NATURAL GAS: Companies rushing to mine Wis. sand for ‘fracking’
Monday, August 1, 2011 (currently not available online)
As the demand for natural gas in the United States grows, companies from around the country are flocking to Wisconsin in the hunt for fine silica sand, a necessary component in one of the most popular methods of gas drilling.
The sand is needed for a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water, sand and chemicals are blasted underground, creating cracks in the rock and releasing pockets of natural gas. The specific type of sand found in Wisconsin, known as Northern White, is especially prized for its shape, size and strength, making it ideal for fracking operations.
The land grab has created environmental and health concerns for residents near mining areas. There are worries that the mining operations will hurt groundwater supplies and that sand could seep into wells. There are also concerns that sand mining could hurt air quality as crystalline silica, a fine particulate byproduct of the mining, is known to cause serious respiratory problems.
Mining companies have argued that there is no evidence that exposure to the sand and its particulates is dangerous, with inhalation a health risk only in mine or factory environments. Local residents disagree, though, and have complained that windblown sand and particulates have made breathing difficult. They have also found sand in their homes and cars.
“Your clothes are full of it, you can’t roll your car windows down,” said Judy Carey, a Wisconsin resident. “The breathing part of it isn’t good. You can just feel it in your throat, feel it in your nose.”
Even with the health and environmental risks, the mining projects can be lucrative for everyone involved. Mining companies have purchased land in Wisconsin from residents, often paying several times the market value for the property. The mines are profitable for the companies, too, with fine silica sand selling for as much as $200 per ton (Jason Smathers, Wisconsin Watch, July 31). — LN
Mining Sand to Get More Oil
Oil and gas companies such as EOG Resources and Southwestern race to line up supplies of quartz granules used to extract oil through fracking.
The EOG mining for frack sand in Wisconsin is the same EOG that will soon have a 1400 acre sucking and blowing frack sand mine in North Texas. EOG doesn’t like the criticism they’ve been getting over this frack sand mine. They said so in the local paper:
EOG reacts to sand mine criticism
By GREG RUSSELL, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register
They promise to be a “good neighbor” and follow all the absurdly weak state regulations that do not protect public health, safety or the environment.
They are “misunderstood.”People call them Enron Oil and Gas and they aren’t Enron, they are EOG. <–stomp foot–>
And Leonard said her company itself is misunderstood. Though EOG has been identified in media as “Enron Oil and Gas,” she said the initials stand for nothing. She admitted the company is a former Enron subsidiary but said it split from the disgraced energy corporation more than a decade ago.
“We spun off from them, basically bought our way out of them, long before Enron imploded,” she said. “We’ve been a separate independent company for a long time.”
This is from the Men who fleeced…
More Enron stupidity
Richard Kinder wasn’t the only investor to fleece Enron. Mark Papa, CEO of EOG Resources — EOG is short for “Enron Oil & Gas” — holds that distinction as well.
Papa ran EOG when it was an Enron subsidiary. Lay and Skilling wanted to continue moving Enron out of the old economy in 1999, which meant getting rid of the oil and gas exploration business. Papa believed that exploration and development was exactly the business to be in, so he bought Enron’s stake in EOG — minus its operations in China and India — for $600 million in cash.
The exchange has been laughably one-sided: Enron flailed, EOG Resources flourished. Today, the business is worth more than $18 billion. Like Richard Kinder, Mark Papa quietly built a fortune from Enron’s castoffs.
You can also connect some dots here: Enron Oil & Gas names President and CEO and board-members