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How Well Do You Really Understand Fracking?
DailyFinance ^ | Feb 22nd 2014 | Karl Avard

Posted on 02/24/2014 4:58:18 AM PST by thackney

Many people have heard the term "fracking" and how it is the future of the U.S. economy, but know very little about what it actually entails. The motivations of the various sides in the debate, beyond bad vs. good for the environment, escape many of us. Companies specializing in these new methods, such as Chesapeake Energy , Devon Energy , and Anadarko Petroleum , are coming to the forefront of the energy industry. So what exactly is fracking??

The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the most effective and efficient way of releasing shale gas from the large number of deposits all over the United States. The process involves blasting a slurry of water, sand, and chemicals at high pressure through a pipe drilled deep in the ground, often a mile or greater within a layer of shale. This pulverized solid within a liquid behaves as a thick fluid and under the high pressure works into the cracks in the porous rock. This unlocks the trapped oil and gas, releasing it to flow back up the well pipe.

The debate

The question under examination is whether this process is dangerous or not. Like every natural resource or energy extraction process, there are a variety of environmental impacts to the operation. The one with the most potential impact and under the most stringent examination is whether or not the process contaminates the drinking water in the area where the fracking is being performed. On the one side are environmentalists and some scientists who insist that the gases and toxic chemicals that escape during the process find their way into the nearby aquifers located above the shale layer that provides the water supply..

The largest current study being done is by the Department of Environmental Protection. The study began in 2010 but will not be completed until 2016. It will likely play a large part in directing future federal policy and regulation toward this procedure. A similar study by the Department of Energy in Pennsylvania, one of the biggest potential gainers of this process, determined that the process had no effect on drinking water. Another study by Duke University found the opposite, that the drinking water near areas of fracking had higher levels of methane and ethane, two lethal pollutants. This suggested that the drilling has definitely affected the drinking water of residents in the area.

Public opinion

The decision of this study by the EPA will have far-reaching consequences, and as you might expect, the public is almost evenly divided, 49% opposed to 44% in favor according to a 2013 Pew Research study. In many instances, the decision about whether to drill or not will drastically enrich some constituents, while damaging others. In many situations, it is a question of "whose oxen will be gored," as leaders in various states, including the aforementioned Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland, hold off decisions on whether to proceed or not.

It may seem like much of the support is on the side of environmentalism and caution, but this is not the case in practice. In 2013, Illinois and California both passed legislation allowing the drilling, and Pennsylvania, Colorado, and North Dakota are at the beginning of a boom, relieving underperforming economies with the numerous jobs created by the abundant natural resources beneath the surface.

In many cases, the almighty dollar is deciding the answer to the "drill or not drill" question, like in California where a recent USC study suggested that drilling one of their largest shale deposits will bring a windfall of $25 billion in taxes and create 2.8 million jobs by 2020. In New York, a similar situation exists where job-starved upstate residents are pulling hard for fracking to rejuvenate the local economies with the jobs it will bring, while the more liberal and cosmopolitan city dwellers are vehemently opposed due to the lesser impact of the created jobs on their daily lives.

What does this mean for me?

Regardless of the environmental impact, states like North Dakota have already shown that it is exceedingly difficult for residents, especially those in depressed areas and tired of years of underperforming economies, to resist the siren song of a slew of new money and created jobs entering their area. The study by the EPA will certainly have an affect on whether to drill or not. However, it will not be a question of yes or no, but rather how much. Fracking is here to stay -- at least until new technology comes along. Leading drilling companies like Chesapeake, Devon, and Anadarko are looking like strong bets for the near future and beyond.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: energy; hydrofrac; naturalgas; oil

1 posted on 02/24/2014 4:58:18 AM PST by thackney
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To: thackney
Friend just went to a seminar. Regrets not signing the contract that was offered.

Has NOW decided that media is run by the Dems.

2 posted on 02/24/2014 5:07:27 AM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: thackney

Fracing has been around for a very long time, it is not something that just popped up to save us all.
That combined with directional drilling has been a savior of our oil industry


3 posted on 02/24/2014 5:08:23 AM PST by South Dakota (shut up and build a bakken pipe line)
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To: thackney

Fracking has been around since the 1920’s. 2 million fracks so far.


4 posted on 02/24/2014 5:10:11 AM PST by mfish13 (Elections have Consequences.)
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To: thackney

Having designed high pressure equipment for fracking systems, I think I might have a basic understanding of what’s involved.


5 posted on 02/24/2014 5:10:12 AM PST by BuffaloJack (Freedom isn't free; nor is it easy. END ALL TOTALITARIAN ACTIVITY NOW.)
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To: mfish13

And Hydraulic Fracturing since the late 1940s.


6 posted on 02/24/2014 5:11:34 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: BuffaloJack

Sadly, not enough voters have a basic understanding...


7 posted on 02/24/2014 5:12:40 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: BuffaloJack

Sadly, not enough voters have a basic understanding...


8 posted on 02/24/2014 5:12:40 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

If folks would listen to someone like Bill Wattenberg they would understand tracking very well


9 posted on 02/24/2014 5:17:01 AM PST by Nifster
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To: thackney

Every time I hear the word “fracking,” I think of the newer Battlestar Galactica.


10 posted on 02/24/2014 5:18:11 AM PST by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: thackney

They guys I know that are in the industry would say this author doesn’t know much either because it’s “fracing” (or “frac’ing”) not “fracking”.


11 posted on 02/24/2014 5:21:05 AM PST by al_c (Obama's standing in the world has fallen so much that Kenya now claims he was born in America.)
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To: al_c

To ignore the most commonly used name in public writing would be silly.

Even back in the 1990s, The Oil & Gas Journal referred to the process as Fracking.

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22MORE+PRUDHOE+GAS+HANDLING+CAPACITY+OKAYED%22+ogj.com&oq=%22MORE+PRUDHOE+GAS+HANDLING+CAPACITY+OKAYED%22+ogj.com&aqs=chrome..69i57.13841j0j4&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8


12 posted on 02/24/2014 5:24:35 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney
Another study by Duke University found the opposite, that the drinking water near areas of fracking had higher levels of methane and ethane, two lethal pollutants. This suggested that the drilling has definitely affected the drinking water of residents in the area.

As you know, there is a perfectly logical answer to this misleading finding.

Much of Pennsylvania is underlaid by coalbeds. There is such a thing as "coalbed methane" -- methane given of by and associated with coalbeds. These coalbeds -- and the associated methane -- are shallow and often within the water table. Ergo, methane and ethane were often found in Pennsylvania well water before fracking began.

Fracking is conducted in formations at depths well below the water table and where coalbed methane is found. Shale gas and coalbed methane are totally separate and unrelated deposits.

13 posted on 02/24/2014 5:30:40 AM PST by okie01 (The Mainstream Media -- IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
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To: thackney

Agreed ... but apparently that k drives a lot if them nuts.


14 posted on 02/24/2014 5:31:35 AM PST by al_c (Obama's standing in the world has fallen so much that Kenya now claims he was born in America.)
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To: al_c

I think it best to embrace the term rather than give environMENTALists power in using the term.


15 posted on 02/24/2014 5:32:39 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

A long time ago, my family had a drilled well, it suddenly started putting out less and less water, so my dad, this was back in the sixties, went to the hardware store and got a stick or two of dynamite.

He took the well cap off, attached a weight from an old window to the stick of dynamite with a three foot cord, lite it, dropped it into the well, and a few minutes after the explosion, around 150 feet or so down, we had more water than we knew what to do with.

My dad was fracking well before the word fracking was ever used. And he was not alone.

Today, thanks to the BATF, the EPA, the FBi, and a bunch of other federal know it alls, frackin a well is no longer an option cause you can’t buy dynamite.

I was talking to a preacher yesterday, we were talking about federal intrusions into our lives, he said; “______ there is a special place in hell for bureaucrats.”

I agree with him, God has to have a special place of torment reserved for the pond scum who have ruined our country and our lives, under the color of law.


16 posted on 02/24/2014 5:38:10 AM PST by The_Republic_Of_Maine (Be kept informed on Maine's secession, sign up at freemaine@hushmail.com)
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To: The_Republic_Of_Maine
He took the well cap off, attached a weight from an old window

I know I'm distracting from your story, but did your Dad put a large hunk of lead in your family water well?

17 posted on 02/24/2014 5:40:28 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

Obviously, the majority of US voters don’t understand much of anything.


18 posted on 02/24/2014 5:42:57 AM PST by The_Media_never_lie (The media must be defeated any way it can be done.)
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To: The_Republic_Of_Maine

For your info, your Dad was following a long established practice.

Fracturing can be traced to the 1860s, when liquid (and later, solidified) nitroglycerin (NG) was used to stimulate shallow, hard rock wells in Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

http://www.spe.org/jpt/print/archives/2010/12/10Hydraulic.pdf


19 posted on 02/24/2014 5:44:37 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney

Window weights are generally cast iron, but even if it were lead, it won’t do a damn thing to water quality, as elemental lead in that form is nearly insoluble in fresh water.


20 posted on 02/24/2014 5:45:17 AM PST by Travis T. OJustice (I miss you, dad. :()
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To: thackney

:: did your Dad put a large hunk of lead in your family water well? ::

Sounds like he also “pulverized” that hunk of lead.


21 posted on 02/24/2014 5:50:49 AM PST by Cletus.D.Yokel (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Climate Alterations: The acronym defines the science.)
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To: BuffaloJack

Being a highly technical engineer-type, I’ve always wondered what the actual pressures are in fracking for gas?

We had a dry well fracked successfully, but that only took a small 3,000 lbs/psi.


22 posted on 02/24/2014 6:11:00 AM PST by Arlis
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To: thackney

Add jobs, improve the economy, and become an energy self-sufficient nation?

Or continue to be beholden to those who want us dead?

Hmmm.....


23 posted on 02/24/2014 6:18:34 AM PST by privatedrive
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To: okie01
As you know, there is a perfectly logical answer to this misleading finding.

I like to tell the anti-fracking crowd to do an internet search for towns named "burning springs".

24 posted on 02/24/2014 6:24:38 AM PST by jdsteel (Give me freedom, not more government.)
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To: thackney

” Dad put a large hunk of lead in your family water well?”

Nope, it was made out of cast iron. We have always been into reloading and making our own bullets for target practice, so using lead as a weight would been out of the question.


25 posted on 02/24/2014 6:52:24 AM PST by The_Republic_Of_Maine (Be kept informed on Maine's secession, sign up at freemaine@hushmail.com)
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To: thackney

I didn’t know about using nitro, but I did know that my grandfather used the dynamite technique long before I was born.


26 posted on 02/24/2014 6:52:24 AM PST by The_Republic_Of_Maine (Be kept informed on Maine's secession, sign up at freemaine@hushmail.com)
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To: The_Republic_Of_Maine

Dynamite is based on nitroglycerin.


27 posted on 02/24/2014 6:55:07 AM PST by thackney (life is fragile, handle with prayer)
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To: thackney
The process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the most effective and efficient way of releasing shale gas from the large number of deposits all over the United States. The >B>process involves blasting a slurry of water, sand, and chemicals at high pressure through a pipe drilled deep in the ground, often a mile or greater within a layer of shale.

Can someone explain the validity of laws on 'low flush' toilets again...

28 posted on 02/24/2014 7:13:12 AM PST by GOPJ ("Great powers are driven by a mixture of confidence and insecurity.")
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To: Arlis

Don’t know, but a column of merely static liquid over a mile high would express one helluva pressure at the bottom.


29 posted on 02/24/2014 8:52:24 AM PST by SgtHooper (If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.)
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To: SgtHooper

You got that right!


30 posted on 02/24/2014 10:30:53 AM PST by Arlis
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To: SgtHooper

BUT, as the mass of rock is many times more than the mass of water, at any given depth, the pressure on the rock should be the same multiple of rock to water.......

I.e., wouldn’t the rock pressure a mile deep be greater than the water pressure in the ocean a mile deep?

Yes, but only if the rock were a liquid. As it is a solid, the pressure is probably nil at any given point, being distributed over a huge volume.

Have to ask my structural engineer son......I’m electrical......


31 posted on 02/24/2014 10:34:13 AM PST by Arlis
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To: thackney

For those who want to see a 6 minute video showing how horizontal drilling and fracking is done, Northern Gas and Oil has done a great one.

It includes a visual piece on how fresh water aquifers are protected from contamination.

http://www.northernoil.com/drilling-video

Knowledge is power, keep the link and pass it on.


32 posted on 02/24/2014 10:43:03 AM PST by Balding_Eagle (Over production, one of the top 5 worries for the American Farmer every year.)
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To: Arlis

In the absence of tectonic forces, Pressure to maintain an open vertical fracture the rock, (PR/(1-PR))X(Sig V - Pres) + Pres

where PR = poissons ratio of material = lateral strain/longitudinal strain under longitudinal applied stress. about 0.15 to 0.25 for hard sedimentary sandstone reservoir rock, higher for limestone and shale.
Sig V = vertical stress, aka overburden. basically pressure exerted by overlying rock. 1.1 to 1.15 psi/ft
Pres = Pressure in the reservoir pore space, normal is 0.43 to 0.45 psi/ft, water gradient

it gets more complicated for laminated rocks, grains laid out more like plywood than bound spheres in a sandstone or silt matrix. one must apply variability of horizontal properties (parallel to bedding) and vertical properties (perpendicular to bedding). you can get close on the low side with general isotropic equation above.

induced fractures are almost always vertical, as the horizontal stresses in the earth are almost always less than overburden. Vertical growth stops when layers with stress higher than is within the fracture is encountered. you can build pressure in the fractures exceeding frac pressure which induces greater width. generally extending fracture length is the easier path than creating large widths. widths are on the order of 0.05 to 0.25 inch.

breakdown pressure, necessary to get a fracture started is higher than fracture pressure. usually by a factor of 1.1 to 1.4

so without spending a million or ten acquiring data, usually around 0.55 to 0.80 psi/ft (vertical feet depth)plus all the friction getting the fluid down there. 5000 psi in shallow basins is common (8000’ or less) 10,000 in deeper basins and 12,000+ psi in deep basis with high reservoir pressure. Fracs have been done over 20,000 psi at surface, but rare. the 3000 psi job mentioned was probably on what’s nicknamed a post hole, under 3000’ deep.


33 posted on 02/24/2014 7:58:00 PM PST by EERinOK
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To: Arlis

Haha, me too, but I also took strengths of materials and fluids. But that was back...way back! You raise good points. I guess the liquid needs to be forced into the cracks to further fracture the rock. The solids prolly don’t harbor any gas anyway, so who cares. It’s in those pesky cracks.


34 posted on 02/24/2014 8:21:04 PM PST by SgtHooper (If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.)
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To: EERinOK

Wow! Thank you. The math surprisingly simple, but I get the drift.

News to me: fractures are mostly vertical , I thought they were mostly horizontal. And the pressures -even at 20k lbs./psi - are far below what I thought were required.

Isn’t fracking done in granite too? What is the PR for granite?


35 posted on 02/25/2014 12:18:28 AM PST by Arlis
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To: Arlis

Granite PR is probably around 0.2. not tolerating a lot of bend before it snaps.

there have been be instances of frac’ing granite, but not like in the simple planar fracturing sense. What would be the use? It’s very low porosity and can’t store much or any reservoir fluids. There are rare hydrocarbon deposits seeped out of sedimentary source rocks above or alongside granite. In order to store hydrocarbons, or water in geothermal heat operation, the granite must have a naturally fractured secondary porosity and permeability system in place. Granite formation frac jobs are really just injection to sweep reservoir damage from drilling out away from the wellbore. There may occur induced fracture components in the process, but likely not the main objective.


36 posted on 02/25/2014 5:54:46 AM PST by EERinOK
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To: EERinOK

Though I did teach science once upon a life, what I don’t know about geology would fill half the universe.

But I do know enough to understand what you are saying - it only makes sense. I know nothing of the geology of where oil and gas are, except for hearing the word “sands” a few times.

Thanks again!


37 posted on 02/25/2014 6:01:39 AM PST by Arlis
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To: Yo-Yo; thackney

Fracking. What could be better?

38 posted on 02/25/2014 6:08:35 AM PST by Lakeshark (Mr Reid, tear down this law!)
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To: thackney

Bfl


39 posted on 02/25/2014 9:41:26 AM PST by gaijin
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bkmk


40 posted on 02/26/2014 8:48:15 AM PST by AllAmericanGirl44
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