Archive for Fracking
www.nytimes.com 18th December 2012
Quoted from source:
‘An industry group representing oil and gas companies has sued a city in Colorado that outlawed hydraulic fracturing, saying voters had no right to ban the drilling practice. The lawsuit, filed on Monday by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, seeks to overturn the ban on the contentious practice that passed by a wide margin last month in the northern Colorado city of Longmont. The measure, the first of its kind in the state, still allows oil and gas drilling within city limits, but it prohibits hydraulic fracturing, which has lifted energy production across the country but has raised concerns about air and water contamination. The oil and gas association said the ban amounted to a prohibition on all efforts to tap the estimated $500 million in oil and gas resources locked in the rocks deep beneath Longmont. “The ban is illegal, and we expect it to be overturned by the courts,” said Tisha Schuller, the president of the group. City officials had been bracing for a lawsuit challenging Longmont’s right to make rules for an industry regulated largely by the state and federal authorities. Colorado officials opposed the city’s ban but have declined to sue to overturn it. Sam Schabacker, one of the ban’s leading advocates, called the lawsuit an attempt to “undermine a democratic vote in order to put a dangerous industrial activity next to homes, schools and public parks.”
www.bbc.co.uk 17th April 2012
A government appointed panel has stated that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is more commonly known, should resume in the UK. The technique, used to extract gas trapped in underground rock, was put on hold following two earthquakes felt in the area of Blackpool due to fracking operations by a company called Cuadrilla. The panel was put together by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and their report on the process now goes out for a six-week consultation period before the DECC makes any final decisions. Although similar to a report put together by Cuadrilla that admits the company was responsible for the Blackpool earthquakes, the DECC appointed panel’s report claims other earthquakes could well happen, something Cuadrilla denies. However, these earthquakes are not likely to be larger than 3 on the Richter Scale (the previous two were 2.3 and 1.5 in April and May last year respectively). A decision to re-allow fracking in the country has angered environmentalists and conservationists who believe the coalition government (David Cameron’s self-described ‘greenest government ever’) should be doing more to reduce the UK’s reliance on fossil fuels. Fracking uses a combination of water and industrial chemicals that are sprayed at high-power into underground rock formations to loosen gas reserves trapped within them. In the US, there have been reports of contamination of the local water supply as a result, which in worst case scenarios causes tap water to become flammable.
www.nytimes.com 10th April 2011
The global recession has had many an unintended consequence in our society. One way European governments are tightening their belts is by reducing subsidies on new technologies such as renewable energy, thereby making it more expensive for citizens to use. Coupled with the current negative attitude towards nuclear power following the awful Japanese tsunami of March last year, there is suddenly a gap in the energy market. And it seems we are falling back on fossil fuels as a result. Countries all over sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing billions of dollars of investment as energy giants look for the next lucrative oil or gas field to exploit. Mozambique, for example, has seen interest from the American company Exxon-Mobil, the British BG Group, and the Italian Eni. Potentially, the eastern African country has more gas reserves than the largest producer in Europe: Norway. Much of these resources will be diverted towards the energy hungry East, where China’s demand is forever increasing. The scramble for new resources good have benefits on a national scale. Energy companies are diversifying their sources for fossil fuels, and the introduction of the contentious ‘fracking’ of shale gas could allow countries like Poland escape their reliance on Russia for gas. However, environmentally, this renewed boom of fossil fuel exploration can only have a detrimental effect.
Pennsylvania has passed a controversial new law that allows gas companies to carry out hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as fracking, as close as 90m (300ft) to residential housing. The bill renders previous zoning laws obsolete in a move that the state governor says will ‘level the playing field for gas exploration.’ Fracking is a controversial method of removing gas from underground rock by blasting them with water, sand and chemicals at high pressure. The practice has come under scrutiny following reports that it has contaminated drinking water supplies in the USA. Recently, Bulgaria has become the second state, after France, to ban fracking completely. The link below takes you to a video by the Guardian that documents the township of Dallas in Pennsylvania and their battle with the gas companies.
www.telegraph.co.uk 2nd November 2011
The main company exploring for shale gas in the UK have admitted that small earthquakes that hit the Lancashire coast in April and May were caused by hydraulic fracturing, the process whereby water, sand and chemicals are blasted at high pressure underground to release trapped gas from rocks. The company, Cuadrilla Resources, insist the tremors were not dangerous and that ‘fracking’, as hydraulic fracturing is more commonly know, is a safe process. However, there is growing concern that this may not be true, particularly in light of stories from across the pond of fracking causing flammable tap water and people becoming ill from contaminated water. Protests are on the rise in the UK where one drilling operation in Lancashire has already been brought to a standstill and a meeting of industry investors was stormed. James Barnes, a member of Frack Off (the group responsible), said, “We hear a lot about energy shortages, and we really need to be investing in researching sustainable energy sources, rather than finding tiny pockets of non-renewable gas and destroying our planet in order to get to them.” Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, also warned against mass use of shale gas by saying not enough was known about it to “bet the farm on it”. Charities, including Friends of the Earth and WWF, are attempting to implement a moratorium on fracking until more evidence on its safety can be collected.
www.nytimes.com 3rd August 2011
The oil and gas industry has maintained that fracking, the process of hydraulic fracturing whereby water and toxic chemicals are injected at high pressure into the bedrock to release natural gas reserves, has absolutely no effect on drinking water supplies. The reason behind this certification, industry officials say, is that fracking occurs thousands of feet below drinking water aquifers therefore it is impossible for the chemicals used in the process to enter the water. However, a report published by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1987 describes hydraulic drilling carried out by the Kaiser Exploration and Mining Company contaminated a well belonging to a Mr James Parsons of West Virginia not 600 feet away. Furthermore, the EPA have claimed that there may be more cases out there that will never see the light of day due to sealed settlements made between fracking companies and those affected by the contaminated water. This made it impossible for EPA researchers to investigate cases due to the lawsuits. “I still don’t understand why industry should be allowed to hide problems when public safety is at stake,” said Carla Greathouse, the author of the E.P.A. report that documents a case of drinking water contamination from fracking. “If it’s so safe, let the public review all the cases.” The American Petroleum Institute has denied such claims, instead referring to ‘countless academic, federal and state investigators’ who have ‘conducted extensive research on groundwater contamination issues, and have found that drinking water contamination from fracking is highly improbable.’
www.telegraph.co.uk 6th May 2011
Fracking is the latest craze within the energy industry. Invented in 1821 in New York, fracking involves blasting water, sand, and often toxic chemicals into shale thousands of feet under the earth in order to extract natural gas. The use of the method rocketed in 2005 ‘in the US when the Energy Policy Act exempted fracking wells from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Act.’ Since then reports have been made by local residents about tap-water catching fire when a match is lit nearby. But with 28,000 wells in 16 states in the USA alone by 2009, fracking is big business. BP paid $3 billion for fracking rights in 2008 and the world’s largest mining company BHP Billiton handed over $5 billion for rights in Arkansas. Fracking began in the UK in March. Although some green advocates insist that burning natural gas is a greener option compared to other fossil fuels as it produces less CO2, the US Environment Agency released a report in 2010 that contradicts this. Due to the hugely intrusive way the natural gas is extracted from shale, greater amounts of methane (one of the worst greenhouse gases) is emitted, therefore making fracking one of the most polluting practices in energy production. Furthermore, the process produces harmful chemicals including carcinogens and radioactive elements that leak into local water supplies. Air quality is another issue. Due to the 27,000 fracking wells in Wyoming, the state failed its federal requirements for air quality.
The list goes on. Read more in the original article from the Daily Telegraph here.
e360.yale.edu 1st December 2010
Quoted from source:
‘In a scramble for new sources of natural gas, European energy companies are increasingly turning to hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a drilling technique that has generated controversy in the U.S. because of potential harmful environmental effects. In Poland, Halliburton has constructed a well for the state-owned Polish Oil and Gas Company that analysts say could yield 1.4 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and test wells have been built or are planned in the UK, Sweden, and Denmark. Critics say the drilling process — which involves pumping fluids and sand into the ground at high pressure to break up shale rock and release gas — poses a threat to drinking water supplies. New York officials this week approved a temporary ban on fracking until state regulators can establish safety guidelines, and the Obama administration is considering stricter disclosure requirements from drilling companies.’
Sources: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment 10th September 2010
On Friday, a huge fireball of natural gas tore through a quiet suburb of San Bruno, just south of San Francisco, killing 4 and destroying 50 homes. The cause of the fire was traced to a gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The incident, just one of many fossil fuel disasters the US has experienced of late, has drawn the spotlight onto the meteoric rise of natural gas consumption in the USA. Shale gas extraction has risen by 71% in the past decade and there are no signs of such a rate slowing. A method used in the extraction process is raising concern among environmental groups and local residents as reports of contaminated drinking water flood in. Hydraulic Fracturing, or fracking, is a process whereby a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals (mostly diesel fuel) is used to fracture rock formations to get at the gas beneath. However, between 20-40% of the chemicals are left underground causing potential environmental harm. The issue is documented in the film Gasland but is currently exempt from federal regulation. Congress has previously allowed the companies involved in fracking to keep the concoction of chemicals a ‘trade secret’ but pressure on Environmental Protection Agency means action is on its way.