WTI Crude


Brent Crude


Natural Gas




Heating Oil


Rotate device for more commodity prices

Alt Text

Is Clean Coal An Option For India?

In spite of the Indian…

Study Reveals Fracking Does Contaminate Groundwater with Methane

A study has been undertaken by Duke University of methane levels in water from 68 private wells above the Marcellus and Utica shales in Pennsylvania and New York. The details have just been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2011/05/02/1100682108.full.pdf+html. Of these, around one third were in an "active extraction area", which by definition is within one kilometre of a gas well, the remainder being more distant.

The results of the study are striking: in all but one case, making 15 altogether, it is only within 800 metres of a gas-well that levels of methane are high enough (10 - 28 mg/L) to merit warning of the occupants and prudent remediation down to levels < 10 mg/L, according to the US Office of the Interior, or above 28 mg/L at which point "potentially explosive or flammable quantities of the gas are being liberated in the well and/or may be liberated in confined areas of the home," which requires immediate mitigation. http://arblast.osmre.gov/downloads/Mine%20Gases%20and%20Dust/FINAL-Methane.pdf

In this particular study, no evidence for fracking fluid finding its way into the groundwater was found nor for intrusion from deep saline brines into aquifers closer to the surface. According to an isotopic analysis, the excess methane is consistent as originating from deeper thermogenic sediments, rather than being produced biologically in near surface environments.

Although more work is clearly necessary to establish absolutely and ubiquitously that fracking contaminates near proximate drinking water by methane in dangerous amounts, it appears that there is a significant and urgent human safety issue to be addressed.

By. Professor Chris Rhodes

Professor Chris Rhodes is a writer and researcher. He studied chemistry at Sussex University, earning both a B.Sc and a Doctoral degree (D.Phil.); rising to become the youngest professor of physical chemistry in the U.K. at the age of 34.
A prolific author, Chris has published more than 400 research and popular science articles (some in national newspapers: The Independent and The Daily Telegraph)
He has recently published his first novel, "University Shambles" was published in April 2009 (Melrose Books).

Back to homepage

Leave a comment
  • Anonymous on May 11 2011 said:
    This study does not say that. In fact it specifically says: "Methane migration through the 1- to 2-km-thick geologicalformations that overlie the Marcellus and Utica shales is less likely as a mechanism for methane contamination than leaky wellcasings"And as you pointed out, "no evidence for fracking fluid finding its way into the groundwater was found nor for intrusion from deep saline brines"So in fact, the study does not say "fracking does contaminate groundwater with methane"
  • Anonymous on May 12 2011 said:
    How can they allow the owners of these water wells to steal natural gas from the legitimate lease holders and gas companies? It is an outrage of the highest order. :eek: At least well owners are not stealing valuable fracking fluids! :roll: On the other hand, no one knows what the health effects -- if any -- these levels of methane in water represent. Therefore I recommend that everyone immediately panic and demand that all governments shut down all oil, gas, coal, and nuclear energy within their countries.Because reliable energy is risky, and even a little risk which we do not understand is far too much risk to tolerate.
  • Anonymous on May 14 2011 said:
    In France they seem to be deciding that fracking is dangerous, and it is being discouraged. Of course they have this option because they don't need it: they have nuclear, and they will eventually add to the amount they possess.As for gas, if that is needed, it can be supplied by somebody else - somebody with a need for cash that allows them to take a few extra chances. I don't see any problem here. A shortage of that long green drove me back into the army, where I thrived, but many others found that option uncomfortable after a while.

Leave a comment

Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News