• 20 mins Trader Trafigura Raises Share Of Oil Purchases From State Firms
  • 2 hours German Energy Group Uniper Rejects $9B Finnish Takeover Bid
  • 3 hours Total Could Lose Big If It Pulls Out Of South Pars Deal
  • 5 hours Dakota Watchdog Warns It Could Revoke Keystone XL Approval
  • 22 hours Oil Prices Rise After API Reports Major Crude Draw
  • 23 hours Citgo President And 5 VPs Arrested On Embezzlement Charges
  • 23 hours Gazprom Speaks Out Against OPEC Production Cut Extension
  • 24 hours Statoil Looks To Lighter Oil To Boost Profitability
  • 1 day Oil Billionaire Becomes Wind Energy’s Top Influencer
  • 1 day Transneft Warns Urals Oil Quality Reaching Critical Levels
  • 1 day Whitefish Energy Suspends Work In Puerto Rico
  • 1 day U.S. Authorities Arrest Two On Major Energy Corruption Scheme
  • 2 days Thanksgiving Gas Prices At 3-Year High
  • 2 days Iraq’s Giant Majnoon Oilfield Attracts Attention Of Supermajors
  • 2 days South Iraq Oil Exports Close To Record High To Offset Kirkuk Drop
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Find Mass Graves In Oil Wells Near Kirkuk
  • 2 days Chevron Joint Venture Signs $1.7B Oil, Gas Deal In Nigeria
  • 2 days Iraq Steps In To Offset Falling Venezuela Oil Production
  • 2 days ConocoPhillips Sets Price Ceiling For New Projects
  • 5 days Shell Oil Trading Head Steps Down After 29 Years
  • 5 days Higher Oil Prices Reduce North American Oil Bankruptcies
  • 5 days Statoil To Boost Exploration Drilling Offshore Norway In 2018
  • 5 days $1.6 Billion Canadian-US Hydropower Project Approved
  • 5 days Venezuela Officially In Default
  • 5 days Iran Prepares To Export LNG To Boost Trade Relations
  • 5 days Keystone Pipeline Leaks 5,000 Barrels Into Farmland
  • 5 days Saudi Oil Minister: Markets Will Not Rebalance By March
  • 6 days Obscure Dutch Firm Wins Venezuelan Oil Block As Debt Tensions Mount
  • 6 days Rosneft Announces Completion Of World’s Longest Well
  • 6 days Ecuador Won’t Ask Exemption From OPEC Oil Production Cuts
  • 6 days Norway’s $1 Trillion Wealth Fund Proposes To Ditch Oil Stocks
  • 6 days Ecuador Seeks To Clear Schlumberger Debt By End-November
  • 6 days Santos Admits It Rejected $7.2B Takeover Bid
  • 6 days U.S. Senate Panel Votes To Open Alaskan Refuge To Drilling
  • 7 days Africa’s Richest Woman Fired From Sonangol
  • 7 days Oil And Gas M&A Deal Appetite Highest Since 2013
  • 7 days Russian Hackers Target British Energy Industry
  • 7 days Venezuela Signs $3.15B Debt Restructuring Deal With Russia
  • 7 days DOJ: Protestors Interfering With Pipeline Construction Will Be Prosecuted
  • 7 days Lower Oil Prices Benefit European Refiners
Alt Text

The Wireless Power Grid: More Than A 100 Years In The Making

In fulfilling Nikola Tesla’s dreams,…

Alt Text

Are Electric Cars As Clean As They Seem?

Electric cars are set to…

Alt Text

The U.S. Export Boom Goes Beyond Crude

While U.S. crude oil exports…

John Daly

John Daly

Dr. John C.K. Daly is the chief analyst for Oilprice.com, Dr. Daly received his Ph.D. in 1986 from the School of Slavonic and East European…

More Info

Upcoming UGGS Fracking Report Game Changer?

Upcoming UGGS Fracking Report Game Changer?

There is currently no more contested U.S. energy initiative than to pen up the country’s vast potential reserves of natural gas by utilizing the “hydraulic fracturing” technique, more familiarly known as “fracking.”

To its proponents, fracking offers a way out of U.S. dependence on foreign energy imports, and is relatively environmentally benign.

To opponents of the technique, it not only has the potential to pollute underground water reserves, but leads to an increased possibility of earthquakes, as the injection of massive amounts of water underground along with chemical mixtures which the industry is fighting to not disclose increase the possibility of seismic activity.

Now, the federal U.S. Geological Survey has reluctantly waded into the debate, with a USGS research team saying in a just released abstract of an upcoming study that a remarkable increase in earthquake occurrence in the U.S. in the Midwestern region of the country, from Alabama to the Northern Rockies in the past decade is “almost certainly man-made.”

The full study will be presented at the upcoming annual meeting of the Seismological Society of America later this month. The el Cerrito, California-based Seismological Society of America, which describes itself as “an international scientific society devoted to the advancement of seismology and its applications in understanding and mitigating earthquake hazards and in imaging the structure of the earth.”

The USGS study acknowledges "a remarkable increase in the rate of (magnitude 3.0) and greater earthquakes" in the United States, noting, "While the seismicity rate changes described here are almost certainly manmade, it remains to be determined how they are related to either changes in extraction methodologies or the rate of oil and gas production," avoiding drawing an explicit link to oil and gas production activities as the sole causal event in the increased appearance of earthquakes in areas subjected to fracking. The study scrutinized an increase in annual recorded earthquakes from 1.2 per year in the past 50 years to more than 25 per year since 2009, noting, "A naturally-occurring rate change of this magnitude is unprecedented outside of volcanic settings or in the absence of a main shock, of which there were neither in this region."

That said, the abstract notes, "The acceleration in activity that began in 2009 appears to involve a combination of source regions of oil and gas production, including the Guy, Arkansas region, and in central and southern Oklahoma. Horton, et al. (2012) provided strong evidence linking the Guy, AK, activity to deep waste water injection wells." The research team led by USGS geophysicist William Ellsworth noted however the frequency of earthquakes in areas subjected to fracking natural gas extraction techniques began rising in 2001 across a broad swath of the country between Alabama and Montana and culminated “in a six-fold increase over 20th century levels in 2011.”

In the absence of federal guidelines on fracking, a number of states have moved their own legislation to cope with the issues raised by the technique. A recent series of earthquakes in north-eastern Ohio, most recently on New Year's Eve, prompted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to suspend development by natural gas drillers of five deep wastewater disposal wells, while Arkansas imposed a permanent moratorium on disposal wells due to enhanced seismic activity near the Fayetteville Shale deposit.

So, what are fracking opponents up against? Rising production of natural gas produced from fracking, much of it in economically depressed areas. According to the federal Energy Information Administration, from 2006 to 2010, U.S. shale gas production growth averaged nearly 50 percent annually. The nationwide surge in shale drilling requires disposal of millions of gallons of wastewater for each well and the fracking industry has resisted all call to disclose the nature of the chemicals involved in the injection process, but which a number of independent studies have determined include a number of known carginogens.

While predicting the future is a murky business at best, expect a full blown counterattack by the shale gas industry prior to the presentation of the full USGS study.

For the past few months natural gas advocates, notably America's Natural Gas Alliance have launched a massive advertising television campaign to convince Americans that shale natural gas production is not only environmentally benign, but an asset to U.S. national energy security, stung by such negative publicity as the 2010 “Gasland” documentary, decrying opponents as radical environmentalists while establishing new “facts on the ground” by ramping up production in economically depressed areas as quickly as possible to insinuate the industry into local tax bases that politicians would be loath to take on..

It will prove far harder to tar the USGS, a branch of the federal government with such charges, and if a more than incidental link between fracking an increased seismic activity is established by the federal government, then the shale gas industry might better prepare itself for increased federal scrutiny than continue to churn out disingenuous advertising blurring the real issues involved in shale gas production.

Worse may be to follow for ANGA and its supporters. Now Hollywood is apparently poised to wade into the fracking debate, as Matt Damon is scheduled to star in an anti-fracking film, "The Promised Land," an "anti-fracking movie." Despite being regarded as a bastion of liberal thinking, Hollywood productions have influenced energy debates in the past – remember the 1983 film “Silkwood” about skullduggery in the U.S. nuclear power industry, or 1979’s “The China Syndrome?”

Perhaps ANGA should have spread a few more dollars around Tinseltown than prime time networks.

By. John C.K. Daly of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • anonymous on April 12 2012 said:
    Its always wiser to study a situation rather than simply jump ahead for the love of money or oil. The undersea nuclear explosion that shattered the gulf sea floor which preempted the oil spill, has also injected water into the AK formation increasing its steam pressures which should finally give way around the end of 2017. This event alone could disrupt the transportation of all material above and below ground for an extended period of time. And to negate its possibility, is as foolish as trying to regain your oil independence in an area where it was formerly lost.
  • ptosis on April 13 2012 said:
    Since the 1970's, China has injected water into depleting oil fields to keep the "natural" pressure up in the oil reservoir for extracting more oil, "Earthquakes induced by water injection have occurred in four oil fields" - http://voices.yahoo.com/synthetic-earthquakes-5893136.html
  • WestHoustonGeo on April 14 2012 said:
    Quite frankly, the anti hydraulic fracturing movement is so full of boloney that it would be funny, if not for the economic disaster they are precipitating. Watch this video for a little education about the subject:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxClOuEPipU&list=HL1334429602&feature=mh_lolz

Leave a comment




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