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True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby drwater » Wed 11 Jan 2017, 20:10:35

I want to ask all the oil and gas industry insiders (Rockman, Rockdoc, all you other rock stars..) what they think about the risks to groundwater from fracking. I have read the new EPA report on fracking that just came out, and while they put some caveats in the executive summary, there is really minimal evidence of groundwater pollution due to fracking - maybe a handful of cases out of the tens of thousands of wells. Or am I missing something that you insider folks may have a better handle on?
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Wed 11 Jan 2017, 21:48:51

dwater - This is where you need to watch the wording carefully. Two categories: (A) Pollution directly from frac'd wells (actually any well...frac'd or not) and (B) Pollution from improperly/illegally disposed oil field fluids (recovered frac fluids, salt water, etc).

(A) It happens but not often. But the vast majority of the cases it's not from a well during the frac'ng process itself. Most of those incidents involve salt water injected into the fresh water acquired.

And a subcategory: oil/NG being injected into the aquifers by the frac'ng process. Again very rare. But it's not uncommon to find a very strong correlation between oil/NG in the freshwater column and frac'ng. Lots of early MSM stories highlighting this. But in most cases the shallow hydrocarbon pollution was documented long before any oil patch drilling in the area. And it was often discovered by water wells. And the correlation isn't a coincidence: oil/NG migrates vertically until it get tcoul so deeper reservoirs can have shallow traps above in the fresh water volume. Two years ago I found a very nice 20' NG reservoir 46' below the surface. The area is well known for a lot of commercial shallow gas. And the fresh water acquifer is at 160'.

(B) This is the source of most frac fluid et al pollution. It can be expensive to properly do disposal. And a common problem is more often with the disposal company and not the oil company. Once the fluids ared truck off the lease the oil companies would rather not know what happens.

One of the big early source of frac fluid contamination came municipal waste treatments facilities. Companies would pay to dump the fluids there. Unfortunately those facilities can't neutralize the toxicity and it wouiwouild be dumped intyo the stream systems. It was illegal for the oil companies to do that but the municipalities were exempt...so they did it for the revenue. Eventually NY and PA both passed laws making it illegal for the municipalities to take the frac fluids.

So yes: a lot of toxic frac fluids made it into the environment initially it rarely from the wells themselves. Eventually locals learned to stop focusing on the well site but tracking those harmless looking water tankers. Tankers that oftener haul after midnights when there wasn't many witnesses around.

BTW if you had beern watching coverage for the last 8 years or so you may have noticed a huge decline in the numbed of MSM stories about frac fluid and fresh water acquifer pollution despite in many areas, though declined, hundreds of wells are still being frac'd.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby Zarquon » Wed 11 Jan 2017, 22:41:04

I'm not sure but I think someone here mentioned that sometimes the cement job (cement filling the annulus, between the casing pipe and the walls of the borehole) can be sloppy. That might allow oil, gas or frac fluids to contaminate an aquifer above. Tony Soprano driving a tanker truck is probably the bigger problem, though.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Thu 12 Jan 2017, 00:25:57

Let me describe an incident from 3 decades back, that happened in enviro-conscious Reston, VA. This is a pricey place where the manufacturing building I worked in was formerly located. Reston was a "planned community" where the practice of "greenbelting" was created and published in architectural digests years before. It was a happy, clean, beautiful place.

Two guys got their EPA certifications for Hazardous Wastes Disposal by working at legitimate facilities, that were destroying such wastes in high temperature incinerators. Then they left their former employer and created their own hazardous waste firm, and started undercutting their former employer in price. This was completely legal, the only regulatory requirements for such firms were that you have certified employees, and comply with an inspection any time that an EPA inspector demanded one.

I paid these guys to dispose of a 55-gallon drum of chlorinated solvent contaminated with solder fluxes and whatever else rinsed off circuit boards from our "wave solder" production machine. I got a very good price from them, which made our accounting dept. happy with me.

Then an EPA inspector showed up, curious as to why one small facility could process such a variety of liquid wastes at such attractive prices. He found the two company owners were "on vacation", and the facility was being run by illegal immigrants. He then inspected the facility, and found horror.

The two "engineers/owners" had cut the tops out of a half dozen 55-gallon drums, and welded them into one large pipe, and buried one end below grade with a backhoe. Then they had poured concrete around the pipe and paid for the erection of a prefab steel building on the slab. Any hazardous waste delivered was simply poured into the pipe and allowed to soak into the ground.

When I left that area, Reston was still quite beautiful, and they were still assessing how much ground and ground water would be removed for the cleanup, and how many tens of millions this would cost. The groundwater in that whole lovely greenbelted neighborhood was poisoned, and the local water company had to build a pipeline and abandon all the groundwater wells.

It was also a good question as to who pays, because this waste disposal company was fully compliant and had EPA certificates to prove so, until they shut it down. Of course, the taxpayers will fund the cleanup.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby AdamB » Thu 12 Jan 2017, 00:46:35

drwater wrote:I want to ask all the oil and gas industry insiders (Rockman, Rockdoc, all you other rock stars..) what they think about the risks to groundwater from fracking. I have read the new EPA report on fracking that just came out, and while they put some caveats in the executive summary, there is really minimal evidence of groundwater pollution due to fracking - maybe a handful of cases out of the tens of thousands of wells. Or am I missing something that you insider folks may have a better handle on?


Handful of cases...maybe.....after MILLIONS of hydraulic fracturing treatments spanning 60+ years? Those statistics might describe the least problematic groundwater pollution process in the history of man.

The part of hydraulic fracturing usually missed (or purposely avoided by its detractors) are the practical aspects of the procedure. Upon providing a differential hydraulic pressure vector away from the wellbore out into the expanding induced fracture, the flowback and production of oil and gas then reverses the vector shortly afterwards. From that point in time onward the differential pressure pressure is towards the wellbore, and fluid migration is unidirectional back to the well, barring other reservoir pressure or external pressure influence, such as a depleted zone in contact with the stimulated rock volume. It is my opinion having had to explain these processes to rooms of people that generally A) detractors aren't aware of basic fluid flow properties in porous media, or B) are advocates and don't mind violating the laws of physics to make a point.

Ground water contamination examples that are real (and they are, even if invasive fluid depth can be measured in inches) revolve around wellbore integrity failures, not always associated with hydraulic completions.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby drwater » Thu 12 Jan 2017, 14:03:07

I want to thank those of you who have responded so far. That seems to confirm what I have read and what makes sense based on my knowledge of hydrogeology.

Rockman said:
Two categories: (A) Pollution directly from frac'd wells (actually any well...frac'd or not) and (B) Pollution from improperly/illegally disposed oil field fluids (recovered frac fluids, salt water, etc).


I am most interested in (A) to address those folks that get all excited having watched Gasland movies and think they now know all about fracking.

(B) is certainly a significant problem, and not exclusive to oil and gas (as KaiserJ points out) or fracking.

There is also the issue of inadequate well seals as was pointed out and I could see how natgas in particular could get past mediocre seals. While natgas is not toxic, it could cause chemically reducing conditions in an aquifer and dissolve manganese, arsenic, etc from the formation. That doesn't seem to be a problem with fracking per se, but could be an issue with any O&G well that does not have good seals or completion.

But overall, sounds like fracking itself may have had a few early problems, but is remarkably safe from a statistical perspective in terms of fresh groundwater impacts and risks.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Thu 12 Jan 2017, 17:07:45

dwater - As far as those "leaking seals" (probably mean bad cmt jobs). A bad cement job is THE most common mechanical failure in the oil patch. So common that ever drill rig keeps the repair equipment on location 24/7. I had one well on which testing one cement job failed 23 times...failed after every repair attempt. And we gave up and abandoned the well for safety reasons... A $48 million loss.

The oil patch makes every effort to have every cmt job tested to make sure it holds. And done with no motivation to protect the environment. Done for two reasons. First bh the hands on the well: to protect themselves. Bad cmt jobs maim and kill. Seconds by the suits in the office that go to bed safe every night: bad cmt jobs can ruin the profitability of a well. BTW cementing is probably the least expensive operation on any well. There's no money to be saved by "going cheap" on cementing.

But, as always, sh*t happens.

Now back to bad disposal companies. One of the oil patch's dirty secrets: out of sight...out of mind. The Big companies, like ExxonMobil, are very selective about third party contractors. Again for financial/PR reasons: they don't want sh*t coming back on them. But smaller companies won't watch those third parties too closely.

But understand most field personnel have a very dim view of such cheaters. In Texas we call them "midnight haulers": they make runs late at night and illegally dump loads where no one is watching. But most of us have families that live on well water. My 16 yo daughter drinks water from a shallow well every day. So do the neighbors. Get caught dumping around those homes and dealing with the popo might be the least of their problems.

Twice the Rockman helped bust a midnight hauler. Once by reporting and once by blocking the road. That driver was a tad up set but with my production super sitting on the tailgate with a 12 gauge across his lap there wasn't much conversation while waiting on DPS. LOL.

BTW one of the most viewed videos of "absolute proof" of frac'ng contaminating a water well with methane was eventually proven to be a scam. The homeowner showed NG burning from the end of his garden hose. And the NG was actually coming from his water well. But under threat of arrest the video producers confessed: the NG was coming from a separate flare line the homeowner had used for DECADES to get the NATURALLY occurring methane pollution in the fresh water acquired. Pollution that existed long before the first oil well wasd drilled in the area. (BTW tens of thousands of water wells in PA coincident with the Marcellus play also have such a history. Which makes it difficult to prove the contamination was manmade (which can happen).

Oddy even though most companies usually tend to ignore such scams (they are not that uncommon) that company, Ranger Resources, went after him.

The Texas Supreme Court Rules That a Fracking Company’s Defamation Suit Against a Guy Who Claims His Tap Water Is on Fire Can Proceed

From http://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-p ... n-proceed/
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Fri 13 Jan 2017, 10:59:18

I should point out that although bad cement jobs do happen and are sometimes associated with catastrophe the vast majority are completed effectively. Reputable companies test cement jobs using a combination of production logging tools (cement bond logs, temperature logs etc) and leak off pressure tests. The companies I have been associated with over the years would never walk away from a bad cement job and not try remediation. Not only that but you have to remember that most fresh water reservoirs sit at a depth of no more than 200m below surface. The vast majority of the shales being fracked are at much greater depths (eg. Marcellus depths are anywhere from 1500 to 2500m below surface; Eagleford from 1300m to 4300m). What that means is that for production fluids to leak from the formation up around the well bore annulus into a shallow aquifer it would require the failure of not one but as many as 3-4 cement jobs. This is because usually in deeper wells the surface hole is drilled large and a large diameter casing is set. That casing is cemented in place most often below the aquifer. A second casing would be run over smaller hole size to the top of the reservoir and that would be cemented in place as well (sometimes there may be an intermediate casing string added for various reasons). And then a liner would be run over the drilled reservoir itself and that would be cemented in place both at the casing shoe as well as over the length of the reservoir in order to allow for proper perforations and eliminate annular crossflow. I think it is fair to say it would take a highly unusual event for all of these various cement jobs to fail.
The other argument some have made is that fracking itself would cause fluids to migrate up through the roof rock to a shallow aquifer. This is extremely unlikely given the overburden pressures one is dealing with. Micro seismic run during the fracking progress demonstrates that on average the best fracks result in fractures migrating a radius of 150m away from the well bore. The only possible way that fluids would rise to the far distant acquifer is if either the well bore or the created fractures intersected a vertical fault that was not naturally sealed. But that is also unlikely given the operator would notice immediately that he was not building pressure during the frack job and continuously losing fluid.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby Zarquon » Fri 13 Jan 2017, 13:08:29

doc - Thanks for the clarification. I guess I should have pointed out that the closest I have ever been to an oil well was watching There Will Be Blood. I've read an introductory-level book on all things petroleum and I've seen schematics of wells, but the details become a bit hazy after a while.

dwater - "I am most interested in (A) to address those folks that get all excited having watched Gasland movies and think they now know all about fracking."

Perhaps it would help to say that, as Rockman pointed out, protecting the environment is a secondary issue for the O&G companies. More important than preventing oil and gas from contaminating your groundwater is preventing your filthy groundwater from contaminating their precious oil. Secondly, an improper cement job is not only a monetary issue - the Deepwater Horizon exploded when the cement job failed to prevent gas from flowing through the annulus (that plus a handful of other failures). Being sloppy with the cementing can kill you.

Finally, when discussing fracking with the uninitiated: the fracking fluids stay in the borehole for the duration of the frac job, i.e. for very short time only, right? After that, they are pumped to the surface and disposed. I imagine that any remaining fluids that have seeped into the fractures are quickly washed out by the oil or gas when production begins. Now if there was a mechanism that allowed residual frac fluids to migrate through thousands of feet to the surface or shallow aquifers within months, then why is the oil or gas still down there? And if there was a way, how long would it take for a fluid to reach the surface - isn't that a matter of decades?
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Fri 13 Jan 2017, 16:06:16

Perhaps it would help to say that, as Rockman pointed out, protecting the environment is a secondary issue for the O&G companies


This might be true for some of the small private independents but I know of no large intermediate or for that matter smaller publicly traded intermediate that doesn’t put very high value on environmental stewardship. The last 3 companies I was with before retirement all had held the same view that they worked to the highest environmental standards possible regardless of local laws. As an example there are certain jurisdictions globally where there are not a lot of environmental regulations when it comes to oil and gas drilling but reputable companies still use standards that are considered to be very high (eg. Those set up in Louisiana or the regulations set up in the North Sea by the UK and Norway). As Rockman pointed out it is not the oil companies but rather some of the service companies that historically created the problem. One of the reasons the shale business boomed in the US was the rise of “mom and pop” waste water trucking companies. The reduced cost to have waste watere hauled off site to a storage treatment centre was important in lowering overall lease operating costs. But the integrity of those trucking companies was the issue, sometimes they would decide to save themselves time and cost by just dumping the water somewhere (maybe a river or a pond). Once these trucking companies took possession of the water it was not something operating companies paid attention to. One could argue that isn’t very smart given the laws under the SuperFund Act and I think that most oil companies now require delivery receipts from the trucking companies they hire.

Finally, when discussing fracking with the uninitiated: the fracking fluids stay in the borehole for the duration of the frac job, i.e. for very short time only, right? After that, they are pumped to the surface and disposed. I imagine that any remaining fluids that have seeped into the fractures are quickly washed out by the oil or gas when production begins. Now if there was a mechanism that allowed residual frac fluids to migrate through thousands of feet to the surface or shallow aquifers within months, then why is the oil or gas still down there? And if there was a way, how long would it take for a fluid to reach the surface - isn't that a matter of decade


Nowadays you are seeing more and more companies recycling their frack fluids. This can be done with a minimum amount of treatment and not only saves trucking or injection costs but also saves on how much fresh water has to be sourced from nearby streams or water wells. There are always frack losses to the formation and that fluid is either recovered during production as part of the BS&W (basic sediment and water) which is always part of produced petroleum or might be left behind in pore space.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby kuidaskassikaeb » Tue 17 Jan 2017, 16:44:53

BTW one of the most viewed videos of "absolute proof" of frac'ng contaminating a water well with methane was eventually proven to be a scam. The homeowner showed NG burning from the end of his garden hose. And the NG was actually coming from his water well. But under threat of arrest the video producers confessed: the NG was coming from a separate flare line the homeowner had used for DECADES to get the NATURALLY occurring methane pollution in the fresh water acquired. Pollution that existed long before the first oil well wasd drilled in the area. (BTW tens of thousands of water wells in PA coincident with the Marcellus play also have such a history. Which makes it difficult to prove the contamination was manmade (which can happen).

Oddy even though most companies usually tend to ignore such scams (they are not that uncommon) that company, Ranger Resources, went after him.

The Texas Supreme Court Rules That a Fracking Company’s Defamation Suit Against a Guy Who Claims His Tap Water Is on Fire Can Proceed

Fromhttp://www.texasmonthly.com/the-daily-p%20...%20n-proceed/

I don't know why RockMan keeps bringing this up. It is a lie, there is a massive amount of gas, and we have had this discussion before.

Note the date from the Rockmans posted material is April 2015

The U-tube video is from September 2015. This is not a scam. Rockman should be aware that with all of the law suits flying around that his statement is Libel. Normally I wouldn't worry, but who knows.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf9blbgnYes

The scientist Hildebrand in the U tube video is a source for the following story.

https://www.desmogblog.com/2015/09/10/battle-over-flaming-water-and-fracking-continues-texas-federal-government-asked-investigate

I also have to say Mr. Drwater, that asking oil company execs about their safety record and to expect an honest answer is pretty silly, although years ago I did it and the years of arguing with the rock guys has basically turned me against them. Anyway, even if these problems are rare, if an oil company caused them you can be sure

1 They will deny everything
2 They will smear you, and claim it's a scam
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby ROCKMAN » Tue 17 Jan 2017, 22:22:07

"...U-tube video is from September 2015. This is not a scam.". Do they claim the NG in the water came from drilling nor frac'ng? An if they do how do you know the NG isn't there naturally? I've seen naturally occurring NG flamed from numerous water wells in Texas for more then 4 decades.

BTW the video means nothing anyway: I can produce the same erffect using my propane bottle from my BBQ grill. You want to PROVE your point it's real simple: post links to third party documented examples. With many tens of thousands of frac jobs over the years there should be hundreds of DOCUMENTED cases if it truly isn't a rare event.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby coffeeguyzz » Wed 18 Jan 2017, 07:49:07

People, particularly anti fossil fuel folks, might be surprised at the extent the oil industry - in general - extends itself to be above reproach in environmental matters for all the above stated reasons.
I was involved in the wildcatting off New Joisey in the late '70s when the entire operation was under intense scrutiny for pollution concerns.
When a group of us first got off the chopper, the pusher gave us a quick rundown on how things were run on 'his' rig.
He told us the pencil necked geek walking around with the clipboard worked for the state and his job, 100% of the time, was simply to watch out for ANY hint of debris of any kind going overboard or pollution of any manner taking place.
"Boys, if a single Styrofoam coffee cup blows out of your hands and goes overboard and he sees it, just go back your bags couse your sorry ass is gonna be on the next chopper outta here" ... near verbatim account.
These guys take this stuff very seriously.

Conversely, I'd witnessed numerous occasions in other parts of the world where rivers of trash would go floating by non stop.
Some perspective and awareness could go a long way in achieving shared goals.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby dohboi » Wed 18 Jan 2017, 08:41:01

"...the oil industry...extends itself to be above reproach in environmental matters..."

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Well, when your main business is destroying the world, it's nice to put up nice appearances once in a while! :)
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby AdamB » Wed 18 Jan 2017, 11:28:44

ROCKMAN wrote: With many tens of thousands of frac jobs over the years there should be hundreds of DOCUMENTED cases if it truly isn't a rare event.



Millions Rock, millions.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby kuidaskassikaeb » Wed 18 Jan 2017, 14:05:41

...U-tube video is from September 2015. This is not a scam.". Do they claim the NG in the water came from drilling nor frac'ng? An if they do how do you know the NG isn't there naturally? I've seen naturally occurring NG flamed from numerous water wells in Texas for more then 4 decades.

TW the video means nothing anyway: I can produce the same erffect using my propane bottle from my BBQ grill. You want to PROVE your point it's real simple: post links to third party documented examples. With many tens of thousands of frac jobs over the years there should be hundreds of DOCUMENTED cases if it truly isn't a rare event.
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Dear Rockman

Do you really believe any of that?
Also what you said was "that it was a scam where they guy faked a leak with a hose from a propane cylinder." (close enough) Given what you just wrote, I will assume that you now know that what you said before is complete BS. Also you keep saying that people are always trying to scam oil companies with fake leaks, but you always mention this one, you got a real one?
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby AdamB » Thu 19 Jan 2017, 15:48:32

dohboi wrote:"...the oil industry...extends itself to be above reproach in environmental matters..."

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Well, when your main business is destroying the world, it's nice to put up nice appearances once in a while! :)


Industry isn't destroying the world. Folks like you and I, computer users, plastic users, grid based electricity users, nylon and plastic users, are destroying the world by demanding that industry give us these things. Stop demanding it, and they will stop providing. I recommend starting with computer usage, at least in the case of anyone who wants to be taken seriously in regards to how they are not causing the destruction of the world along with everyone else.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby slackercruster » Thu 19 Jan 2017, 19:24:19

OP I've tested lots of municipal water and well water and can't say for sure. Some wells are cleaner than others. But on the whole, the high fracking rustbelt has dirtier water.

Here are the test photos...

https://danielteolijr.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/6035/

I had heard fracking can cause radiation pollution in the water. So far have never found that to be the case.
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Re: True Water Pollution Risks of Fracking

Unread postby kuidaskassikaeb » Fri 27 Jan 2017, 13:41:53

It is time to actually answer the questions that started this.

Industry says 1% of wells leak and sometimes 2% when they are drunk. Most environmentalists think 5% so the differences aren't that big. The report cited below says 10%

https://phys.org/news/2014-06-fracking-gas-wells-leak.html

Leaking was defined as gas coming up outside of the pipe. This would be the source of methane in many aquifers. The problem with living in a sweat spot is that there is about 1 pad per square mile. It is not known how many miles a leak can contaminate but there would be .8 pads within one mile, 3.1 pads within 2, and 7 within 3. I should probably go longer, but if a leak can pollute 3 square miles multiply the upper numbers by 7. I also don't know if they mean pads or wells. These numbers are not miniscule.
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