Hydraulic Fracturing and Marcellus Shale Gas 11 22 2011


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The drilling technique of Hydraulic Fracturing has allowed natural gas producers to extract natural gas economically from deep shale formations. This innovative drilling technique has made enormous quantities of natural gas available in wide areas of the United States from Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Wyoming, North Carolina, and Colorado. The drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing accounts for roughly a quarter of total natural gas production in the United States as cited by the Energy Information Administration. With the increased emphasis on the use of natural gas in our federal energy policy, there will be new regulations, processes, and resources that will be required to mitigate the risks to human health and the environment from this new drilling technique. The presentation discusses the process of hydraulic fracturing; the threats that are posed to human health and the environment, areas in the USA where the process is used with an emphasis on the Marcellus Shale formation, current and new regulations being put into place, and plaintiff challenges to the process.

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Hydraulic Fracturing and Marcellus Shale Gas 11 22 2011

  1. 1. Michael D. Klein, P.E., CHMM 11/17/11
  2. 2.  The method used to make hard shale rock more porous Allows gas shale to flow through the fine grained, organic-rich, sedimentary rock formations to the wellbore
  3. 3.  Shale gas is present across much of North America in basins of both extreme and moderate size. Some of the major shale reserves include:  Marcellus (Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky)  Bakken (North Dakota, Wyoming)  Haynesville (Texas, Louisiana)  Barnett (Texas)  Eagleford (Texas)  Fayetteville (Arkansas)  Antrim (Michigan, Illinois, Ohio)  Woodford (Oklahoma)
  4. 4.  The Marcellus Shale is known as the Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas The US Geological Survey estimates 500 trillion cu ft of natural gas in Marcellus alone
  5. 5. The Penn State study reported that Marcellus gasindustry generated . . . $3.0 billion in total value added revenue more than 44,000 jobs $389 million in state and local revenue
  6. 6. For 2011 the Penn State estimate exceeds $10 billion in total value added revenue more than 100,000 jobs $1 billion in state and local revenue in Pennsylvania
  7. 7.  Until recently shale gas could not be cost effectively extracted Two factors came together in recent years to make shale gas production economically viable: • Advances in horizontal drilling • Advances in hydraulic fracturing
  8. 8. By drilling and casing a well for the extraction of thenatural gas producers drill into the earth several thousand feet until they reach the natural gas reservoir steel casings are inserted to a depth of 1,000 to 3,000 ft the space between the casing and the drilled hole is filled with cement to stabilize the well and prevent any leakage the cement sets this process is repeated, using a series of s successively smaller casings until the reservoir is reached depths reach distances of 6,000 to 10,000 feet
  9. 9. Once drilling and casing is complete 3 to 5 million gallons of water, mixed with sand and chemical additives, are pumped into the wellhead at high pressure, creating cracks in the rock beds the hydraulic fracturing mixture is 95% water, 4.5% proppant, and 0.5% chemical additives
  10. 10. Once drilling and casing is complete proppant is a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped fracturing fluid formulas vary slightly among production sites in accordance with the unique requirements of each site’s geology The fracture width is typically maintained after the injection by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid
  11. 11. In the case of shale gas extraction using hydrofracking, questions have been raised Environmental safety of process The management of the volumes of water used to fracture shale Water, water, it’s everywhere!
  12. 12. Environmental and human health concernsassociated with hydraulic fracturing include: If all goes as intended the many fissures and fractures in the surrounding rock are sealed by the cement Depending on the nature of the gaps and fractures, it can be extremely difficult to properly cement the casing Contamination of groundwater
  13. 13. Environmental and human health concernsassociated with hydraulic fracturing include: The migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface Risks to air quality Industrial strength waste streams containing high concentrations of a wide range of substance that have adverse health and water quality effects
  14. 14. Environmental and human health concernsassociated with hydraulic fracturing include: Mishandling of waste; chronic and persistent occurrence of spills and contamination incidents Waste streams are expected to exceed existing treatment and assimilative capacities Withdrawals of water to support hydraulic fracturing during dry periods extending duration of “drought”
  15. 15. Problems with drilling for natural gas is notnecessarily the drilling of the wells anddistribution of the gas . . .• It is managing the site and the fate of drilling fluids• Improper disposal of recoverable drilling fluids• Mismanagement of wastes in “tank farms”
  16. 16.  Environmental cleanup Loss of land value Human and animal health concerns Introduction of hundreds of tons of fracturing chemical into a watershed over a period of several decades The gradual dispersion of low levels of toxic chemicals into the environment and water supplies through multiple pathways
  17. 17. Nationally over 40 lawsuits have been filedTerms of the lease Landowners who do not own the oil or gas rights under their property are suing for nuisance Physical ailments such as headaches, nosebleeds, nausea, and open skin sores Diminution in the value of their property as a result of damaged soil, water, and air
  18. 18. The 2005 Energy Act exempted oil and gas companiesfrom federal environmental laws such as . . . Safe Drinking Water Act Underground Injection Control Program  Did restrict the use of diesel fluids in the fracking process Clean Water Act (CWA)  Onsite Pretreatment  Publically Owned Treatment Works (POTW)  Centralized Waste Treatment Facilities  Handling of biosolids from facilities treating frack water
  19. 19. Claims are hampered due to the lack of information concerning themakeup of the fracking fluidOn 6/9/2009 the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals(FRAC) Act was introduced to Congress – Amends the Safe DrinkingWater Act to:  Repeal the exemption from restrictions on underground injection of fluids near drinking water sources granted to hydraulic fracturing operations under such Act  Require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations
  20. 20. Information on the composition of fracking fluidthat has largely been protected as trade secrets Methane migration into the ground water and drinking water supply
  21. 21. Several States require the disclosure of thehydraulic fracturing water composition; they are:WyomingArkansasMontanaLouisianaWest VirginiaColorado (pending)Texas (pending)New York (pending)
  22. 22.  The operators disclosing information posts to FracFocus, a website operated by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission The websites have become a central location for the posting on information regarding the hydraulic fracturing of wells Visitors to the website can search for wells by county, longitude and latitude, or the name of the operator, as well as by other criteria
  23. 23. Management of flowback fluids
  24. 24. Recycling of water for reuse in the frackingprocess  Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)  Naturally occurring radioactive materials  EPA is evaluating current and potential new CWA pretreatment
  25. 25.  The Marcellus has sought-after deposits of natural gas, but has also found large amounts of highly radioactive radium Significant amounts of radiation have ended up in wastewater, much of it sent to Public Treatment Plants
  26. 26.  However, most municipal wastewater treatment plants are completely unequipped to process the levels of radiation in the wastewater and cases of leakage and contamination in waterways have occurred The threat has caused enough concern that the state of New York recently issued a partial moratorium on hydrofracking activity to investigate the issue
  27. 27. Gas STAR under the Clean Air Act (CAA)  Control air emission throughout the natural gas extraction and production process  Natural gas development process causes the release into the atmosphere of a variety of toxic emissions: o methane o toluene o ethane o ethylbezene o n-hexane o xylene o benzene o sulfur dioxide
  28. 28.  These emissions are occurring during the flowback process, where fracking fluid, ground water, and gas come to the surface before natural gas is collected for transmission to the processing facility New EPA regulations for new frack wells; reuse of existing wells must separate liquid and gas hydrocarbons during the flowback process Captured gases can be treated and sold
  29. 29.  The new regulations also cover compressors used to transport natural gas through pipelines and the pneumatic controllers used to maintain liquid levels, pressure and temperature in processing plants and compressor stations, condensate and crude oil storage tanks EPA calculates cost recovery in under a year of compliance with regulations in tanks
  30. 30.  Public comments on the proposed rules October 24, 2011 with Final rule February 28, 2012 Estimated 11,400 new fracked wells and 14,000 re-fracked wells will be impacted by the new regulations Currently 1.1 million wells are producing oil and natural gas in the USA
  31. 31.  At the request of Congress, the EPA was tasked to better understand potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources In March 2010, the EPA announced its intention to conduct the study in response to a request from Congress The EPA has held a series of public meetings across the nation to receive input from states, industry, environmental and public health groups, and individual citizens
  32. 32.  The study was reviewed by the Science Advisory Board (SAB), an independent panel of scientists, to ensure the agency conducted the research using a scientifically sound approach The initial research results and study findings will be released to the public in 2012 The final report will be delivered in 2014
  33. 33.  The final study plan looks at the full cycle of water in hydraulic fracturing  the acquisition of the water  the mixing of chemicals and actual fracturing  to the post-fracturing stage, including the management of flowback and produced or used water as well as its ultimate treatment and disposal.
  34. 34.  Earlier this year, EPA announced its selection of locations for five retrospective and two prospective case studies; the two Pennsylvania sites are:
  35. 35.  Well water protection and other water protection:  No permits would be issued for sites within 500 feet of a private water well or domestic use spring  No permits may be issued for a proposed site within 2,000 feet of a public drinking water supply well or reservoir at least until three years of experience elsewhere has been evaluated  No permits will be issued for well pads sited within a 100-year floodplain
  36. 36.  Spill control:  All new guidelines will require that flowback water on site must use watertight tanks within a secondary containment  No open containment may be used  A secondary containment will also be required for all fracturing additive containers, additive staging areas and flowback tanks to ensure any spills of wastewater or chemicals at the well pad do not migrate into water supplies
  37. 37.  Regulating Water Withdrawals:  New Legislation: A special permit would be required to withdraw large volumes of water for industrial and commercial purposes to ensure there are not adverse impacts  Permit Condition: All withdrawals from surface water bodies will be subject to limits to prevent impacts upon ecosystems and other water quantity requirements  Identification of the water source: An applicant intends to use will be required and an annual report must be issued on the aggregate amount of water it has withdrawn or purchased
  38. 38.  Delaware River Basin Commission governs natural gas drilling in northeast Pennsylvania The Commission oversees the water supply for Philadelphia and half the population of New York City The Commission imposed a moratorium on all Marcellus drilling projects in the four-state basin until the rule- making process is complete  Recently established rules to allow gas drillers to use fracking to extract natural gas from the Marcellus  Rules are designed to protect water quality in the Delaware River and its tributaries
  39. 39. Questions?Thank you for having me!