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Thread: Fracking Debate

  1. #1 Fracking Debate 
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    Prince was at newsstand today and discovered article in popular periodical regarding pros and cons of "fracking" technique for natural gas extraction.

    Prizing the views of dotcomrades, he invites their thoughts on the matter. Enough damage has been done for one day, a most pleasant evening to all.


    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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    I'm not sure what's to debate? Hydrofracking causes a lot of problems. Do we need it? Probably not. Is there someone out there with a vested interest in it? Quite certainly yes.

    The Saudis want us to go on thinking fossil fuels are the only way we can go. That way we'll go to them with our hat in our hands, time after time after time, and inflate our dollar just to pay them more.


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    Actually, article was centered on domestic production of natural gas, your "methane economy", dotcomrade. Thank you for responding.

    http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-e...fuels/ngv4.htm
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  5. #4  
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    My version of the Methane economy focuses on making it from scratch rather than mining or "fracking" for it.
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    There's a hydrogen-to-methane process...not as efficient as we'd like, but if we lay on extra wind, wave, and solar, use that to make hydrogen, then use that to make methane...we have existing infrastructure to transport-to wit, the NG pipelines.

    Storing green electricity as natural gas

    "So far, we converted gas into electricity. Now we also think in the opposite direction, and convert electricity into 'real natural' gas," explains Dr. Michael Sterner of Fraunhofer IWES, who is investigating engineering aspects and energy system analysis of the process. "Surplus wind and solar energy can be stored in this manner.
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    Fracking is usually done at such great depths that the concerns about leakage of fracking fluids into aquifers is probably exaggerated. However the refusal of energy companies to release the compositions of their proprietary fluids leads to suspicion, and energy companies in any case are extremely good at propaganda, so I would never take their assurances at face value.
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    energy companies in any case are extremely good at propaganda
    As well as overt lying, such as the oft stated claim to the public that there's not one verfied case of water pollution from fraking even though the industry is well aware of a 1987 EPA report to Congress of documented cases. http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/indust...il/rtc1987.pdf
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    There is a recent study by Duke University that appears to positively link fracking with methane contamination of water wells, although no contamination by fracking fluids was found.

    Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying Gas-Well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing - ProPublica
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    Fracking is usually done at such great depths that the concerns about leakage of fracking fluids into aquifers is probably exaggerated.
    That would depend on what the industry means by "usually" and "great depths". If 10% of the fracking done in the current NE US gas boomlet endangers important aquifers of the region, we should ban the practice until it is better regulated - agreed?

    Meantime, taking them at their word, it sounds as though we could ban all fracking that is shallow enough or near enough to aquifers to arouse concern, without hampering their drilling much at all - since it's such a small fraction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    If 10% of the fracking done in the current NE US gas boomlet endangers important aquifers of the region, we should ban the practice until it is better regulated - agreed?
    Agreed. Fracking is a big issue currently in Colorado. I'm trying to remain objective about it, while people are setting their tapwater alight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    My version of the Methane economy focuses on making it from scratch rather than mining or "fracking" for it.
    True enough, dotcomrade, an abundance of mined methane would of necessity compete with the synthetic variety. There is also the question of submarine hydrates, potentially very large ones:

    Methane clathrate - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    If 10% of the fracking done in the current NE US gas boomlet endangers important aquifers of the region, we should ban the practice until it is better regulated - agreed?
    Agreed. Fracking is a big issue currently in Colorado. I'm trying to remain objective about it, while people are setting their tapwater alight.
    As appeared in film? Story in magazine was that this guy had incompetent plumber. Just saying...and compliments upon your neutral stance pending more information, dotcomrade, perhaps to be found on this very thread? Very gratified by all responses, thanks to everyone.
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  14. #13  
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    I haven't seen any film, nor read a magazine, but it's been shown on the TV news broadcasts and reported on NPR and in the Denver Post so it must be true.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury View Post
    I haven't seen any film, nor read a magazine, but it's been shown on the TV news broadcasts and reported on NPR and in the Denver Post so it must be true.
    LOL!!!
    And just to acheive minimum message length, LOL.
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  16. #15  
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    Actually, NPR and papers might just be repeating what was shown on broadcasts, journalists can be as lazy as rest of us.
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  17. #16  
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Finger Prince View Post
    Actually, NPR and papers might just be repeating what was shown on broadcasts, journalists can be as lazy as rest of us.
    Ironical, isn't it?
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  18. #17  
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    Hydraulic fracturing has been used for decades with no negative effects whatsoever. I do not have specific figures, but I can relay anecdotally that a significant percentage of current production would not be viable and in some cases possible without hydraulic fracturing.

    The problem here relates to its specific application in the new shale gas plays that are currently being exploited. As noted, the reported incidents appear to relate to methane conamination, not contamination by fracturing fluids, which in my experience are benign. I have not looked deeply at this problem, but my gut reaction based on a reasonable amount of industry experience, is that the issue is with the casing and cementing programs that should have sealed off the shallow aquifers, and not with the fraking process itself.

    A colleague is returning from a few days in the North East US from a region where such drilling is ongoing. I'll see if he has any insights that might add something to the discussion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by finger prince
    Actually, NPR and papers might just be repeating what was shown on broadcasts
    Or they might not be, of course. Why don't you find out - actually listen to NPR and read a few newspapers and see if that's the case?
    Quote Originally Posted by ophiolite
    The problem here relates to its specific application in the new shale gas plays that are currently being exploited. As noted, the reported incidents appear to relate to methane conamination, not contamination by fracturing fluids, which in my experience are benign.
    They aren't benign if they get into the drinking water aquifers.
    Quote Originally Posted by ophiolite
    I have not looked deeply at this problem, but my gut reaction based on a reasonable amount of industry experience, is that the issue is with the casing and cementing programs that should have sealed off the shallow aquifers, and not with the fraking process itself.
    The casing and cementing programs are part of the fracking process itself.
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  20. #19  
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    It has been the experience of Prince that often newspapers and radio programs do not comprehensively list sources. Often Prince has questions which are not addressed in such sources so he prefers Internet, but suggestion of dotcomrade iceaura is not without merit.

    Late Steven Jay Gould noted this phenomenon and is mentioned in pretty good essay below:

    Colganology: That Old Fox Terrier Problem

    This represents digression from topic but is interesting nevertheless. Prince will start new threat (um, THREAD) devoted to credibility entitled "CREDIBILITY".
    The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.- Thucydides
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  21. #20  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    They aren't benign if they get into the drinking water aquifers. .
    Please provide a citation that supports this contention.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ophiolite
    I have not looked deeply at this problem, but my gut reaction based on a reasonable amount of industry experience, is that the issue is with the casing and cementing programs that should have sealed off the shallow aquifers, and not with the fraking process itself.
    The casing and cementing programs are part of the fracking process itself.
    That's a darn peculiar way of putting it. That's rather like saying the drill bit is part of the rig floor because its connected to it via the drill string. In what way do you justify the statement? Hydraulics fracturing is initiated after the casing is cemented in place. Yes, it has to occur first, but they are separate processes.
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  22. #21  
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    Both sides of the debate shown here. I'd be interested in your take on it, Ophiolite.

    Energy in Depth
    Gasland: A film by Josh Fox
    http://1trickpony.cachefly.net/gas/p..._Sept_2010.pdf
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    They aren't benign if they get into the drinking water aquifers. .
    Please provide a citation that supports this contention.
    http://democrats.energycommerce.hous...%204.18.11.pdf

    The list of known injected chemicals is in Appendix A. A short list of the most commonly injected is somewhere around page three or four.

    As you probably know, the drilling corporations have obtained Federal exemption from the regulations forbidding people to dump that kind of stuff in wells near aquifers and water supplies, and are even allowed to keep secret what they are actually using.

    They needed these exemptions, because otherwise what they are doing would be felony level crime - it's a known risk to people's drinking water and the public watershed.

    If a Muslim jihadist stole a tanker of fracking compound and dumped it in a town's water supply, they would be charged with terrorism.
    Quote Originally Posted by ophiolite
    "The casing and cementing programs are part of the fracking process itself. "

    That's a darn peculiar way of putting it. That's rather like saying the drill bit is part of the rig floor because its connected to it via the drill string. In what way do you justify the statement?
    To me it's like saying installing a rig floor is part of the drilling process.

    And it seems to me deceptive to lay off the consequences of fracking on whatever support structure or vulnerable feature most often fails - we don't have those kinds of "casing" problems with sandpoint water wells.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    They aren't benign if they get into the drinking water aquifers. .
    Please provide a citation that supports this contention.
    EPA Report: Fracking Contaminated Drinking Water | Environmental Working Group


    And here:

    The price of gas: A Need to Know investigation | Need to Know

    NEED TO KNOW | The price of gas | PBS - YouTube
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  25. #24  
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    Quote Originally Posted by random View Post
    There's a hydrogen-to-methane process...not as efficient as we'd like, but if we lay on extra wind, wave, and solar, use that to make hydrogen, then use that to make methane...we have existing infrastructure to transport-to wit, the NG pipelines.

    Storing green electricity as natural gas

    "So far, we converted gas into electricity. Now we also think in the opposite direction, and convert electricity into 'real natural' gas," explains Dr. Michael Sterner of Fraunhofer IWES, who is investigating engineering aspects and energy system analysis of the process. "Surplus wind and solar energy can be stored in this manner.
    I know I'm a little bit late noticing this, but wow. That article is really helpful. Apparently electric-to-methane direct conversion isn't too far off the mark for efficiency, at least not for the process these German guys are using.

    Quote Originally Posted by sciencedaily.com
    ...adds Sterner. The efficiency of converting power to gas equals more than 60 percent. "In our opinion, this is definitely better than a total loss,"..."
    That's not bad.
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  26. #25  
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    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    As you probably know, the drilling corporations have obtained Federal exemption from the regulations forbidding people to dump that kind of stuff in wells near aquifers and water supplies, and are even allowed to keep secret what they are actually using.
    My field experience and subsequent second and third hand experience is primarily outside of the Americas and mainly offshore. The specifications I have looked at in the past were, in my view undesirable, but not likely to be seriously or permananetly damaging. I accept that this may not be true of all such fluids.

    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    And it seems to me deceptive to lay off the consequences of fracking on whatever support structure or vulnerable feature most often fails - we don't have those kinds of "casing" problems with sandpoint water wells.
    sorry. you are completely missing the point. Any contamination of the aquifers is a result of the failure of the casing and cementing program. The primary reason for conductor and surface casing is to protect aquifers. If the acquifers are contaminated then that is absolutely to be laid at the door of the design and implementation of the casing/cementing program.
    I have never previously heard the term sandpoint water wells, but assuming they are, well, water wells, why should they have an issue? Remember I have been talking about contamination of the aquifers by methane. If you have drilled for water and stopped in the acquifer, where would your methane conatamination come from? That's right. Nowhere, which is why you don't see it.
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  27. #26  
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    Ophiolite,
    I hope you won't be offended, but I think you are rather sanguine about this issue because it is not happening under your feet, and it is not your water supply that can be contaminated. If you were on this side of the pond, and read the reports I have (a few articles posted here have links, IIRC) you might have a different attitude.

    MW
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  28. #27  
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    Quote Originally Posted by MeteorWayne View Post
    Ophiolite,
    I hope you won't be offended, but I think you are rather sanguine about this issue because it is not happening under your feet, and it is not your water supply that can be contaminated. If you were on this side of the pond, and read the reports I have (a few articles posted here have links, IIRC) you might have a different attitude.

    MW
    Hi Meteor,
    I am not discounting the seriousness of the situation. Quite the reverse. I am stating that if the fraking process is seen as the culprit it will delay the implementation of a solution, since the problem - as I currently understand it - is improper casing and cementing. The composition of the fracture fluids is irrelevant, since even if they were distilled water they should not be reaching the aquifers. Nothign should be reaching the aquifers.
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  29. #28  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ophiolite
    sorry. you are completely missing the point. Any contamination of the aquifers is a result of the failure of the casing and cementing program. The primary reason for conductor and surface casing is to protect aquifers. If the acquifers are contaminated then that is absolutely to be laid at the door of the design and implementation of the casing/cementing program.
    I have never previously heard the term sandpoint water wells, but assuming they are, well, water wells, why should they have an issue?
    A sand point is a common drilling point or well bottom structure used to drive and hold open a shallow water well in my area (into water tables filled with glacial deposits, "sand") - often by hand, with a sledgehammer or related contrivance. The term is used for the well itself, informally - one "puts in a sand point" next to one's hunting cabin, as a serious upgrade and probable dwelling conversion.

    The observation is that the casing, etc, is not an issue with such wells. Casing failure and leakage from high pressure pulses and explosions or any other cause is not likely, and the consequences would not be serious. We don't have these kinds of casing problems and consequences until somebody is fracking - then we do.

    No one can dump fracking chemicals into any wells that traverse or communicate with an aquifer - even deep and solidly encased ones - except the specially exempt gas and oil drilling industry. Too risky. Casings can leak, etc.

    And they are just some of the several problems - the release of methane et al pressure upwards, toward the water table, is probably even more serious.
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