as the cause of groundwater contamination in Pavillion, Wyoming is news that has rocked the world. But as groundbreaking and innovative as the investigation has been, the news comes as no surprise to anyone who has been following fracking closely...
Since April 2009, I have been documenting the water contamination in the gas fracking field in Pavillion, Wyoming. The testimony of Pavillion cowboys John Fenton, Louis Meeks and Jeff Locker and their incredible families is some of the most stirring in our film Gasland. Since that time, I have been closely following the extensive three-year EPA investigation, and the results have shown over and over again that there were contaminants in the groundwater, which posed a significant health risk to the residents.
Yet the EPA withheld any language that sounded conclusive – until now. When the whole world is watching, when the gas industry is decrying a lack of science (even as they obstruct and smear the science that has been done), and when the health of the state of New York, alongside significant areas in 34 states and 50 countries worldwide is on the line, you want to make sure that your methods are precise and your statements are conservative.
So, when the EPA now says, "When considered together with other lines of evidence, the data indicates likely impact to groundwater that can be explained by hydraulic fracturing," that is something quite new...
(9 December 2011)
Josh Fox is the writter/directer/producer of the documentary feature Gasland
Encana throws cold water on EPA report
Eoin O'Cinneide, Upstream
The Canadian gas behemoth lambasted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s report on water quality at Pavillion, Wyoming as containing “unacceptable inconsistency”, “conjecture” and “numerous flaws”.
On Thursday the EPA released the draft report which claimed that “ground water in the aquifer contains compounds likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing”. The EPA investigation also found synthetic chemicals such as glycols and alcohols, and benzene concentrations “well above Safe Drinking Water Act standards” as well as high levels of methane.
On Monday Encana hit back with a scathing attack on the EPA, pointing to perceived flaws with the body’s drilling methodology and a lack of a qualified opinion.
“Of most concern, many of the EPA’s findings from its recent deep monitoring wells, including those related to any potential connection between hydraulic fracturing and Pavillion groundwater quality, are conjecture, not factual and only serve to trigger undue alarm,” the statement read.
“Encana is especially disappointed that the EPA released its draft report, outlining preliminary findings, before subjecting it to qualified, third-party, scientific verification,” labeling this a “precipitous action”...
(12 December 2011)
Ex-oil worker blasts shale gas industry
Maxime Daigle worked on oil and gas rigs for seven years before quitting to devote his life to protesting what he believes are the perils of shale gas drilling.
Daigle spent his career in the oil and gas sector working in operations located in Alberta, British Columbia and across the United States.
He started as a roughneck and worked his way up to drilling foreman.
But he soon concluded the world's dependency on oil was killing the planet and he left the industry.
“We all have our hands dirty on it. It's just an awakening I went through that made me realize what I was doing was wrong and that I needed to try and make a difference,” he said.
The former oil and gas worker said he saw the negative impact that drilling was having on the environment as he moved higher up the corporate ladder.
“I've seen enough that I know a fair amount of what can and can't be done right with regulations,” he said.
Daigle also tells a story about a time when a crew he was working with hit an abnormally large gas pocket that nearly blew up the well.
He said the crew pumped thousands of barrels of toxic drilling fluid down the well in an effort to contain it. However, that fluid found its way back to the surface through an unforeseen fracture.
“After four or five days of doing this, these farmers came on location. And they asked what was that black stuff that was coming into the river,” Daigle said...
(2 December 2011)
No U.S.-style shale gas boom in EU: E&Y
Yadullah Hussain, National Post
While shale gas has taken off in the United States, don’t expect the industry to take off in a similar manner in the Europe, says Ernst & Young.
The consultancy firm expects the industry’s progress to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary across the Atlantic.
“While exploration is underway in several countries such as Austria, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Sweden and the UK, no shale gas play has yet been brought into production in Europe, and only a fraction of this resource base is likely to ever prove commercial and be produced,” says John Avaldsnes, Ernst & Young’s EMEIA Oil & Gas Sector Leader. “In addition, over half of all estimated European shale gas reserves, which accounts for almost 10% of the global total, are concentrated in just two countries, Poland and France.
“There are some difficult challenges that the industry needs to address. There appears to be no consensus across Europe on shale gas development and government attitudes vary, in some cases markedly. Public opinion on the issue is similarly divided, adding to pressure on governments to take action to either support or restrict shale gas development with most countries adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude.”
The E&Y report highlights key factors influencing the shale gas industry in Europe...
(6 December 2011)
Petrochina says new shale gas find tough to develop
Tom Bergin, Reuters
PetroChina said a new shale gas find in Sichuan province would be difficult to convert to commercial production because Chinese geological conditions were more difficult than in the United States where the industry developed.
"We have made a discovery already. The problem is how to make the production stable, how to increase the production, this needs technology," Zhou Jiping vice-Chairman & President, PetroChina told a press conference at the sidelines of the World Petroleum Congress in Doha.
Yet he said he was 'confident' that, in time, commercial shale gas production would commence.
On Tuesday, Reuters revealed Royal Dutch Shell Plc, which is a partner of PetroChina on shale gas exploration in a Sichuan block, had found shale gas there.
(8 December 2011)