Fracking - the pursuit of natural gas in stratified layers of sedimentary rock

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George Victor
Fracking - the pursuit of natural gas in stratified layers of sedimentary rock


George Victor

Again, it is the disposal of waste water at great depth that is questioned.


Arkansas Quake Is Its Most Powerful in 35 Years

An earthquake Sunday was the latest in a group that has raised questions about links to natural gas drilling.

George Victor

Quebec has been saved for the moment.

The Bureau d'audiences publiques sur l'environnement (BAPE) said the shale-gas industry "should stop hydraulic fracturing until more is known about its environmental risks,"  The Canadian Press reports that Quebec's Environment Minister Pierre Arcand announced the government would respect the findings, and exploratin in future would be conducted only after public consultations.

Some exploratory wells in Quebec were found to be leakiing gas. Arkansas last week ordered drilling companies to stop injecting waste water into wells after hundreds of earthquakes were reported, and on Tuesday, the U.S. EPA asked Pennsylvania regulators to "increase monitoring of wastewater discharges."


For a few months we have been putting together a coalition to fight fracking in Nova Scotia. We had already got our ducks lined up and getting serioulsy going when this Quebec moratorium came up.

Great timing for us.

Many page fact sheet on fracking, with links and refs, from Ecology Action Centre.

George Victor

What, however, is the end prospect in a world bound to demand the energy hidden down there, some time or another?  Will we have to prove that fracking for the effing stuff will be deleterious to all life on the planet - worse than its warming?  The events in Japan are bound to renew interest in "clean" fossil fuels. I'm sure the markets will reflect that Monday morning.


Its an open question George: even leaving aside water issues [and why you would do that], it is not clear that there is a net GHG benefit to burning gas from shale beds instead of coal.

Which by the way is the same thing with forestry biomass replacing coal- which is less of a question and more clearly that if anything it is worse than burning coal. But that doesnt stop all sorts of folks claiming it is green, and winning some measure of acquiescence with that.

George Victor

Natural gas burns cleaner, less particulate and acidity.  They are burning it by the millions of cu. ft. each day out Fort McMordor way. There is absolutely no logical connection between these two sets of facts except cost of production and the bottom line presented to investors.




Its not just a question of burning the fuel itself: just the final part of the whole cycle of GHG effects of using a fuel.

For example: you cannot look at GHG effects of forestry biomass versus coal without looking at GHGs in harveted versus no-harvested forest stands. [The variables get very complex, but the principle is what we are looking at here.]

To use the example of electric vehicles: there is no emission at all in the vehicle. But what is relevant is the GHGs produced in the whole cycle, including most of all producing the electricity, versus the emissions of the internal combustion  vehicle.

Similarly with shale gas: it takes much more fossil fuel burning to get the shale gas. So the GHG's of that have to be added into the ledger. Then there is GHGs from natural gas leakage and the much more serious methane leakage.

George Victor

"it is not clear that there is a net GHG benefit to burning gas from shale beds instead of coal."


huh? as you would put it. (Others might be tampted to say bullshit.)

But in saying this (which prompted your huh) I was only saying that the cleanest burning fuel, leaving less particulate in its combustion than other fuels, is being pissed away in the production of bitumen...the NG used to produce one barrel of the shit would heat my house for most of the winter.

Try and get your head around this as a statement about what I think of the ethics of the bastards doing the frigging fracking, not your precious speculations:


"Natural gas burns cleaner, less particulate and acidity.  They are burning it by the millions of cu. ft. each day out Fort McMordor way. There is absolutely no logical connection between these two sets of facts except cost of production and the bottom line presented to investors."


KenS wrote:

Similarly with shale gas: it takes much more fossil fuel burning to get the shale gas. So the GHG's of that have to be added into the ledger. Then there is GHGs from natural gas leakage and the much more serious methane leakage.

Natural Gas is essentially methane, with up to 20% heavier hydrocarbons such as ethane, pentane, and butane, plus very small concentrations of other molecules.

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Fracking blowback spooks energy industry

The oil and gas industry is reeling from attacks on what it considers one of its most important technologies -- fracking.

Protests across New York State, have temporarily banned the practice. Unfavorable coverage in the media and a scathing documentary film that was nominated this year for an Oscar also seem to have scared the industry.

"We've done a terrible job at getting our message out to the public," one gas company executive said during a roundtable discussion on the practice at IHS CERA's annual energy conference. "Now we're locked out of New York."

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Frackng is pretty dangerous for the workers as well:

Gas well explosion leaves man in critical condition

RCMP reported 12 injuries and said patients were transported to Edson hospital by ground ambulance. Three were sent to a burn unit in Edmonton.


The men were preparing to fracture the well with propane, said Energy Resources Conservation Board spokesman Bob Curran. Fracturing involves sending high pressure liquids down a well bore to causes fissures in dense rock, allowing trapped natural gas to escape into the well and be pumped to the surface. Curran said it is common to use propane in fracking operations.


Flagged as offensive George.

I checked the "peronal attack" box because you have to check one of them. Then said:


more like heedlessly and needlessly abusive language.

I'm sure we all let tons go by from George.

I dont really know if this time is any worse than therest, but I'll draw the line here.


That industry spokesperson is funny.

Of course you "dont get your message out" when what has been wrking and what you continue to depend is denial and obfuscation. Counting on the equivalent of poor voter turnout.

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June 2 2011 - More Earthquakes related to Fracking in Arkansas and Britian >

Natural gas is a "better" fossil fuel, but still a fossil fuel and extraction, refining, and transportation of it to customers or power plants all add to the CO2 emissions.

Now, with the big easy natural gas pools being depleted, they are goin' frackin' for it, and contamination of ground water is a serious problem that the industry has so far only denied.

It seems they could frack with less toxic "pressure fluids", and it is probably just cheaper to use the toxic fluids... Hemp Oil would probably work just as well.


also, in USA - Attorney General sues to stop fracking in the Delaware Basin.



Videos of "Fracking Hell" >

So, if fracking is stopped and the Tar Sands take 1/2 of Canada's natural gas to produce bitumen, there simply won't be enough natural gas to provide home heating and power plant electrical production. The Tar Sands is the greatest threat to natural gas supplies - IT MUST BE STOPPED!!!


but DAMN it is hard to type with this awful formatting on the edge of the box!!

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The oil companies are fighting back aqgainst their negative image. Tthe Canadian Oil and Gas  Industry magazine Ocean Resources is given free to all passengers on Air Labrador flights, and here is an article in the latest issue:
Fracking Debate Heats Up
But as the movement to ban fracking gains more momentum, industry experts are saying that the practice has been unfairly labeled, and it is now taking the blame for environmental problems that may have occurred for other reasons.

Guy spends much of his time these days responding to misinformation about fracking and the gas industry in general. Lately CAPP has begun running a series of highly produced television commercials promoting the benefits of a well-managed onshore petroleum industry in Canada, as well as hosting a series of public forums and open houses in petroleum areas around the country. Guy says most of the opposition to fracking is founded on misinformation, and he reiterates Huskins' argument that the activity takes place at a depth that is far removed from ground water. "Typically fracturing activity is taking place 2,000 to 3,000 meters below the surface," he says. "The deepest potable water anywhere is found at around 400 meters. In fact 300 meters is an extremely deep water well. There is absolutely no scientific evidence that fracks taking place at the 2,000 meter depth are having any effect on water wells." He points to the fact that more than a million fracks have taken place on the North American continent since the practice began in 1949, with 167,000 of them taking place in Alberta. "The fact is, even with all that activity there is not a single known incidence of a well contamination as a result of a frack," he says.

Larry Huskins remains quietly optimistic that his industry will prevail in the battle for public hearts and minds. Like Forent, CAPP and other players, Corridor Resources has been hosting open houses and stakeholder meetings in areas around New Brunswick's McCully Gas Field. He says that while the oil and gas industry has made some mistakes in the past, the scientific evidence is strongly there to support hydraulic fracturing as a safe and environmentally benign process. "At the end of the day the public will become educated enough about the real truths to make their own decisions," he says.

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As Texas Withers, Gas Industry Guzzles

Drought restrictions are forcing homeowners to quit watering their gardens, even as thirsty fracking operations help themselves to the agua.


As Texas faces its worst single-year drought ever, many drinking wells have failed, entire towns could go dry, and millions of residential water users face mandatory cutbacks. A study released at a meeting of Texas water districts yesterday predicted that the drought will persist through next summer. But so far, the state's booming and increasingly thirsty natural gas industry faces no limits to how much water it can pump.

"In a drought like this, every drop is important," says Don Young, a local anti-fracking activist who showed me where Chesapeake's water pipes had been hoisted over a jogging trail. "And if we're asked to conserve, then I think the drilling industry should be doing the same thing."

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Earthquakes could be linked to B.C. gas drilling



The coincidence of earthquakes and gas exploration warrants further investigation, said University of Calgary seismologist David Eaton.


"This would fall within the descriptor of a seismic swarm," Eaton told CBC News. "I think, you know, any links to hydrocarbon extraction of fluid injection would be really interesting."

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The Niagara Falls Water Board is exploring the possibility of treating excess fluid from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a method of extracting natural gas from shale — in the Adirondacks. The chemical-laden liquid would be transported to an existing waste water plant along the shores of Lake Ontario, home to an expansive ecosystem and the source of drinking water for more than 9 million people.


One online video from a home in western New York, where companies drill along the Marcellus shale, shows a man lighting running tap water on fire.

The Council of Canadians issued a letter to the board on Thursday, suggesting waste water facilities are rarely able to fully decontaminate fracking fluid.

Currently, there are no treatment plants in the state equipped to handle the waste water, according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

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From The Council of Canadians:

Harper government admits it has power to stop fracking in Canada

Peter Kent, Canada's Environment Minister, was quoted in a recent CBC report confirming the federal government does have power under the Environmental Protection Act to stop fracking projects should they threaten to pollute and contaminate local waterways.

"Fracking," also known as hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial drilling process used to extract natural gas from shale, coal beds and "tight sands" with vertical and horizontal drilling. Sand, water and chemicals are blasted at high pressure to fracture rock where natural gas is trapped. This method of natural gas extraction uses vast amounts of water and dangerous chemicals, which can leach into nearby water sources.

The Council of Canadians is involved in fracking fights across Canada in an effort to protect our water, air and land. Over the past few weeks we joined others along the TransCanada highway in Cape Breton to protest Petroworth Inc's fracking plans next to Lake Ainslie, the largest freshwater source in Nova Scotia. In Fredericton, New Brunswick we marched with a crowd of 600 people calling for a provincial ban. And in Niagara Falls, New York, we spoke against a proposal for the local wastewater facility to take in water contaminated with fracking fluids. The contaminated water would be trucked along the shores of Lake Ontario, putting the Great Lakes - a drinking source for millions - at risk.

To read more about the Council's campaign against fracking go to



Canadian Press piece, so you may see this carried locally.

[Ironically, not in Nova Scotia yet.]

I'd be interested in reports if anyone hears it carried on radio.

Controversy over shale gas fracking galvanizes communities in the Maritimes



Members of the New Brunswick legislature voted on Tuesday to support the Progressive Conservative government's position on shale gas exploration.

The non-binding resolution took on symbolic importance after Tory MLA Kirk MacDonald tabled a petition with almost 16,000 names on it opposed to shale gas exploration and then said he didn't know how he'd vote on his own government's resolution.

The resolution endorses the "responsible" development of a shale gas industry with "world-class" regulations.

Premier David Alward promised a free vote on the shale gas motion last week. That commitment would have allowed Tory MLAs to vote against the shale gas motion without being penalized by the party.

In the end, all the Progressive Conservative members, including MacDonald, voted for the resolution, while all Liberal MLAs voted against it.



...Summers is concerned about the hydraulic fracturing used in the resource extraction process and worries about the potential impacts on drinking water supplies.

I've done a few interviews at this point. And try as I might, I cannot get them to pay attention to air quality issues.

The accurate thing for the reporter to say would be "I asked Summers if he said he was concerned about water contamination, and he said yes." I actually said, Neither I or my neighbours is likely to get contamination from this ONE well.... the issue is what happens when there are hundreds of wells, tanks and pipeleines around us." At least that much got into the article.

But I made an explicit pitch about the less reported air quality issues- and the photographer helped me.

When the reporter sent me the link to the article he said the usual, "water quality is the issue that is out there in circulation," etc.

The community protests are much more developed in New Brunswick and pretty well reported. Totally spontaneous stuff. Google it and you'll come up with hundreds of hits.

The usual industry PR untruths and misleading half truths in the article.



Oh boy! Industry goes after us!

"Hydraulic fracturing: I'll see your ‘expert' and raise you two"

I can hardly wait to mix it with this stooge. We've had a brief encounter before, but she had the podium.

She does not seem to have the PR instinct of when it is best to leave alone.


Amusing side note on those pictures of me. 

When we got out there, the photographer positioned me next to the wellhead. "Keep talking" he says.

But I've been talking steady for an hour. So I'm kind of bagged, and standing there vainly trying to think of some riff to keep me going for a while.

So the photographer starts in on a subject he had got cut off from earlier: the evils of the oil and gas industry and of capitalism in general. That did the trick- away we both went.

So that's not me holding forth on the wells and fracking.


Another industry bright light called up NB NDP Leader Dominic Cardy and threatened a number of times to sue him over public comments about his companies ourageous performance in New Brunswick.

That has recieved a fair bit of play here.

Politician: Oil firm tried to shut me up


The U.S.Environmental Protectin Agency has finally found contaminants from fracking in drinking water in a gas field drilled by Calgary's Encana Corp. That's the one in which Tar Patch guru and now billionaire columnist Gwynn Morgan developed pracking procedurea some years ago.

But, of course, the industry has excuses: "In shale plays, industry typically fractures rock from the horizontal leg of deep wells located at depths of one to three kilometres.

In Wyomiong, where Encana began, "the fracturing happens from vertical wells - an important difference (says the industry) - that are shallower, ranging from a kolometre to 372 metres velow the surface." Some water wells go to 244 metres.

The EPA is back to mumbling about the difference so it looks like the industry wins another round. But at market closing yesterday, Encana was down .95 cents to $19.53. Wonder what would happen if the EPA was not attached at the navel to all political parties and actually investigated all the Pennsylvania, Tennessee, etc. complaints in those deep, horizontal shale plays? And the media!. This is from a story out of Calgary demobnstrating real investigative reporting. :)


E.P.A. Links Tainted Water in Wyoming to Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

EPA blames fracking for pollution


I dont think it is accurate to say that the EPA 'is mumbling about the diifference'.

The EPA must have had to worm their way into this one case through some technicality. Because shale gas fracking is explicitly exempted from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act [thank you Dick Cheney], and every single state 'regulator' in producing states have banded together to fight off EPA attempts to compell the collecting of data- let alone regulation.

In Canada, the federal government does not even have that much in the way of oversight possibility. The government nonetheless has taken the initiative to investigate hydraulic fracturing, and sounds open about their investigation. But then, they were making supportive noises about the provinces wanting to look at tuning up CPP- which turned out to be a blatantly obvious diversionary tactic.


Not sure how to imbed this video, but a friend of mine in New Brunswick shared it on her FB wall yesterday. Who knew? 

Animation of Hydraulic Fracturing explained by children.WMV


Precocious in the land of Shaw and Joyce, and capable of detecting blarney in the blather from an early age. Heartening.


On top of being really well done and effective, that video by the Irish kids is one of the most concise statements I have seen.

In other words- you cant do much better in a limited time than hit exactly the points they did.


One caveat, if you do that.

The well pads [with several wells each] are not 2 miles apart in a  producing field. It is typically half a mile, and there are few points that would be as much as 2 miles from a compressor station.

The resource is distributed everywhere in the shale bed, and this intensity of industrial infrastruture is necessary for profitable extraction. In a typical 70 square kilometre producing area, full development is 200 plus wells, with all the tanks [routinely venting VOCs], pipelines, compressors, access roads, and truch traffic, plus may multi-million litre mixing and waste brine ponds on the go at any time, for the multiple wells being fracked again... even after the field is fully developed. 


Fracking In Nova Scotia: Why the big secret?


Rather strange if you ask me titling aomething to be about fracking, when it is coal mining you want to talk about.

The text about Donkin mine is good, but it is sanwiched between that title and this closing:


Members of Occupy N.S., and other local environmental organizations, are holding a rally and march in Halifax, to educate and denounce the use of Hydraulic Fracturing. And encourage folks in other cities and rural communities that may be directly affected by fracking to hold local rallies and demonstrations, stand in solidarity across the province, to show the government, and corporations we DO NOT consent to fracking our land. (But DO consent to strip mining and coal gasification regardless of what the majority of people in the local communities have been saying for years!)

We consent to coal mining and gasification? ??

Thats quite a leap in logic.


Read the links Ken, it is not just strip mining coal that's golng on here, what part of the government's 2010 Call for Proposals for Coal Gas Exploration and Development do you not understand?

It is not a leap of logic at all, but a fact lacking any evidence to the contrary. For over a year now Nova Scotia's fracking shale gas propaganda machine has very knowingly censored any information about what  is actually happening in  Nova Scotia, as a brief example:

It is only because of the efforts of volunteers at that the Scope of the "Fracking Shale Gas Review" was expanded to include the Coal Gas projects happening in Nova Scotia that the fracking shale gas propaganda machine does not have the integrity to even mention to this day! Why the big secret? . If there's any evidence that Nova Scotia's funded enviromental groups oppose strip mining Cape Breton or Stellarton for coal and throwing the emission regulations out the window last year to allow burning it, or fracking Coal Gas under downtown Sydney then  please do share!

And note that under the Environment Act, if you're going to appeal the Minister's decision to drill a conventional oil well at Lake Ainslie to the Supreme Court it has to be based on "FACT", not far fetched fantasies and presumptions about fracking shale gas in the oil and coal fields of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia, no matter how many "tens of thousands of dollars" are already in the bank without doing any local community fundraising events whatsoever!

It's a crying shame that the Council of Canadians' fracking shale gas propaganda machine is doing an excellent job of preventing any honest or informed dialogue about what is actually happening in communities across Nova Scotia where there's oil or gas or mineral resources. The real problems being faced by the people in affected communities are the same no matter what they're mining or drilling for or where, banning fracking shale gas does nothing to address any of them.



The March Toward the Abyss  -  by Fidel Castro

"...Just a few months ago I read for the first time some news about the existence of shale gas..."

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Making the rounds on Facebook today:

Situation normal, all fracked up: Obama embraces fracking

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USGS: Recent Earthquakes 'Almost Certainly Manmade'

Report implicates oil and natural gas drilling, aka fracking


Poll shows Canadians opposed to hydraulic fracturing


The jury is in on this process - let's completely ban it

Quebec bans any fracking pending studies


Survey says...fracking is causing earthquakes

new report by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) says that the increased seismic activity taking place in certain areas of the United States is almost certainly the result of oil and gas drilling activities. The group has been studying dozens of earthquakes across America for the last eight months and determined that the man-made quakes were taking place in areas where fracking or deep waste water injection had recently occurred.


Two separate studies are providing insights into the earth-shaking consequences of the controversial gas extraction process known as fracking.

Both studies confirm that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, can trigger manmade earthquakes. The process involves blasting water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to fracture rock to obtain oil and natural gas.


hey does anyone know if they are fracking out NB way? I watched  the news last night and they said they had like  39 earthquakes there over the last month


They have not begun any fracking in NB yet. The NDP convention came out opposed to fracking. The governing PCs have promised the strongest environmental regulations around fracking in NA to be implemented. Large amount of anti-fracking sentiment in NB. You may find the PCs back away from in before next election.


i was just browsing around looking to see if they're doing it anywhere in AC and could only find that PEI had agreed to start. have they?


There has definitely been fracking in NB. Fewer wells than in Nova Scotia- but arguably a more serious effort [nonetheless, an ambitious drilling program aborted early on]. (Fall 2010)

I cannot remember whether PEI had one exploratory well, or just an "almost". But the government did give it the green light.

The economic realities of the moment is that there would likely not be a single exploratory well in the region even if there were no restrictions.


I'm sure the NB govt wishes now that they could put the genie back in the bottle. They are isolated now, with moratoriums and apparently serious reviews underway in Quebec and Nova Scotia. They painted themselves into a corner that there is no easy way out for them now.

Still, I expect they'll figure out how to pull the plug before the election.

The promise of the strongest regulations in NA is utter bullshit. It's a questionable goal [the bar to clear being so low], but they wouldn't know how to do it even if they had the will.

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In Ontario, when industrial wind turbine development corporations are getting farm land contracts to build those huge mothers, in the contract fine print is the right to frack their land for natural gas. Oh, those wind turbines are built to run on natural gas too, so when doesn't blow, the industrial turbine can generate electricity with natural gas backup - oh how ungreen it all is - cough & a front for the oil/gas industry.

Industrial wind turbines are such bad business.


I have heard that before, and I'm curious why they would bother.

Land contracts mean FAR more in the US than Canada. Here, the Crown [province] owns the resource and grants or does not the right to extract. Extractors also need surface leases to actually extract. While getting those is not trivial, it is SO secondary... and the chances if there is a resource accessible from the land under contract IS the right land and enough of it, those chances are extremely low.

In other words, the chances in Canada that land contract right conferrs any real benefit are very, very low.

So why do they do it?

Or put another way, are you sure they do it? IE, it has been done more than once [by some possibly stupid bright light]? Might this be some kind of rural legend? Or am I missing something about what use these land contract rights are?

Fracking at production scale- not just an exploratory well- is extremely invasive and has a frightful footprint. But it is not very picky about exactly where the wellpads are placed. Which means that there is almost always either some ccrown land available, or one landowner out of 10 or 20 happy to lease.

If it really becomes a developing production field then the amount of leases needed starts to get at least potentially 'prickly'. But the fact you MIGHT have a wind turbine land contract in your pocket that will help is pretty low, and that will just be one piece of the puzzle anyway. If the locals are pretty universal about not wanting you and your leases, you are into 'issues' even if you have one or two land contracts for wind turbines in your pocket. And now we are talking the powers of expropriation, which is a different kettle of fish. But you get the point of wondering what is the point/use of those land contracts? (And are they actually common?)