fracking

Fossil Fuel Companies Roll out a New Era of Spin

Read time: 4 mins
ExxonMobil Baton Rouge oil refinery

By , Grist. This story originally appeared in Grist. It is republished here as part of DeSmog's partnership with Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Forget “climate change” and “global warming”: Environmental advocates are increasingly using phrases that emphasize the urgency of our planetary pickle, such as “climate crisis,” “climate emergency,” and “existential threat.”

But do-gooders aren’t the only ones with savvy messaging techniques. Over the years, fossil fuel companies have poured millions into sowing doubt about climate science and burnishing their public image. Now, fossil fuel companies are reckoning with a different communications challenge: convincing their investors that the future of oil and gas companies is bright … or at least bright enough.

Fracking and Shale Drilling Caused Spike in Climate-Warming Methane Pollution, Says New Study

Read time: 8 mins
Flaring in Permian Basin Shale with sunflowers

Climate-changing pollution reached unprecedented levels in 2018. That's both judged against the last 60 years of modern measurements and against 800,000 years of data culled from ice cores, according to the U.S. government’s State of the Climate report, which was published this week with the American Meteorological Society.

That pollution creates a greenhouse effect that is over 42 percent stronger than it was in 1990, the report added.

And while carbon dioxide hit a new level last year, it isn't the only climate-changing gas that’s on the rise globally. Pollution of the powerful but short-lived greenhouse gas methane also climbed in 2018, showing an increase “higher than the average growth rate over the past decade,” the report adds.

A new Cornell University study published today in the scientific journal Biogeosciences helps to explain what sparked the surge in those methane concentrations, both here in the U.S. and around the world.

One big culprit: shale drilling and fracking.

Bleak Financial Outlook for US Fracking Industry

Read time: 5 mins
Drilling rig at twilight

In early 2018 when major financial publications like the Wall Street Journal were predicting a bright and profitable future for the fracking industry, DeSmog began a series detailing the failing business model of fracking shale deposits for oil and gas in America.

Over a year later, the fracking industry is having to reckon with many of the issues DeSmog highlighted, in addition to one new issue — investors are finally giving up on the industry.

Report: ‘No Evidence That Fracking Can Operate Without Threatening Public Health’

Read time: 7 mins
Bakken drilling rig next to homes in North Dakota

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

More than 1,500 scientific studies on the health and climate impacts of fracking prove its dangerous effect on communities, wildlife and nature.

Fracking's Dirty Water Problem Is Getting Much Bigger

Read time: 8 mins
Fracking and agriculture compete for land and water near Denver City, Texas. 

While fracking for oil and gas in the U.S. has contributed to record levels of fossil fuel production, a critical part of that story also involves water. An ongoing battle for this precious resource has emerged in dry areas of the U.S. where much of the oil and gas production is occurring. In addition, once the oil and gas industry is finished with the water involved in pumping out fossil fuels, disposing of or treating that toxic wastewater, known as produced water, becomes yet another problem.

These water woes represent a daunting challenge for the U.S. fracking industry, which has been a financial disaster, something even a former shale gas CEO has admitted. And its financial prospects aren't looking any rosier: The industry is facing another round of bankruptcies as producers are overwhelmed by debt they are unable to repay.

As Risky Finances Alienate Investors, Fracking Companies Look to Retirement Funds for Cash

Read time: 9 mins
Older adults on a beach bench

A year ago, Chesapeake Energy, at one time the nation’s largest natural gas producer, announced it was selling off its Ohio Utica shale drilling rights in a $2 billion deal with a little-known private company based in Houston, Texas, Encino Acquisition Partners.

For Chesapeake, the deal offered a way to pay off some of its debts, incurred as its former CEO, “Shale King” Aubrey McClendon, led Chesapeake on a disastrous shale drilling spree. Shares of Chesapeake Energy, which in the early days of the fracking boom traded in the $20 to $30 a share range, are now valued at a little more than $1.50.

Encino has marketed itself as a stable source of long-term returns (something the industry overall has struggled so far to create), attracting the managers of one of the world's largest pension funds to drill and frack the land that Chesapeake sold off to repay its enormous debts from fracking nationwide.

America’s Big Bet on Selling Fracked Gas to China and the World

Read time: 8 mins
LNG carrier ship

Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is getting a lot of attention these days, with U.S. producers making major investments in the infrastructure to produce and export LNG to China and the rest of the world for the next several decades.

That's despite LNG looking like a big bet that may not ever pay off. 

Williams Pipeline Support Highlights Environmental Defense Fund’s Long, Cozy Relationship With Fracking Pseudoscience

Read time: 11 mins
The Narrows

By . Originally posted on Eyes on the Ties, the online news site of Public Accountability Initiative and LittleSis.

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), an environmental group with close ties to the corporate community, has taken a friendly approach to the explosion of the natural gas industry in the United States. In the early years of the fracking boom, EDF touted natural gas as a “bridge fuel” toward renewable energy. The organization helped to promote industry-funded misinformation by signing off on sham studies — for example from the University of Texas and the State University of New York at Buffalo — that claimed fracking was safe, but were fatally marred by basic errors in arithmetic and undisclosed conflicts of interest.

CEO of Major Shale Oil Company 'Has Second Thoughts' on Fracking Rush, Wall Street Journal Reports

Read time: 6 mins
Permian Basin

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal featured a profile of Scott Sheffield, CEO of Pioneer Natural Resources, whose company is known among investors for its emphasis on drawing oil and gas from the Permian basin in Texas using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Back in 2014, Sheffield told Forbes that he expected Pioneer could produce a million barrels of oil a day from the Permian basin by 2024 — up from 45,000 barrels a day in 2011.

Now, Sheffield, who left the helm of Pioneer in 2016 and returned this February, says that those million-barrel-a-day plans are looking increasingly doubtful as the industry has struggled to prove to investors that it’s capable not only of producing enormous volumes of oil and gas, but that it can do so while booking profits rather than losses.

We lost the growth investors,” Pioneer CEO Scott Sheffield told the Journal. “Now we’ve got to attract a whole other set of investors.”

Former Shale Gas CEO Says Fracking Revolution Has Been 'A Disaster' For Drillers, Investors

Read time: 10 mins

Steve Schlotterbeck, who led drilling company EQT as it expanded to become the nation’s largest producer of natural gas in 2017, arrived at a petrochemical industry conference in Pittsburgh Friday morning with a blunt message about shale gas drilling and fracking.

The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions,” Schlotterbeck, who left the helm of EQT last year, continued. “In fact, I'm not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change.”

While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “The industry is self-destructive.”

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