fracking

This Problem With Fracked Oil and Gas Wells Is Occurring 'at an Alarming Rate'

Read time: 13 mins
XTO well pad blowout in Belmont County, Ohio

On February 15, 2018, a fracked natural gas well owned by ExxonMobil's XTO Energy and located in southeast Ohio experienced a well blowout, causing it to gush the potent greenhouse gas methane for nearly three weeks. The obscure accident ultimately resulted in one of the biggest methane leaks in U.S. history. The New York Times reported in December that new satellite data revealed that this single gas well leaked more methane in 20 days than an entire year's worth of methane released by the oil and gas industries in countries like Norway and France.

The cause of this massive leak was a failure of the gas well's casing, or internal lining. Well casing failures represent yet another significant but not widely discussed technical problem for an unprofitable fracking industry

After a Decade of Fracking, Billions of Dollars Lost and a Climate in Crisis

Read time: 13 mins
Partially destroyed house in New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy

As 2020 begins, the impacts of climate change have become increasingly clear around the world. The new year started amid devastating wildfires, tied to the worst droughts Australia has experienced in hundreds of years, which encircled much of the continent. So far, 29 people have been reported dead. A University of Sydney professor estimated the number of animals killed likely tops one billion.

Today's climate impacts have been shaped heavily by actions taken during the last 10 years, particularly in the U.S., where the climate benefits of coal power plant retirements were undermined by the rise of natural gas. Global carbon emissions had leveled off in the middle of the last decade, but began to climb again in 2017, breaking records anew each year since.

How One Utah Community Fought the Fracking Industry — and Won

Read time: 14 mins
Red Knoll, Kanab, Utah

By Tara Lohan, The Revelator. Originally posted on The Revalator.

Kanab, a small Utah town that’s home to the famous Best Friends Animal Society, took an unconventional path to face down a frac sand mine that threatened the region’s aquifer.

The Fracking Industry's Methane Problem Is a Climate Problem

Read time: 9 mins
methane gas warning sign

While carbon dioxide — deservedly — gets a bad rap when it comes to climate change, about 40 percent of global warming actually can be attributed to the powerful greenhouse gas methane, according to the 2013 IPCC report. This makes addressing methane emissions critical to stopping additional warming, especially in the near future. Methane is shorter-lived in the atmosphere but 85 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20 year period. 

Atmospheric levels of methane stopped increasing around the year 2000 and at the time were expected to decrease in the future. However, they began increasing again in the last 10 years, spurring researchers to explore why. Robert Howarth, a biogeochemist at Cornell University, recently presented his latest research linking the increase in methane to fossil fuel production, with fracking for natural gas, which is mostly methane, likely a major source. 

While Talking up Climate Action, Oil Majors Eye Argentina’s Shale Reserves

Read time: 11 mins
Rig at sunset in Vaca Muerta

Even as international climate negotiators tried to make progress at the UN climate summit in Madrid in early December, fossil fuel production and consumption has continued to rise, and major oil companies have been seeking new horizons to exploit.

The industry is not slowing down, even in the face of the worsening climate crisis. Although many oil companies signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement, they have simultaneously poured $50 billion into projects since 2018 that are not aligned with climate targets. The industry also has plans to invest $1.4 trillion in new oil and gas projects around the world over the next five years, despite the fact that existing projects contain enough greenhouse gases to use up the remaining carbon budget.

In other words, the oil majors are actively betting on, and are heavily invested in, blowing past climate targets and burning as much carbon as possible, despite protestations from company executives that they are good-faith actors.

Energy Analysts Deliver More Bad News for US Fracking Industry's Business Model

Read time: 7 mins
Oil Fields Near Stanton, TX

This month, the energy consulting firm Wood MacKenzie gave an online presentation that basically debunked the whole business model of the shale industry.

In this webinar, which explored the declining production rates of oil wells in the Permian region, research director Ben Shattuck noted how it was impossible to accurately forecast how much oil a shale play held based on estimates from existing wells.

Over the years of us doing this, as analysts, we’ve learned that you really have to do it well by well,” Shattuck explained of analyzing well performance. “You cannot take anything for granted.”

Chesapeake Energy’s Stock Falls Below $1 But Driller Plans to Spend Over $1 Billion on More Fracking

Read time: 7 mins

The company that for the past decade has been emblematic of the rise and pitfalls of shale drilling and fracking, Chesapeake Energy, saw its stock price collapse today, plunging by 29.15 percent in a single day.

At the end of the day on November 6, a share in Chesapeake (NYSE:CHK) was worth less than a buck, priced at $0.91.

Public Health Experts Flunk Report Tying Pennsylvania Air Quality Improvements to Gas Drilling

Read time: 9 mins
A girl kicks a soccer ball on a playground near an oil and gas well pad in Pennsylvania

America’s air seems to have taken a turn for the worse, according to recent scientific research. Last week, a nationwide study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) found that the country’s air quality deteriorated in 2017 and 2018 — a dramatic reversal of improvements recorded over the prior seven years.

Today, the Consumer Energy Alliance (CEA) — an organization funded by oil and gas producers — released their own report that presents a different narrative about energy production and air quality in Pennsylvania, a state that’s become one of the nation’s largest producers of fossil fuels.

CEA's report first points to a drop in some types of air pollution in Pennsylvania between 1990 and 2016 and next to a rise in natural gas production in the state from 2010 to 2018.

But a look at the data presented inside that report — a two-page infographic drawing on data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Energy Information Administration — shows that connecting more drilling to less pollution is deeply misleading, public health experts said.

As Drillers Continue Poor Financial Performance, Shale Insight Hosts Trump Speech Touting Fossil Energy Future

Read time: 8 mins
Trump at Shale Insight

When candidate Donald Trump arrived in Pittsburgh at the Shale Insight conference in 2016, he arrived with a message for the gathered shale executives: I will roll back regulation, especially environmental regulation, and you — your industry — will thrive like you were never able to under Obama.

I'm going to lift the restrictions on American energy,” he promised the crowd, “and allow this wealth to pour into our communities, including right here in the state of Pennsylvania that we love.”

“Oh, you will like me so much,” he added.

Will the Fracking Revolution Peak Before Ever Making Money?

Read time: 7 mins
Fracking sites at night in Colorado

This week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted that the U.S. oil and gas shale industry, already struggling financially, is now facing “core operational issues.” That should be a truly frightening prospect for investors in American fracking operations, but one which DeSmog has long been warning of.

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