Home » Posts tagged 'fracking'

Tag Archives: fracking

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

New Satellite Data Reveals Dangerous Methane Emissions in Permian Region

New Satellite Data Reveals Dangerous Methane Emissions in Permian Region

New research based on satellite data confirms that the oil and gas industry in the Permian region of Texas and New Mexico is leaking record amounts of methane. The new research published in the journal Science Advances found that methane emissions in the Permian Basin were equivalent to 3.7 percent of the total methane produced by the oil and gas industry there.

In December DeSmog reported on the work of Robert Howarth, a biogeochemist at Cornell University, who has been studying the methane emissions of the oil and gas industry. Howarth’s latest research estimated that 3.4 percent of all natural gas produced from shale in the U.S. is leaked throughout the production cycle, which appears to be confirmed by this new research.

Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas and makes up approximately 90 percent of what is known as natural gas. It’s a major contributor to global warming.

The oil and gas industry has long tried to sell the idea of natural gas, which is, again, primarily methane, as a clean energyclimate solution. However, with a leakage rate of 3.7 percent, natural gas is actually worse for the climate than coal.

Advertisements for natural gas from the industry trade group the American Petroleum Institute have claimed, “Thanks to natural gas, the U.S. is leading the way in reducing emissions.”

This new satellite data confirms that simply isn’t the case. When the methane leaks from oil and gas production are taken into account, natural gas is unquestionably a dirty fossil fuel.

This new research also helps explain why methane emissions rose at such a high rate in 2019.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Transition Towns, Re-localisation, COVID-19 and the Fracking Industry.

Transition Towns, Re-localisation, COVID-19 and the Fracking Industry.

The vulnerabilities of the global village and its economy have been laid bare by the assault of the coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2), which has led to a pandemic of the infectious disease, COVID-19. The mobility chains that enable the flow of civilization are now substantially truncated, with collapsing demand for transportation fuels – and crude oil, from which they are refined – leading Russia, Saudi and other OPEC countries to agree on combined production cuts of 10 million barrels a day, even though demand might have fallen by 30 million barrels a day. It remains an open question how soon, or if at all, everything will get back to normal, when arguably, it is “normal” that has brought this current situation upon us, as yet another element of a changing climate. The broad reach of the expanding global mechanism both invades previously uncharted terrains and ecosystems, and provides vectors for the transmission of contagion. Thus, the relentless rise of a resource-intensive civilization and its highly mobile population carries many potential dangers. 

The need for re-localisation, in the anticipation of Peak Oil, leading to waning supplies of cheap transportation fuel, was a founding tenet of the Transition Towns (TT) movement. However, this motivation appeared to lose some of its urgency, once a flood of oil entered the market, largely as exhumed from shale by the procedure of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Indeed, a few years ago, TT-HQ asked itself the question, “Does so much cheap oil mean peak oil as an argument is now over?” In fact, the production of conventional crude oil has remained on a plateau since 2005, while 71% of subsequent growth in the production of “oil” has been provided by shale hydrocarbons; hence, we may anticipate that any stalling of the fracking industry will begin to restrict the overall global oil supply. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Top Shale Oil Fields Decline 10 Times Faster Than Global Oil Industry

U.S. Top Shale Oil Fields Decline 10 Times Faster Than Global Oil Industry

The Global Economy is heading for serious trouble when the disintegration of the U.S. Shale Oil Industry begins, likely within the next few years.  With Global GDP growth based on world oil production growth, the main driver has been the U.S. shale oil industry. This is terrible news because the top U.S. shale oil fields are declining ten times the rate as are the world’s mature oil fields.

According to the IEA, the International Energy Agency’s 2018 Executive Summary:

Natural production declines are slowing, but more investment will be needed. Each year the world needs to replace 3 mb/d of supply lost from mature fields while also meeting robust demand growth.

I have seen higher estimates of 4-4.5 million barrels per day of annual production declines from the world’s mature oil fields.  Either way, annual oil production declines from the world’s mature oil fields is a tenth of the rate from the top four U.S. shale oil fields.

If we look at the data taken from Shaleprofile.com, the top 4 U.S. shale oil fields (Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford & Niobrara), 2018 production reached 6.6 (mbd) million barrels per day by December and then declined to 3.7 mbd by October 2019:

The top 4 U.S. shale oil fields experienced a 44% decline rate from Dec 2018 to Oct 2019… and this isn’t for the entire year.  It will take another month or so before Shaleprofile.com releases the total production figures up until December 2019. Thus, the total-year decline rate may be closer to 46-48%.

If we assume a conservative 45% decline rate from these top U.S. shale oil fields and compare it to the average decline rate from the world’s mature fields, here is the result:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Quake Threat to Dams Posed by Fracking Was Long Warned

The Quake Threat to Dams Posed by Fracking Was Long Warned

A new trove of internal exchanges shaken loose by Ben Parfitt amplifies decades of safety urgings.

F3CBA861-9E63-4AF0-8300-138E5879B955.jpeg
A ‘shake map’ shows a magnitude 4.5 earthquake that hit northern BC late in 2018, likely caused by fluid injection. The map was created by Gail Atkinson, an expert who called for ‘no frack zones’ around dams. Illustration created by Gail Atkinson. Additional labels by The Tyee.

“Why is this so difficult?” a BC Hydro dam safety engineer plaintively asked his superiors seven years ago.

He’d been stymied again in proposing that because the risks of earthquakes caused by fracking were clear, preventing disaster required creating “no frack” zones around dams.

His sense of urgency runs through a long thread of discussions within BC Hydro and the Oil and Gas Commission surfaced by investigative researcher Ben Parfitt.

For years now the two crown agencies have been reluctant to publicly talk about the risks earthquakes triggered by the oil and gas industry pose to critical dam infrastructure throughout northeastern B.C.

But a freedom of information request by Parfitt at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has shed new light on what has been a long and often acrimonious internal debate.

Hundreds of emails, letters, memos and meeting notes released by the utility in response to Parfitt’s request and his just published investigationmake the following important revelations:

Officials at BC Hydro have been concerned about the shale gas industry since 2007 when coal bed methane extraction resulted in seismic activity at the Peace Canyon Dam near Hudson Hope. 

The Peace Canyon Dam, which provides six per cent of the province’s electricity, is built on fragile shale rock and wasn’t built to withstand even modest earthquakes.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Argentina Wants a Fracking Boom. The US Offers a Cautionary Tale

Argentina Wants a Fracking Boom. The US Offers a Cautionary Tale 

YPF shale

Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez takes office in the midst of an economic crisis. Like his predecessor, he has made fracking a centerpiece of the country’s economic revival.

Argentina has some of the largest natural gas and oil reserves in the world and “possibly the most prospective outside of North America,” according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. If some other country is going to successfully replicate the U.S. shale revolution, most experts put Argentina pretty high on that list. While the U.S. shale industry is showing its age, Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale is in its early stages, with only 4 percent of the acreage developed thus far.

The country feels a sense of urgency. Declining conventional production from older oil and gas fields has meant that Argentina has become a net importer of fuels over the past decade. Meanwhile, Argentina’s economy has deteriorated badly due to a toxic cocktail of debt, austerity, inflation, and an unstable currency.

For these reasons — a growing energy deficit, a worsening economic situation, and large oil and gas reserves trapped underground — there is enormous political support for kick-starting an American-style fracking boom in Argentina.

It has taken on a level of political significance that outstrips its immediate economic potential. In Argentina, Vaca Muerta is treated as the country’s chance at salvation, with fracking seen as doing everything at once — creating jobs, reducing the debt burden, plugging the energy deficit and turning Argentina into a major player on the global oil and gas stage.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC’s Drilling and Fracking Credits a $1.2 Billion Subsidy in Recent Years, Researcher Finds

BC’s Drilling and Fracking Credits a $1.2 Billion Subsidy in Recent Years, Researcher Finds

Credits reduce future royalties that frackers owe the public for access to the resource.

Fracking-Pipes.jpg
‘At almost every step of the way the government has refused to provide information on these subsidies,’ said Ben Parfitt, resource policy analyst with the BC office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, of his investigation of the province’s deep well credit program.

“It’s been quite a battle to get to this stage,” said Ben Parfitt, a resource policy analyst with the B.C. office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. “At almost every step of the way the government has refused to provide information on these subsidies.”

In a report released Nov. 13, Parfitt found that over the last two fiscal years the government has provided $1.2 billion in credits to companies drilling deep wells and fracking horizontal wells, a process that involves injecting liquids and chemicals under high pressure to break up rock and extract gas.

Companies including Petronas Energy Canada Ltd., Painted Pony Petroleum, Shell Canada Energy and Cutbank Dawson Gas Resources Ltd. have received hundreds of millions in credits that reduce the future royalty payments they owe to the provincial government for access to the publicly-owned resource.

“We’re out of pocket to the extent that if those credits did not exist, if the program did not exist, then the royalty revenues would be higher,” Parfitt said. Budget documents show that in total the government expects to collect about $250 million a year in natural gas royalties.The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

The deep well credit program dates back to 2003 when it was intended to help with the development of a type of drilling that has since become normal in the industry, Parfitt said.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Ban Adds to the Tremors Taking Down the Fracking Industry

UK Ban Adds to the Tremors Taking Down the Fracking Industry

How long can BC and Alberta ignore the financial and geological realities facing them?

CuadrillaResourcesHumanChain.jpg
In 2013, protesters formed a human chain around Cuadrilla Resources’ fracking operation in West Sussex, England. The UK recently announced a ban on fracking. Photo by Bogdan Maran, EPA.

The dramatic decision by the British government to ban the disruptive technology of hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is just one of two volatile storms now shaking the industry.

And both have ramifications for the governments of British Columbia and Alberta, which actively subsidize the uneconomic industry with tax breaks, royalty credits, free water and taxpayer-funded seismic research and monitoring.

The first typhoon is the industry’s failing business model.

The fracking of shale formations in Canada and the United States has largely generated more negative cash flows than revenue, due to high capital, water and energy costs combined with rapid depletion rates and low commodity prices. 

Canadian firms such as Ranch Energy Corp. and Trident Exploration, which based their business models on fracking, recently went bankrupt, leaving massive liabilities for the public to clean up. The Tyee is supported by readers like you Join us and grow independent media in Canada

The highly indebted Encana Corp., a champion of the so-called “shale gale,” banked its future on fracking and lost. 

In recent years it was forced to sell off many of its holdings, lost 90 per cent of its share value and let go of thousands of employees. Just this month it changed its name and left Alberta for the oil-rich Permian Basin in Texas where companies are also losing money and going bankrupt. 

Investors have become so skeptical about the industry’s ability to generate profits that they’re either openly shunning the sector or refusing to loan it money. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

UK Gov’t Halts Fracking In England Ahead Of General Election

UK Gov’t Halts Fracking In England Ahead Of General Election

The U.K. fracking industry has grounded to halt as the British government ended its support for the controversial practice of extracting oil out of the ground, reported Bloomberg.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government announced Saturday that all new hydraulic fracturing wells would be banned. The country’s only active site in northwestern England would be immediately shut down.

The move to ban fracking across the country, which involves injecting water and sand into oil wells at high pressure, was followed by the Oil and Gas Authority publishing a new study that concluded there are severe hazards for people living around fracking sites. Some of the pollution risks were toxic water and earthquake-related damage.

Johnson’s administration banned fracking just weeks ahead of a general election. His party is attempting to win over voters in rural areas in northern England, where much of the fracking sites reside.

The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, cheered on Twitter about the fracking prohibition, though he said it was only a “temporary pause” and “an election stunt to try and win a few votes.”


The Conservatives’ 𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝗮𝗿𝘆 pause of fracking is an election stunt to try and win a few votes.

Boris Johnson described fracking as ‘glorious news for humanity’. We cannot trust him.

Labour would ban fracking. That’s real change.


Britain’s business and energy secretary, Andrea Leadsom, said after reviewing the Oil and Gas Authority’s report into fracking-related risks, “we can not rule out future unacceptable impacts” that fracking has on communities.

Seismic activity around a fracking site near Blackpool, a seaside town on the Irish Sea coast of England, operated by shale gas group Cuadrilla Resources, was suspended in August after earthquakes spooked residents.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Frack Quakes: Knowledge Is Weak as BC Drilling Grows

Frack Quakes: Knowledge Is Weak as BC Drilling Grows

As an LNG boom looms, so does the mystery of related tremors, finds report.

Farmington area
Oil and gas industry drilling pads dot the landscape around Farmington, BC, one of the areas jolted by 2018 quakes. Photo via Google Earth.

Regulators know fracking has caused earthquakes in northeastern B.C. big enough to rattle homes and halt construction at the Site C dam worksite in 2018.

Those same regulators certainly are mindful of the fact that if one or more planned LNG plants are built on B.C.’s coast, fracking in the province would surge.

But a newly released report for the BC Oil and Gas Commission says researchers can’t yet answer basic questions about where fracking will trigger earthquakes or why some frack jobs set off only small earthquakes while others trigger larger ones.

The independent geological report by the Calgary firm Enlighten Geoscience found incomplete seismic data and complex geology are major obstacles to understanding the potential hazard posed by fracking-triggered earthquakes.

“The lack of consistency in type, quantity and quality of data being collected, and especially in data that has been collected in the past, makes it difficult to develop a good understanding of the induced seismicity in the region,” said the report.

The report looked at the Kiskatinaw Seismic Monitoring and Mitigation Area created by the BC Oil and Gas Commission in May 2018 after public complaints about the number of earthquakes now unsettling the formerly quiet seismic region. The study area includes Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, the two regional centres.

The earthquake risk is high, the researchers found. The underground formations are “in a near critical state, meaning only small fluid pressure increases are sufficient to cause specific sets of fractures and faults to become critically stressed.”

Hydraulic fracturing sends highly pressured blasts of large quantities of water, chemicals, and sand down wells to shatter rock formations and allow gas to flow.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why “fracked” shale oil and gas will not save us

Why “fracked” shale oil and gas will not save us

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Fracking-flare.jpg

Preface. As early as 2011 experts were questioning how large fracked natural gas reserves were.

The latest IEA 2018 report predicts shale oil/gas could start to decline by 2025, and all global oil as soon as 2023. 

Shale oil and gas might not even exist without super low interest rates making it quite easy to borrow money, as Bethany McLean writes in her book “Saudi America”.  And even though these companies are $300 billion in debt, as long as they can get money, they’ll continue to drill.  Some day the dumb middle-class money will be surprised that their 401K and other high interest mutual funds and bonds have crashed after the next economic crash.

***

Cunningham, N. 2019. The Shale Boom Is About To Go Bust. oilprice.com

The shale industry faces an uncertain future as drillers try to outrun the treadmill of precipitous well declines.

For years, companies have deployed an array of drilling techniques to extract more oil and gas out of their wells, steadily intensifying each stage of the operation. Longer laterals, more water, more frac sand, closer spacing of wells – pushing each of these to their limits, for the most part, led to more production. Higher output allowed the industry to outpace the infamous decline rates from shale wells.

In fact, since 2012, average lateral lengths have increased 44 percent to over 7,000 feet and the volume of water used in drilling has surged more than 250 percent, according to a new report for the Post Carbon Institute. Taken together, longer laterals and more prodigious use of water and sand means that a well drilled in 2018 can reach 2.6 times as much reservoir rock as a well drilled in 2012, the report says.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The G-7 Blues

The G-7 Blues


What’s at stake in all these international confabs like the G-7 are the tenuous supply lines that keep the global game going. The critical ones deliver oil around the world. China imports about 10 million barrels a day to keep its operations going. It produces less than 4 million barrels a day. Only about 15 percent of its imports come from next door in Russia. The rest comes from the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Think: long lines of tanker ships traveling vast distances across the seas, navigating through narrow straits. The Chinese formula is simple: oil in, exports out. It has worked nicely for them in recent decades. Things go on until they don’t.

That game is lubricated by a fabulous stream of debt generated by Chinese banks that ultimately answer to the Communist Party. The party is the Chinese buffer between banking and reality. If the party doesn’t like the distress signals that the banks give off, it just pretends the signals are not coming through, while it does the hokey-pokey with its digital accounting, and things appear sound a while longer.

The US produces just over 12 million barrels of oil a day. About 6.5 million of our production is shale oil. We use nearly 20 million a day. (We’re not “energy independent.”) The shale oil industry is wobbling under the onerous debt load that it has racked up since 2005. About 90 percent of the companies involved in shale oil lose money. The capital costs for drilling, hauling a gazillion truckloads of water and fracking sand to the rig pads, and sucking the oil out, exceed the profit from doing all that. It’s simply all we can do to keep the game going in our corner of the planet, but it’s not a good business model. After you’ve proved conclusively that you can’t make a buck at this using borrowed money, the lenders will quit lending you more money. That’s about where we are now.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BC Government Frets Over Climate Change While Heavily Subsidizing Fracking Companies

BC Government Frets Over Climate Change While Heavily Subsidizing Fracking Companies

Worse, the giveaway probably isn’t needed, with the global industry desperate for new gas fields.

Fracking-Pipes.jpg
Fracking does not need subsidies to be profitable. But we still hand ’em out. Photo via Shutterstock.

We’re in a climate crisis. So why did the B.C. government give oil and gas companies $663 million in subsidies last year so they would produce more fracked natural gas?

The NDP government hasn’t declared a climate emergency. But it commissioned a report that warns of more severe wildfire seasons, water shortages, heat waves, landslides and more.

Despite that, the government handed almost two-thirds of a billion dollars to fossil fuel companies — $130 per person in the province — so they’ll extract more methane, more quickly. (The numbers are all from the always-interesting Public Accounts released last month by the province’s auditor general.)

Which is perverse in a time when we’re warned of climate disaster.

British Columbians own the oil and gas under the ground. Companies pay royalties to the government for the right to extract and sell it

Since 2003, the B.C. government has been putting natural gas on sale. It has cut royalties to subsidize the industry’s road construction and reward any operators who drilled in the summer.

And most significantly, it started offering the gas at a deep discount for companies that drilled “deep wells.” The industry argument was that they were riskier and more expensive; the government had to sell the gas more cheaply to encourage companies to drill. It increased the discounts in 2009 and 2014, giving even bigger breaks to the fossil fuel companies. (Who were also big BC Liberal donors.)

The discounts — subsidies from taxpayers who have to pay more to make up for the lost revenue — have enriched fossil fuel companies for more than a decade.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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

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

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

In 2010 when I first started writing about hydraulic fracturing — the process of blasting a cocktail of water and chemicals into shale to release trapped hydrocarbons — there were more questions than answers about environmental and public-health threats. That same year Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland, which featured tap water bursting into flames, grabbed the public’s attention. Suddenly the term fracking — little known outside the oil and gas industry — became common parlance.

In the following years I visited with people in frontline communities — those living in the gas patches and oilfields, along pipeline paths and beside compressor stations. Many were already woozy from the fumes or worried their drinking water was making them sick. When people asked me if they should leave their homes, it was hard to know what to say; there weren’t many peer-reviewed studies to understand how fracking was affecting public health.

Those days are over.

In June the nonprofits Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York released the sixth edition of a compendiumthat summarizes more than 1,700 scientific reports, peer-reviewed studies and investigative journalism reports about the threats to the climate and public health from fracking.

The research has been piling up for years, and the verdict is clear, the authors conclude: Fracking isn’t safe, and heaps of regulations won’t help (not that they’re coming, anyway).

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Shale Is Doomed No Matter What They Do

U.S. Shale Is Doomed No Matter What They Do

Shale drillers

With financial stress setting in for U.S. shale companies, some are trying to drill their way out of the problem, while others are hoping to boost profitability by cutting costs and implementing spending restraint. Both approaches are riddled with risk.

“Turbulence and desperation are roiling the struggling fracking industry,” Kathy Hipple and Tom Sanzillo wrote in a note for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA).

They point to the example of EQT, the largest natural gas producer in the United States. A corporate struggle over control of the company reached a conclusion recently, with the Toby and Derek Rice seizing power. The Rice brothers sold their company, Rice Energy, to EQT in 2017. But they launched a bid to take over EQT last year, arguing that the company’s leadership had failed investors. The Rice brothers convinced shareholders that they could steer the company in a better direction promising $500 million in free cash flow within two years.

Their bet hinged on more aggressive drilling while simultaneously reducing costs. Their strategy also depends on “new, unproven, expensive technology, electric frack fleets,” IEEFA argued. “This seems like more of the same – big risky capital expenditures.”

EQT’s former CEO Steve Schlotterbeck recently made headlines when he called fracking an “unmitigated disaster” because it helped crash prices and produce mountains of red ink. “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,” Schlotterbeck said at an industry conference in June. Related: Will The U.S Gas Glut Cap Oil Production?

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Bizarro World: The Herd Has Truly Gone MadYou’re not crazy. The world we now live in is

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

~ Charles Mackay (1841)

Like me, you may often feel gobsmacked when looking at the world around you.

How did things get so screwed up?

The simple summary is: the world has gone mad.

It’s not the first time.

History is peppered with periods when the minds of men (and women) deviated far from the common good. The Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the rise of the Third Reich, Stalin’s Great Purge, McCarthy’s Red Scares — to name just a few.

Like it or not, we are now living during a similar era of self-destructive mass delusion. When the majority is pursuing — even cheering on — behaviors that undermine its well-being. Except this time, the stakes are higher than ever; our species’ very existence is at risk.

Bizarro Economics

Evidence that the economy is sliding into recession continues to mount.

GDP is slowing. Earnings warnings issued by publicly-traded companies are at a 13-year high. The most reliable recession predictor of the past 50 years, an inverted US Treasury curve, has been in place for the past quarter.

Yet the major stock indices hit all-time highs earlier this week. And every one of the 38 assets in the broad-based asset basket tracked by Deutsche Bank was up for the month of June — something that has never happened in the 150 years prior to 2019.

It has become all-too clear that markets today are no longer driven by business fundamentals. Only central bank-provided liquidity matters. As long as the flood of cheap credit continues to flow (via rock-bottom/negative interest rates and purchase programs), keeping cash-destroying companies alive and enabling record share buybacks, all boats will rise.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase