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Open letter to the members of the 31st Dáil Éireann. Hydraulic Shale Gas Fracturing - Tamborans claims - Chemicals involved in the fracking procedure
Bogus claims on recoverable reserves used to try and get political support
I like to point out that there is also a difference between proven resource and what is actually viably recoverable as explained in Aeberman's survey, A Perspective on Future U.S. Natural Gas Supply and Price http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8914
Today I want to discuss the *chemicals involved in the fracking process and what compunds are released into the environment*
We can read that Fracturing natural gas wells requires hundreds of tons of chemical liquids http://www.ohio.com/news/local-news/fracturing-natural-gas-wells-requires-hundreds-of-tons-of-chemical-liquids-1.264478 and a study that Fracking Chemicals Are Killing And Neutering Pets And Farm Animals http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-02-09/markets/31040481_1_natural-gas-fracking-drillers and much more http://www.ernstversusencana.ca/news-multimedia/cbm-frac-news We can also watch a documentary called Gasland http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/ which won seven awards and got nominated for two more awards [* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasland#Awards]. The petroleum industry has constantly been trying to discredit this documentary of Josh Fox. Please read Affirming Gasland http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/whats-fracking/affirming-gasland which I also have attached, and watch the interview below.
Watch video on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GInzvqCpO2U
Now, surprisingly, a week ago, Tamboran CEO, Mr Richard Moorman contacted me by email. So I could ask him which chemicals would be used in the fracking process. Here an excerpt of his reply:
"we have repeatedly stated that we will not be utilising any
chemicals in hydraulic fracturing. We made that commitment in August
following completion of our initial hydraulic fracturing design.
Mr Moorman pointed out that this involves solely the fracturing itself, not the drilling. So I asked him which chemicals would be used for the drilling process. Unfortunately Mr Moorman has not answered this question until present day.
As I'm not an expert on this subject I forwarded Richard Moorma's claims to several authorities who are capable of formidable expertise in this area. My questions were simple and always the same:
Rob Jackson, Department of Biology and Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University:
"A lack of chemical in fracturing fluids does not mean that issues with waste water vanish. I haven't worked in your specific area, but produced waters are usually briny (often much saltier than sea water) and can contain low-level radioactivity and other elements that pose a potential health hazard, such as arsenic and barium.
A. R. Ingraffea, Ph.D., P.E., Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering, Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow, Cornell University:
"Please see my responses in UPPER CASE BELOW, EMBEDDED WITHIN YOUR EMAIL TO ME, AND MOORMAN'S EMAIL TO YOU.
Richard A. Liroff, Ph.D., Executive Director, Investor Environmental Health Network, Falls Church:
"I first saw this claim last year and so I asked an acquaintance of mine in the energy industry what he thought of it. Here's his reply:1. Cutting out the friction reducer means lower rates or much higher cost for the larger pipe, longer drilling time for more wells rather than less wells, higher air emissions from more horsepower. If they just reduce rates, they will find their shale wells will not be as productive. Hence their economics will be more risky.I am aware that there is a firm that has proposed using propane for fracking, but this raises questions about handling this explosive material. Perhaps this is what Tamboran has in mind. Certainly Tamboran should be pressed for details. See: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/22/us-shale-propane-idUSTRE7AL1ML20111122 As for your question about the chemicals that come up in the "produced water". They will vary, but certainly they are extremely salty and they may contain naturally occurring toxic organic chemicals like benzene.
Robert Oswald, Department of Molecular Medicine, Cornell University:
"First, at least in the Marcellus shale, the substances liberated from the shale can be as toxic or more toxic than the hydraulic fracturing fluid. So even if only water and sand are used for fracturing, they may still end up with a lot of toxic material on the surface. It does not go away if they recycle. Recycling just decreases the amount of water used. They still have to dispose of the heavy metals and radioactivity. Volatile organics will vent at least in part to the atmosphere. The other issue is the depth of the formation relative to your aquifer. We are told that they are so far below the aquifer in the Marcellus shale, there cannot possibly be a problem. This is, of course, nonsense, but shallow drilling brings up the problem of a high likelihood of the fractures communicating with the aquifer. Industry publications suggests that fractures can be up to 600 meters or so (most are much smaller). I am told that drilling in our area probably won't occur when the shale is 700 meters or shallower for safety reasons. Finally, I have have been told by at least two people who spent many years in the industry that no matter how good the casing is, channels can form on the outside of the well and methane can migrate to aquifers. A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, suggested that this is fairly common, and the former industry people tell me that that is their experience as well. One final question that might be good to ask them relates to the fact that they have not drilled any wells yet. Are they going to stick to the promise of not using any hydraulic fracturing chemicals if they find they have problems with just water and sand? Are they even going to tell anyone if they change their mind? These are things that should be written into regulations and rigorously enforced."
Mr Oswald also sent me the peer-reviewed study, Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing http://www.pnas.org/content/108/20/8172.full by Stephen G. Osborn et al, which I attached. This study comes to the conclusion:
"Methane concentrations were detected generally in 51 of 60 drinking-water wells (85%) across the region, regardless of gas industry operations, but concentrations were substantially higher closer to natural-gas wells. Methane concentrations were 17-times higher on average (19.2 mg CH4 L-1) in shallow wells from active drilling and extraction areas than in wells from nonactive areas."
And he forwarded me an article of The American Oil and Gas Reporter, Data Confirm Safety Of Well Fracturing http://www.halliburton.com/public/pe/contents/Papers_and_Articles/web/A_through_P/AOGR%20Article-%20Data%20Prove%20Safety%20of%20Frac.pdf (attached) with the note:
"The enclosed article might be of some use to you. Have a look at Figure 1 and then displace the lower curve up to 1000m. The process no longer looks as safe as they are trying to portray."
Lou Allstadt, Executive Vice President of Mobile Oil Corporation responsible for exploration and production in the US, Canada and Latin America. Previously, he headed Mobil's worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations. He is a member of the US Oil and Gas Association:
"The claims of fracking without chemicals make no sense. Also, the comment about "200 psi higher injection pressure" is not clear. Higher than what? Typical fracking pressures are very very roughly 1psi per foot of depth or 3psi per meter of depth. I would be particularly concerned about drilling, fracking and producing gas at shallow depths of 1000 meter as mentioned. There is US industry and Environmental Protection Agency data indicating fracks extending well outside their target zones. Even if fracking fluid does not reach a drinking water aquifer there is a greater likely hood of methane migrating to aquifers from shallow wells. The fracking process, even if it could be done with no chemicals will bring up whatever chemicals are in the target zone that is fracked. In the US shale areas along with brine these include, heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, barium, etc. as well as radioactive material that typically occurs in shales (the shale layers are identifiable by their radioactivity).
A Case History of Tracking Water Movement Through Fracture Systems in the Barnett Shale http://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/acasehistoryoftrackingwatermovementthroughfracturesystemsinthebarnettshale.pdf published by the US EPA http://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/wellconstructworkshop.html comes to following conclusion:
"Even with the tools available to perform fracture diagnostics operators are still faced with challenges that are difficult to predict. As well density increases it becomes increasingly probable that wells will communicate either through previously created fractures or through adjacent wellbores and then into previously created fractures."
The regulator in British Columbia, Canada, puts out fracking safety advisory http://www.bcogc.ca/document.aspx?documentID=808&type=.pdf where we can read the industry admitting:
"Fracture propagation via large scale hydraulic fracturing operations has proven difficult to predict. Existing planes of weakness in target formations may result in fracture lengths that exceed initial design expectations."
One might think that Germany is one of the countries with tough regulations. Now the first German public channel, ARD, publishes a report that in the gas fields of northern Germany, formation fluid is carried via a network of underground pipes to a disposal reservoir. It's a closed loop system. In spite of that, an alleged cancer cluster in the rural communities located above these pipelines prompted soil testing which found impressively high levels of benzene. The pipes are made of heavy duty plastic and do not appear to be corroding or leaking. The tentative explanation is that benzene and other hydrocarbons are actually diffusing through the plastic pipe itself. It's possible that industry had prior knowledge that these plastic materials allow for the diffusion of lightweight hydrocarbons, and that revelation is now part of the scandal. Here below is the English-subtitled video.
Watch video on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGtqn1eUDRI
TEDX (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc.) comes to these conclusions in the US:
"As natural gas production rapidly increases across the U.S., its associated pollution has reached the stage where it is contaminating essential life support systems - water, air, and soil - and causing harm to the health of humans, wildlife, domestic animals, and vegetation. This project was designed to explore the health effects of products and chemicals used in drilling, fracturing (frac'ing, or stimulation), recovery and delivery of natural gas. It provides a glimpse at the pattern(s) of possible health hazards posed by the chemicals being used. There are hundreds of products in current use, the components of which are, in many cases, unavailable for public scrutiny and for which we have information only on a small percentage.
Not only does Tamboran vastly exaggerate the recoverable gas reserves in the Laugh Allen Basin, they are also fallaciously playing down risks in connection with chemicals which are inevitably released at the fracking procedure and which are likely to cause catastrophic harm to environment and livelihood. Tamboran can obviously neither provide any former project which would show reputable and responsible handling of hydraulic shale gas fracturing, nor can they produce any former project where fracking would have been done without any chemicals.
Many toxic, carcinogenic and radioactive chemicals are bound in the shale which are being released due to the fracking process. Some of these chemicals are so volatile that they cannot be handled safely. Groundwater contaminations are an inevitable result of hydraulic shale gas fracturing, appearing in many countries, at countless locations. As groundwaters are subterraneously connected, fracking poses a threat to very wide areas. These impacts are not locally and not narrowed.
/(Source: Queen's University Belfast http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/WelcometoSustainableDevelopmentatQueens/RelatedResearch/HydrogeologyofPoorlyProductiveAquifers/ )/
The risks involving fracking vastly outbalance any expectable benefits this technology could generate for the Irish people.
*Recommendations* The EU Parliament study, Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and on human heath http://europeecologie.eu/IMG/pdf/shale-gas-pe-464-425-final.pdf, comes to the following conclusion:
"Even an aggressive development of gas shales in Europe could only contribute to the European gas supplies at one-digit percentage share at best. It will not reverse the continuing trend of declining domestic production and rising import dependency. Its influence on the European greenhouse gas emissions will remain small if not negligible, or could even be negative if other more promising projects are skipped due to wrong incentives and signals."
A moratorium on any hydraulic shale gas fracturing exploration should be implemented immediately in Ireland.
As we cannot expect that Tamboran will deliver any adequate and reliable prognoses, this company should not be granted any further permission to explore for shale gas drilling.
The unanimous decision of five County Councils and several Town Councils to call for a ban on fracking shall no more be ignored by the Irish government, in particular by the ministers in charge (Open letter to Minister Pat Rabbitte concerning hydraulic gas fracturing ("fracking") in Ireland https://sites.google.com/site/frackingireland/open-letter-to-minister-pat-rabbitte-concerning-hydraulic-gas-fracturing-fracking-in-ireland
and FRACKING ROW: COUNCIL HAS NO POWER TO BAN IT http://www.donegaldaily.com/2012/01/19/fracking-row-council-has-no-power-to-ban-it/ ).
Thank you very much for your attention.
This open letter has also been published on the web page, https://sites.google.com/site/frackingireland/open-letter-to-the-members-of-the-31st-dail-eireann-hydraulic-shale-gas-fracturing---tamborans-claims---chemicals-involved-in-the-fracking-procedure