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

Thu, 2012-01-12 13:26Carol Linnitt
Carol Linnitt's picture

‘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

Comments

Yea kina like bad news for me if this catches on in the Fayetteville shale. I will probably have to go back to the drilling side. This would eliminate my LOB. I do find it amazing what you people will condemn. I just wish you would get this shut down because I really don’t want to go back on the drilling side. Another two years and the farm will be paid off and I will come join your protests.

So let’s see what you are condemning here.

  1. This eliminates the need for a workover rig to come in and prep the hole for fracking. Thus theses diesel engines will not be used and eliminate these very heavy loads on the highway. (remember the statements about all the diesel engines and CO2)
  2. This eliminates the need for logs and these diesel engines.
  3. This eliminates mud pumps setting plugs and these diesel engines.
  4. This reduces water usage by millions of gallons as well as associated trucks and pumps. Again diesel engines.
  5. Reduces the size of well pads. Dozers, excavators, dump trucks, graders, compactors, and quarry equipment. As well as the associated CO2. Less invasive to forests.
  6. Reduces the size of reserve pits, same as above. 
  7. This cuts fracture time down to a fraction of the current methods. Greatly reduces the time diesel engines are working.
  8. This eliminates the evil drill out process. Fugitive methane, diesel engines on the coil-tubing units.
  9. Eliminates the workover rig coming back in to hang off the production tubing and flange up the well. Diesel engines and real heavy loads on the highway
  10. Reduces the stimulation to a fraction of the time. Greatly reduced fugitive methane.
  11. Plays right into the hand of Zero Discharge drilling. (NO pits)
  12. Greatly reduces flowback water. Fewer trucks on the highway (diesel engines), less water to disposal wells, less equipment /pumps use at the disposal wells, less chance of induced earthquakes.

So what does this actually do? Fracking can be done more accurately, more precisely controlled, more predictable, less chance of surface contamination, and a fraction of the CO2 emissions. Well one of the biggest problems with this industry is they don’t employ people to come up with socially correct names for what they do. Just like “unconventional drilling”. The main thing that made it unconventional was the electronic technology that allowed them to know exactly where the bit is and steer it while drilling. Maybe if named different you could be protesting, “highly accurate drilling”. One of the biggest issues in Fracking the Future was all the diesel engines being used.  Now companies have come up with ways to do in 4-5 days what used to be a three-week plus process, and cut the diesel engine and water use to a fraction and you condemn them for it? For your wisdom and clarity in thinking, Carol, I give you 2 thumbs up!

Carol’s conclusion was rather mild.

Mild? one of them things that just make you wonder?

“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.”

Horizontal drilling of unconventional wells started in 1996 and has been used in wells around the world. Ok you have had 17 years and more than 425,000 wells to study this. How long do you need to study this?

Poisoned water wells just now turning up.

Earthquakes just now turning up.

Not long enough it seems.

Who has been studying this for 17 years independently in peer reviewed journals?

I never said that anybody studied it for 17 years. I said that they have HAD 17 years to study it. This exact type of extraction has been used for more than 17 years. Directional drilling and horizontal drilling had been used for even more years but what made the difference, with modern electronics, was the ability to steer the wellbore accurately while drilling. So basically this has been going on without a problem for 15 years prior to the anti-fracking movement. 15 years of no problems then the last two years the US shows it may be able to stand on its own (as for energy) and there is suddenly a huge problem.  Kinda makes you want to know where the anti fracking funding is coming from. First of all we should segregate on just what the problems are and cure the problems.

Any takers on solving the problems? Or do we just want to stir hate and discontent?

“Any takers on solving the problems? Or do we just want to stir hate and discontent?”

First… this isn’t the forum for solving problems, its a forum for disseminating information.  If you wish to disseminate solutions, go ahead.

Second… Not sure where you get hate and discontent from. (Erroneous conclusions?  Possibly.)

The reason fracking is becoming a problem is that folks subjected to the negative side of the industry are angry.  I know that in Alberta the industry treats these people quite badly.

Now take a look at what’s at stake.  These are farmers in rural areas.  This is their water.  They are angry and worried that it might get polluted.  The industry is not forward with their data, and pushy with concerned citizens.  I think the citizens want to know how rare the incidents of failure are (not vary), and how they will be handled when their is a problem (badly).

For these farmers this is a very personal issue.  Its their water that they drink.  Its their homes, and its their businesses that are damaged or even destroyed by this.

http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2011/04/28/FrackingSuit/

So troy what is the chance of fracking wells blowing out other wells?  The number isn’t zero, and I think that farmer’s have a right to know.

Well in the first place my original comment was just the shock of something that will greatly reduce emissions and it is turned completely around that it would be worse. By the way 2008 this was tried on a several wells in Arkansas. It was very problematic and would be a tough sell to get them to try it again. However if they can solve the problems it will be a great environmental benefit.

 

Then we got off on something else. So let’s say we should strive to get all the farmers up in arms. This actually is a benefit to the mineral company. Let me explain. When someone sells their mineral rights then they also sell the right for the mineral company to come get them. I have been drilled on twice on two separate occasions 15-20 years ago. I owned no mineral rights. Both times I had no problems with them. Once was even a big benefit because I had built a house 600 feet off the county road and did not know a thing about what was involved in building a good road. When the landman came knocking he had drawings in hand to build a lease road right through the middle of my field. We walked outside and within about 20 minutes we agreed to building an all-weather road all the way to my house and then turning out to the well with cattle guards installed at the county road and at my house. $4,500 for property damages and $100 a day for pumping water from my pond. The big benefit was that they plugged and abandoned that well. Now there is a barn and a gravel lot to park implements. They would have taken it out and re-sod but I told them to leave it.

 

We could educate farmers to meet the land man at the door with a shotgun and run then off. This actually benefits the energy company because now they will follow the letter of the law. They get one of their many junior lawyers to type up the order, serve notice, present to the judge that they lawfully purchased the minerals, 5 minutes later the judge will sign the order that states all rules will be followed (That is the shortest distance to the well even it is building a road right through the middle of your prime pasture) and if you show up with that shotgun a deputy will remove you from your property and you will be taken to jail. That is the law! Meet them at the door and take them for a walk around the farm and they will try every way to reduce the impact to your farm. Watching the video in a prior post I would say this farmer did not even try to discuss any options.

 

To put it in a nutshell until the US/state governments pass law that you can sell your mineral rights but still keep them, And that all the mineral rights that have been sold will be returned to the surface owner at no cost, there is a problem. DON’T SELL THEM!!!! I do think that in light of this big misunderstanding that a law should be passed mandating that surface owners can buy back their mineral rights at market value.

 

OHIO! Are you listening DON’T SELL THEM!!! Because if you sell them then they have the right to come get them!

 

Meet them at the door with a shotgun and that dozer WILL make a strait line through your property. Do we educate farmers to take up arms or learn the laws?

You said, “Ok you have had 17 years and more than 425,000 wells to study this. How long do you need to study this?”

Implying that the length of time fracking has been practiced, and the number of wells where it has been used makes studying its effects seem redundant or superfluous in some way.

You also state “15 years of no problems”. How do you know there has been no problems? And why must we assume that any problems would reveal themselves instantly?

Has there ever been a case that actually linked fracking to water well contamination? I have never heard of one. Yet in the last two years we have people making statements to that effect. Mostly a bunch of lies.

Recent EPA Study:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=fracking-linked-water-contamination-federal-agency

If you read the article, it also mentions compalints by residents about well water as far back as 1994. This would also seem to cast doubt on your contention that there have been no problems in 17 years.

There was also another study done for a different location about 6 months ago that was mentioned on Desmog, but can’t find the link right now.

Well first of all the headlines are important. They stick in a persons mind while they read the article. Scientific American headlines read “EPA: Natural Gas Fracking Linked to Water Contamination” The actual EPA draft says no such thing. It mentions fracking but does not headline this as the cause. This is how information gets turned around. Study the report and it becomes clear that the fracking was not the root cause of the problem but a number of problems. As for the EPA I think they did a good job of research and were diligent in being accurate. However the type of wells involved in the report could be considered as primitive as compared to wells drilled today. These wells were not the “unconventional” wells as has been the main topic of today’s wells but horizontal wells fracked by old methods including the use of diesel type fluids. “Outlawed today” In fact nearly all of these wells starting back in the 1950’s were drilled before “unconventional” wells were even heard of. 

The wells involved were not fracked thousands of feet deep but rater a few hundred feet and near the same strata as the water wells. Part of the data that I feel should have been paramount that was not included in the report was the individual well data including the water wells and dates completed. Did the oil and gas companies drill into the water wells? Or did the water wells drill into the oil and gas wells? Not to blame anyone from years past but data on all wells needs to be available. (Just a little side bar here but New York did not think water well data was that important. So now they are digging through decades of water well data that was never entered but just thrown in a pile. No wander they readily agreed to a moratorium. Kinda funny)

Note the part about the casing bond log. This part I consider the most important part of the whole article. It showed obvious and major defects in the casing bond logs. Basically the surface casing was not set properly. Setting and cementing all casings properly is the most important part of protecting drinking water.

I figured when I ask this that someone would instantly deal out Dimock, PA as fracking contamination. Read up on this and in their own words they exonerate fracking as the cause. Some of them stated that within a few days of when they started drilling their water turned murky. Well let’s look at this for a minute. Every land based oil and gas drilling starts the same way whether conventional or unconventional drilling is being done. From the time the rig spuds “starts drilling the hole” to the time the fracking begins is a mater of weeks sometimes months. So how could fracking cause this if it has not even been done yet? Many more operations must be completed before the frack crew even starts to work. On a typical oil or gas well what are they doing between days 2-4? Setting the surface casing! Bingo!

Now read the report on the blowout in the gulf. I think you will find in there somewhere that they decided not to do a bond log on the casing. Bingo

Surface casing problems in Wyoming! Bingo (not to mention water wells at the same depth)

In my opinion it would be very important to require ALL casing jobs to be logged and the report sent to the state within 24 hours. Any deficiencies found would be grounds to stop that drilling in its tracks until the casing is corrected!

Study the problems. Then push to correct the problems.

By the way I do not work for a casing, cementing, or logging company.

troydonscott said:

“However the type of wells involved in the report could be considered as primitive as compared to wells drilled today”

Quite the strawman there troydonscott. These are not histories of wells drilled years ago but are well being drilled today. You claiming that they are primitive is a red herring.

Please do not confuse the issue of problem wells with your proselytising.

Ian… the EPA report says a lot, but there is a lot of confusion.

First the oil wells involved, are ‘conventional’, and not the ‘unconventional’ kind being talked about here;

http://www.desmogblog.com/fracking-the-future/

The wells that the EPA drilled were not the water wells that were claimed to be contaminated.

Last I heard the EPA haven’t consistently been able to find contamination in the water wells.  (That’s why they drilled the other wells.)

I’m not trying to defend Troy.. I’m just saying that I think the EPA report appears poor to me.

I would never expect you to defend me. But thanks.

More reseach? Yes lots more but in differant areas!

Troy, as much as I want to get into details. (OK I don’t really.)  What I really want to do is see industry or government stats on pollution and fracking failure.

Industry knows for a fact that the numbers aren’t zero. (Recent case in point, nearby oil well is gushing fracking fluid… this is rare but it happens.  Tongue in cheek… what is the industry technique for cleaning oil sprayed all over trees.)

When they do screw up, they step all over the farmers.

I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that.

Ingraffia has been saying that there are issues with these wells for years.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/story/2011/11/28/nb-f-shale-gas-anthony-ingraffea-122.html

Fluid migration is not rare. For example, industry researchers Watson and Bachu, in a Society of Petroleum Engineers paper in 2009, examined 352,000 Canadian wells and found sustained casing pressure and gas migration.

They found that about 12 per cent of newer wells leaked, considerably more than older wells. Yes, the industry’s own researchers found that a substantial percentage of wells leak initially, an even higher percentage of wells leak eventually, and now more wells are leaking than in the past; the process is getting worse, not better.

Most recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found benzene, methane and chemicals in water-monitoring wells in Pavilion, Wyoming, and EPA chief Lisa Jackson admitted “It is possible that fracking in one bearing zone may have impacted nearby areas that may contain some groundwater.”

Fracking blows out a near by well.  Cool huh?

http://www.calgaryherald.com/business/Hydraulic+fracturing+have+caused+well+blowout+near+Innisfail/6003589/story.html

“Fluid collected at the site included fracturing oil, nitrogen and sand, Tobin said.”

Troydonscott, when you report industry positive material, you don’t need to be so abnoxious to the authors.  You look absolutely stupid when you do that.  (This is probably why the nitwits that used to be here have suddenly disappeared.)

The fact that you say useful and reasonably factual information is valuable and people are reading it.

I also feel that as our lone(?) voice on the right, that we all should strive to play a lot nicer.




 

Sorry if someone takes offence that I stand to correct something that is wrong. Call me a nitwit or whatever you want to. Myself if I post a response to an article I can back it with factual information. Thousands of people read such information as this and consider information like this to be an authority on the matter. The bad part of this is it will work against the cause when people try to use such information when presenting to the experts and authorities. When I get into the negative vote I consider the source. I guess if you were to kick me off this blog then I would consider that the Grand Poobah of down votes. If this blog is to disseminate information then it should be correct information shouldn’t it?  Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.

There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.

I can agree with this. Maybe we should all stick to it.

As for Alberta I cannot comment for them. If I understand correctly the government owns all mineral rights. That is a totally different ballgame there. Here in the USA the landowners own their minerals until they sell them. Upon selling ones minerals this grants the purchaser the right to come and get them. In doing so the law provides that they can use the surface as needed to extract the minerals they purchased. So now we have a lot of cases that land/mineral owners sell their minerals pocket the money and then join the ranks of protesters to prevent the purchaser from coming and getting them. Sorry but that is just wrong.

As for the blowout in the producing well correct the problem. As for contaminated water wells correct the problem. As for GHG emissions correct the problems. For all other associated problems correct the problems. Calling for a worldwide moratorium of all fossil fuel production would correct the problem but do the people understand how this would correct it? I can tell you. In about 4-5 weeks global starvation would set in. Our nearly 7 billion would drop to 1 or 2 within a few months. CO2 emissions would spike out from the decay of bodies but then the CO2 counter in the sidebar could start going in reverse. I won’t say I would survive this. I have the capability of producing my own food water and heat. But it would be tough to fend off the mobs that don’t. They have had many years to study the problems. If they cannot complete their research, correct the problems, and bring the industry back on line within a week or two then?

Saying this another way… You aren’t arguing with us or desmogblog, you are presenting information to the next joe public who reads this web site.  (This is how I view my activities here.)  If you rant, they may tune you out for being an oil shill.

As much as you want Desmogblog to report all the facts you want, they can’t or won’t.  But you can easily tack on your useful facts.  Look at why Desmogblog is here; to counter the huge quantity of misinformation out there, then someone can use them as one more source of info among many.

A ‘farmer’ coming across this article can see… “Hey… is this super frack bad or good?  Hmm… Still might polute my well, but they have smaller pads. That seems OK..”  Of course the industry’s previous talking points were ‘fewer well site pads’, and generally overlooking the fact that some of those pads were up to 50 acres.  Perhaps thats why smaller is a good thing.  Hmmm?


Lastly, you are catastrophising weening ourselves off fossil fuels.  My house is run on wind power.  I’m not starving, and I’m not dead, and its -30C here.  No one has said we have to turn off the oil tap.  Certainly not immediately.  Certainly no one has asked for a moratorium.  No one has asked me to stop driving a car.  Kyoto never asked for it.

The vast vast vast majority are calling for a hefty job creating, wealth redistributing carbon tax.

This is something I support whole heartedly.

But make no mistake, the target of GHG emissions is zero.

http://www.ted.com/talks/bill_gates.html

And this is why;

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_on_global_population_growth.html

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