Our grandpa’s traditional vertical wells used only 2,000 psi, were not water and chemically intensive, and did not use detonation guns to fracture unconventional shale gas sources at 8-10,000 psi in the air shed of urban, highly populated areas.
New drilling techniques bring new problems. The hydrofracturing process has an enormous amount of liquids to be trucked out to disposal injection sites which is said to cause earthquakes.
The Tyvee (Vancouver) January 7, 2013
Nikiforuk writes, “A small U.S. oil firm did indeed perform the first commercial frack job in 1947 in Kansas on a conventional gas well using 1,000 gallons of napalm as well as sand from the Arkansas River.
So the practice of pumping small volumes (1,000 to 10,000 gallons) of toxic fluid into vertical wells (2,400 feet) using about 600 horsepower of pressure is indeed 60 years old.
But that’s not what is happening in Pennsylvania, Texas or northern British Columbia today. Now industry injects millions of gallons of water into wellbores two miles deep that then angle or deviate horizontally another kilometre underground. They then break up the rock with up to 40,000 units of horsepower onsite and at pressures so extreme that the practice triggers small earthquakes.
Technique younger than claimed
Moreover the technology for fracking horizontal or deviated shallow gas or tight oil “is not 60 years old,” notes world expert Ingraffea.
Only in the last two decades have four different technologies made it possible to fracture deep shale rock formations one to two kilometres underground. They include directional drilling (wells that go down a kilometre and then extend horizontally for another kilometre): the use of millions of litres of fracturing fluids including sand, water and toxic chemicals; slick water (the use of gels and high fluid volumes at 100 barrels a minute) and multi-well pad and cluster drilling (the drilling of six to nine wells from one industrial platform).
“All four of these technologies had to come together to allow shale gas fracturing,” says Ingraffea.
The first horizontal shale gas well was drilled in 1991; the first slick water fracture took place in 1996; and the use of cluster drilling from one pad didn’t happen until 2007.
Until a decade ago it just wasn’t possible to open fractures in walls of shale rock 20 metres thick a kilometre under the ground with 20 million litres of fracking fluid pumped by 20,000 worth of horsepower to drain trapped methane in an area as large two kilometres by one kilometre.
Expertise is also limited. Of 75 oil and gas firms that recently invaded Pennsylvania to develop the Marcellus shale play, only a half dozen had any experience combining all four technologies.”
So the industry claim that hydraulic fracturing is a proven 60-year-old technology is just that: a provocative myth containing a pebble of truth.”
I have recently learned from Arlington’s Gas Well Coordinator, Collin Gregory, that a Green Completion takes place at the “end” of the flow back process (not at the beginning). A Green Completion is when the gas is pipeline quality, and then the well is hooked up to the pipeline so as to not expose effluents to the environment.
Chad Small of DFW Midstream told me that they regularly pig (clean) out the pipelines and they would know who is sending dirty gas through.
Arlington City Planner, Jim Parajon, told me Green Completions (using the existing pipeline to finish the well) were industry standard and so was not required in our gas drilling ordinance.
The first time I was able to record flow back liquids venting in open tanks was on Christmas Eve at California St and Cooper St.
(See the video on https://barnettshalehell.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/flowback-operation-x-mas-eve-2011-cooper-st-near-california-at-the-quick-trip/)
Recently I saw the same venting on Channel 33 news. (http://www.the33tv.com/news/kdaf-colleyville-residents-ready-for-natural-gas-fracking-story,0,2307831.story) The news segment led us to think that if you have a pipeline already at a drill site, that a Green Completion can take place so that venting and flaring (burning off and testing the well) does not occur in our air-shed. In that video, they showed the Arlington Fulson site, located at Sublett and 360, venting flow-back emissions from open tanks. I know that a pipeline is there because after a storm last April, the power went out and pressure from the Compressor Station backed up into the Fulson site (and a Dalworthington Gardens XTO site) releasing gasses into the neighborhoods.
The Texas Comission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ)says that flow-back liquids are “under pressure”. Some say that the white stuff is possibly radioactive sand flying around. This video shows the fracking fallout dust that is on the ground after fracturing the well. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKFd-eIBwyI&context=C3774db1ADOEgsToPDskIHNh3eqowF-m0WmJ5Xyc7H) Proppants may contain silica dust which is a health hazard and can permanently damage the lungs and is responsible for worker’s skin disorders.
Per our Arlington City ordinance Section 5.01 E, these two examples constitute a violation of ordinance 2)“…at no time shall the well be allowed to flow or vent directly to the atmosphere without first directing the flow through separation equipment or into a portable tank.” But there is no clear language that the “portable tank” has to be covered and is in compliance to our ordinance. Council needs to change the language to read “closed tanks” and shut down the drillers so they do not send trespass emissions into the neighborhoods.
At the state level, our drillers violate Texas Administrative Code, Title 30, Part 1, Chapter 101, Subchapter A, Rule 101.4, Environmental Quality, Nuisance. But when put to the test, TCEQ did not find a nuisance violation for a resident near the UT Arlington gas wells who had a doctor confirming the presence of BTEX in her blood. (http://www.earthworksaction.org/voices/detail/sandra_denbraber)
As a Home Rule City, we have a valid case against our leaders NOT protecting the public by allowing the trespass of airborne chemicals into neighborhoods.
This video demonstrates the flow back process from the perspective of a south Texas flowback operation. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ieoMRzg3J4)
I’m thankful that channel 33 is standing up and covering the stories of cancer clusters. (http://www.the33tv.com/news/kdaf-calls-to-invesigate-cancer-cases-in-barnet-shale-story,0,5969894.story)
I’m also grateful that the New York Chapter of the American Lung Association has expressed concerns for public safety related to air pollution from fracking. (http://www.lungusa.org/associations/states/new-york/pressroom/news-releases/2010-2011/lung-association-expresses-concern-fracking-1-11-12.html)
Lastly, I’m pleased to learn that the Center for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency have helped to finance a convention where doctors asked for a fracking moratorium. (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-01-10/fracking-moratorium-urged-as-doctors-call-for-health-study.html)
So you’ve read all of this and ask…“but Kim what can I do?” ……….Please get involved by asking (emailing) our city council to table all gas drilling agenda items until the EPA and NIOSH finish and publish their study results. The January 24th (2012- UR 2 fracking late folks!) Arlington City Council will hold a public hearing and will have two drilling related agenda items. Sign in by 6:15 pm at 101 W Abram.
Drilling permits should not be rushed because it forces drillers to drill now, when the price of natural gas is at a ten year low and would result in smaller royalty checks. The gas isn’t going anywhere, so time is on our side to make the right moves to Best Available Emission Control Technologies. Remember how the cigarette industry was allowed for decades to deny public harm? Let us not be fooled into thinking these wells have been safe for the public for the last 60 years when they are NOT the wells our grandpas drilled.