UPDATE: For the best reporting to date on this case see: Better reporting on Range Resources water contamination case in Parker County, it is a long but essential read if you are interested in this case.
You know how industry is always saying things like, Barnett Shale air is wonderful, don’t pay attention to that formaldehyde or don’t worry about the neurotoxins like carbon disulfide because it’s all about the benzene? Well, they are doing it again with the water contamination in Parker County where the EPA issued an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment order.
not just methane.
IJS. It might be important to make a note of that. I don’t know for sure, but it might be relevant.
This WFAA news report says they found methane in most of the Parker County water wells within 3000 feet of the Range Resources Barnett Shale gas well.
West Virginia now has flammable water after hydraulic fracturing. There is flammable water in every state where they are fracking. Did you ever once hear of flammable water before all this fracking? I sure didn’t!
Randy Loftis published an article for the Dallas Morning News about the Parker County water contamination. I’m glad he pointed out what is at stake. The Big Gas Mafia cannot let hydraulic fracturing be at fault. The whole Shale Gas Shell Game depends on fracking.
The case has become just as important for the gas industry — an opportunity to head off possible future federal controls on activities that have been lightly regulated, if at all.
Another important point from Loftis’ article is a statement made by an unnamed consultant to a Texas Railroad Commission geologist and a statement made by the geologist himself regarding oil field activity.
A Railroad Commission geologist wrote in a memo on the Lipsky case that two local consultants told him in “friendly phone conversations” that gassy water wells weren’t uncommon.
However, the consultants, whom geologist Olin MacNamara did not name in his Oct. 8, 2010, memo, said current drilling operations might play a role.
“A source for the gas is often typically unknown,” MacNamara wrote. “However in some cases familiar to them, recent oilfield activities were apparently involved.
Do you see what I see?
- The Texas Railroad Commission geologist admits they typically don’t know where the gas comes from! (Are you thinking what I’m thinking? “No cases of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing in Texas.”)
- The Texas Railroad Commission geologist admits that oil field activities were involved in some cases. (Are you thinking what I’m thinking? “No cases of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing in Texas.”)
Here it is again in the Loftis article:
Many state regulators, including those in Texas, say fracking has never polluted drinking-water supplies. Critics of the practice accuse state officials of ignoring problems because of industry influence.
Personally, I don’t think Steve Lipsky, the Parker County guy who has a garden hose turned flamethrower, cares if his water was contaminated by the exact moment of hydraulic fracturing or a wellbore casing that cracked because of the pressure of hydraulic fracturing or by some other aspect of drilling. He only cares that his water is contaminated.
What the Big Gas Mafia wants us to believe is that murder by a gun is different from murder by a knife. What we keep saying is the guy is still dead: Drill for gas, pollute water.
The EPA is not backing down on this and they seem to be suggesting that fracking could be at fault.
An EPA news release that accompanied the order, however, suggested a link.
“EPA believes that natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future and the process known as hydraulic fracturing is one way of accessing that vital resource,” the release stated.
“However, we want to make sure natural gas development is safe. As we announced earlier this year, we are in the process of conducting a comprehensive study on the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.”
In an interview that day with The News, Al Armendariz, regional administrator of the EPA, repeatedly mentioned fracking without saying it caused the Parker County problem.
“These are drinking-water wells that are above a part of the Barnett Shale that Range Production hydrofracked,” Armendariz said. “We are not making a statement as to whether it was the hydrofracking that is causing this natural gas and other petroleum products to now be in the drinking water. It could be for a variety of reasons.
“But we are confident that the natural gas that is now in the drinking water for these two homes is the natural gas that they are producing from a production well nearby which they hydrofracked during the summer of .”
Range said suggesting a link between fracking and Lipsky’s water is irresponsible. Company consultant Norm Warpinski, an expert on fracking, testified at the Railroad Commission hearing last week that fracking “couldn’t possibly” have let gas leak through 4,000 feet of rock to reach Lipsky’s well.
“We know that the fractures [caused by the practice] don’t grow more than a few hundred feet,” he said.
Now, if this Norm Warpinski guy is truly an expert on hydraulic fracturing and not just a paid protector of the Big Gas Mafia, he should know about the following statements made by other experts on hydraulic fracturing.
From Halliburton’s Manual for the Independent Operator:
“An improperly designed or poorly performed stimulation treatment can allow a hydraulic fracture to enter a water zone.”
From a recent court case:
Dispute has industry, mineral owners nervous
The problem is, however, that fracture stimulation isn’t a precise science, and doesn’t always crack the shale in equal portions. In some ways, cracking the shale evenly could be thought of as trying to hammer a dinner plate into equal pieces – it’s not easy.
“You may plan a fracture that will go 1,000 feet, and it might go 2,000 feet or 400 feet,” said John S. Lowe, a professor of energy law at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law.
But knowing what has happened thousands of feet below isn’t easy.
“How do you prove any fracing was correct or incorrect in an area that is not precise to begin with?” asked Holden, who has practiced natural resources and energy law for more than 30 years. “Either side has to prove what’s going down below, and that’s hard for both sides.”
UPDATE – new information: ‘Rogue’ Shale Cracks Beyond 600 Meters Unlikely, Researchers Say
By Kari Lundgren – Apr 24, 2012 7:01 PM ET
in the uncorrected draft – the abstract says “The maximum reported height of an upward propagating hydraulic fracture from several thousand fracturing operations in the Marcellus, Barnett, Woodford, Eagleford, and Niobrara shale (UA) is – 588 meters.”
588 meters x 3.28 feet/meter = 1928 feet
That distance exceeds the thickness of those formations in many areas.
UPDATE: The landowner sent me some video