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Fracking in the UK

  1. Oct 19, 2016 #1


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    So we have proposed sites in the UK some are close to habitation how can we insure against Fracking
    earth quakes?


    March 29, 2016
    Seismological Society of America
    A survey of a major oil and natural gas-producing region in Western Canada suggests a link between hydraulic fracturing or 'fracking' and induced earthquakes in the region.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2016 #2
    It seems insurance against Frack induced quakes is a tough policy to get, the variables determining the processes involved are extremely complex. After reading the article you cited, the difference between US and Canadian study results could very likely be the result of Government and industry policy as opposed to Geology and oil industry practices.
    One point that would be worth making is quakes are only one problem fracking may cause, groundwater contamination as well as surface venting of methane, see, http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2477/nasa-study-analyzes-four-corners-methane-sources/ https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/groundwater-contamination-may-end-the-gas-fracking-boom/ for example, although there are many cases mentioned in studies.
    There is the fact that pro-oil is incredibly well funded as well as enjoying huge support from governments to be considered, the average citizen in the average country has little chance to influence decisions on that level. As example these sites are going to tell you its a great idea,
    I guess you get the idea, one can hear whatever they prefer by changing the source of the information. I'll leave my personal opinions out of this and end by wishing the UK the best of luck which ever way the question is decided. :smile:
  4. Oct 20, 2016 #3
    With the seismic techniques that are available, fracking ought to be safe. The overwhelming number of problems with fracking are due to failures to do things properly, either at the wells or later, with disposal. Before a horizontal well is even drilled, proximity to existing faults that could rupture need to be considered, along with the existence of fractures in the cap rock and rock units above it. These days that can be determined fairly accurately, if the time and money are spent. Regulation in place are only as good as the adherence to them........(fill in your spin on that). To me, in the end, I'd be too cautious and probably too expensive at today's oil and gas prices, but fracking in and of itself shouldn't be a banned technique.

    The Scientific American article linked previously quotes Robert Jackson. He and other went back later and found this:
    Noble gases identify the mechanisms of fugitive gas contamination in drinking-water

    There are several articles in 2014 and 2015 in http://www.pnas.org/ dealing with fracking in general and in the Marcellus Shale.
  5. Oct 20, 2016 #4
    GSA Critical Issue: Hydraulic Fracturing Table of Contents:
    Hydraulic Fracturing Defined
    Hydraulic Fracturing’s History and Role in Energy Development
    Potential Environmental Issues Associated with Hydraulic Fracturing
    Water Quality
    Water Use I
    nduced Seismicity
    Regulation Issues
    Staying Informed

    There is the science, the technology, then all that other stuff that has little or nothing to do with the first two
  6. Oct 21, 2016 #5
    Howdy Capn', :smile: nice job on the source links, I found a lot of interesting reading, thanks. After going over the info I'm pretty sure I'd rather not have my water well near any oil well development, whether it was fracked or not. Your point about adherence to regulations is "well" made (no pun intended), Having spent more than a few shifts on the floor of drill rigs in the Bakken field, I can personally attest to the fact that regulations can be very flexibly applied depending on the particular company and crew involved, the bottom line is, unless big brother is looking over ones shoulders, the financial bottom line always prevails. I found the studies on Fracking/Groundwater contamination to be particularly interesting as the possibility that the fracking process may have actually been responsible for the casing failure that allowed the contamination to occur. Here are a couple of excerpts I found of interest while reading. Clearly more understanding of the dynamics involved is called for, Also I appreciate that the links you provided were from neutral sites and not pro-oil or anti-oil propaganda. :thumbup:

    From, http://www.pnas.org/content/111/39/14076.full.pdf?sid=9504edb1-9857-4489-8d09-ec42a5f2985c
    Hydrocarbon production from unconventional sources is grow-
    ing rapidly, accompanied by concerns about drinking-water
    contamination and other environmental risks. Using noble gas
    and hydrocarbon tracers, we distinguish natural sources of
    methane from anthropogenic contamination and evaluate the
    mechanisms that cause elevated hydrocarbon concentrations
    in drinking water near natural-gas wells. We document fugitive
    gases in eight clusters of domestic water wells overlying the
    Marcellus and Barnett Shales, including declining water quality
    through time over the Barnett. Gas geochemistry data implicate
    leaks through annulus cement (four cases), production casings
    (three cases), and underground well failure (one case) rather
    than gas migration induced by hydraulic fracturing deep un-
    derground. Determining the mechanisms of contamination will
    improve the safety and economics of shale-gas extraction.

    In general, our data suggest that where fugitive gas contami-
    nation occurs, well integrity problems are most likely associated
    with casing or cementing issues. In contrast, our data do not sug-
    gest that horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing has provided
    a conduit to connect deep Marcellus or Barnett Formations di-
    rectly to surface aquifers. Well integrity has been recognized for
    decades as an important factor in environmental stewardship for
    conventional oil and gas production (34, 35). Future work should
    evaluate whether the large volumes of water and high pressures
    required for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing influence
    well integrity. In our opinion, optimizing well integrity is a critical,
    feasible, and cost-effective way to reduce problems with drinking-
    water contamination and to alleviate public concerns accompa-
    nying shale-gas extraction.

    For more government ambiguity see, https://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabpro...00C00647104/$File/EPA-SAB-16-005+Unsigned.pdf
  7. Oct 21, 2016 #6
    "Let's give the Bakken play to that San Francisco hippie at US Offshore, Alaska and International" With that my group became "USOAI and Unconventional Reserves". This was before horizontal drilling was perfected and I couldn't see any commercial benefit to exploiting the Bakken with vertical fracking, so the leases were sold. When I was with BP Alaska, I started mapping the extent of methane hydrate zones and that continued at Sun Oil. When asked to consider offshore leases over those zones I knew it was time to retire from the oil business. I had gone from magnetic, gravity and heat flow studies to capturing methane in huge tarps with a hose on top (which was one of the earliest methods proposed).

    I once believed that environmental incidents in California were true accidents because of adherence to regulations. As it turns out, it's obvious that pretty much all the recent leaks, ruptures and spills were due to non-adherence and the ravages of time exposing short cuts. Sometimes this involves deceit and sometimes because of regulators bowing to Big Business. At any rate, I think the science is good and evolving as is the engineering and technology. The implementation tends to suck.
  8. Oct 21, 2016 #7
    Excellent summation, Are you familiar with Leonardo Maugeri's "Age of oil", I would imagine the answer will be yes, If so whats your opinion on his book?
  9. Oct 21, 2016 #8
    I am familiar with the book. M. King Hubbert was my structural geology prof and I picked up a lot about peak oil in his last year there; however, at that time oil wasn't even remotely interesting to me. However, lately and to today I watch global energy and oil reserves and discoveries at LLNL. I entirely agree with Maugeri's assessments. Hubbert's peak oil was correct in the context of his times. The descent from that peak isn't all that precipitous because we are finding oil fairly regularly using more-or-less conventional technology. I think we are preparing to climb another peak with fracking and other methods of hydrocarbon production. The introduction of other unconventional reserves will make this a broad, level-topped mountain. The third peak will be when the Fischer–Tropsch process and other technologies make methane and other carbon molecules a profitable starting point to ethane and higher hydrocarbons. I suspect that somewhere before that last peak, oil will not be necessary for most areas of society and the economy to function smoothly.
  10. Oct 21, 2016 #9
    Thanks for posting a reference to Maugeri's book. It should be read by anybody interested in the subject.
  11. Oct 21, 2016 #10
    If ones not interested in the subject they will be after reading that book, it was an incredible eye opener for me. Its not often you get such an inside look at the business end of that industry. I recommend it to anyone who asks "why" concerning fuel prices, and energy in general.
    (by the way post # 8 makes too much sense, I'll be reading up on the Fischer-Tropsch process, that's new to me.)
  12. Oct 23, 2016 #11
  13. Oct 23, 2016 #12
    Thanks :thumbup:
  14. Nov 2, 2016 #13
    An update...
    http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/usworld/ap/magnitude-earthquake-shakes-oklahoma/article_0012cc61-3d74-5e18-aa53-82bb8775b2fc.html [Broken]

    PAWNEE, Okla. (AP) - A 4.5 magnitude earthquake has shaken central Oklahoma.

    The earthquake occurred around 11:25 p.m. The U.S. Geological Survey reports the epicenter was near Pawnee, about 70 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

    The USGS originally estimated the magnitude at 4.1. A 3.3 magnitude quake was recorded Saturday near Pawnee.

    According to social media reports, the quake Tuesday night could be felt as far away as Kansas City and St. Joseph, Missouri.

    An increase in magnitude 3.0 and stronger earthquakes in Oklahoma has been linked to the underground disposal of wastewater from oil and natural gas production. State regulators have ordered some disposal wells to be permanently shut down and others to reduce the amount of wastewater they return underground.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  15. Nov 2, 2016 #14

    "It's estimated the Wilmington reserves originally contained 3 billion barrels of oil, with around 300,000 million barrels left in the tank today. In 1940, Long Beach began to sink as a result of so much oil being drained from beneath the city. By the early 1950s, this so-called "subsidence" phenomenon was causing the city's elevation to drop by approximately 2 feet per year. The results were destructive: Streets cracked, pipes warped, and buildings became unsafe. The sinking even caused minor geological tremors. In 1953, Long Beach began injecting water into the oil reservoirs, and the subsidence stopped."

    I was only involved in oil exploration, but it struck me that when the fields go on stream, we ought to inject water at the same rate we extract the oil, to preserve the structural integrity of the geologic formation. This is hardly economical, except in terms of potential lawsuits later. We also saw that we could boost flow rates by giving the oil a boost with water at a higher pressure. This is where things fall apart. Water injection at pressures greater than the equilibrium state can cause fracturing and mini quakes. Waste water disposal is also controlled by economics--pump it in as quickly as possible. It seems an acceptable thing to inject water below the oil zone or into fully exploited oil zones to hydrostatic equilibrium. That would diminish subsidence and not overpressure the zone to create fracturing and potential mini quakes.
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