Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Gas Wells Are Not Our Friends" - Excellent Web Site

Here is an excellent site, Gas Wells Are Not Our Friends, with a lot of critical information on hydrofracking, to which I return frequently. The blogger has a home in northeastern Pennsylvania and is witnessing the destruction of her beloved region. She keeps the site up to date with public presentation announcements, local and state news and personal commentary.

She named her site in response to lawn signs one sees around the rural countryside in northeastern PA and southern NY that read "Friends of Natural Gas."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Halliburton: One Shoddy Piece of Work Among Many Revealed in Today's BP Study

This is a small piece of the investigation BP paid for and published today on the Deepwater Horizon disaster, pp. 57-60. (bold is mine) It speaks for itself.

Slurry Testing on Halliburton Products
The cement components were stocked on Deepwater Horizon. Halliburton shipped samples of those components to its laboratory in advance of the date on which the components were used for the Macondo well.  

Halliburton retained surplus samples from the testing program. However, the investigation team was unable to acquire and test these actual cement samples from the rig due to a court-ordered injunction on Halliburton to preserve this material. At the time this report was written, Halliburton had declined the investigation team’s requests for equivalent samples of the cement components used on the rig. The investigation team was, therefore, unable to conduct any lab testing using Halliburton products. The only sources for data derived from rig-sourced components are the lab test reports received from Halliburton. (Refer to Appendix J. Halliburton Lab Results - #73909/2.)

Evaluation of Halliburton Lab Test Results
The investigation team reviewed Halliburton laboratory test results dated April 12, 2010, and noted several discrepancies, as follows:

**Halliburton indicated in subsequent correspondence that this April 12, 2010, document reported results of slurry tests conducted on April 18, 2010.

**The report did not include testing for fluid loss, free water, foam/spacer/mud compatibility, static gel strength transition time, zero gel time or settlement. Testing for these parameters is commonly provided.

**Some of the data provided appeared to pre-date the April 18, 2010, slurry testing. 

At the time this report was written, the investigation team was unable to reconcile these discrepancies with Halliburton

After the accident, the investigation team contracted a third party cementing lab (CSI Technologies) to evaluate Halliburton’s lab reports and to conduct tests on representative cement products and additives. The purpose of this effort was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Halliburton cement slurry design....

Analysis—Cement Design
The investigation team identified that:

**The Halliburton lab tests on nitrified foam cement slurry had insufficient, non-representative nitrogen volume.

**The nitrified foam cement slurry tested and recommended by Halliburton had an abnormally low yield point.

**A defoamer additive was used in the nitrified foam cement slurry and could potentially destabilize a foamed slurry.

**The cement design did not include a fluid loss additive. It is established practice to control fluid loss in cement slurries that are placed across hydrocarbon zones.

**CSI Technologies could not generate stable nitrified foam slurry with a foam quality representative of, although not identical to, that used in the Macondo well.

Based on consideration of the properties and testing of the nitrified foam cement slurry used in the Macondo well, and on CSI Technologies’ lab results and analysis, the investigation team concluded that the nitrified foam cement slurry used in the Macondo
well probably experienced nitrogen breakout, nitrogen migration and incorrect cement density. This would explain the failure to achieve zonal isolation of hydrocarbons. Nitrogen breakout and migration would have also contaminated the shoe track cement and may have caused the shoe track cement barrier to fail.

Halliburton is a major player in the horizontal gas drilling business, and they are ruthlessly greedy. We don't want them in New York State. The damage they have already been a part to in Pennsylvania is horrific. They are dangerous and deceitful. 

We do not want them in our back yard tinkering with our water. Ever.

Never forget for even a moment the "Dick" Cheney connection.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Don't Drink the Water

Feds Warn Residents Near Wyoming Gas Drilling Sites 

Not To Drink Their Water

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica
The federal government is warning residents in a small Wyoming town with extensive natural gas development not to drink their water, and to use fans and ventilation when showering or washing clothes in order to avoid the risk of an explosion.

[The federal government is warning residents in a small Wyoming town with extensive natural gas development not to drink their water, and to use fans and ventilation when showering or washing clothes in order to avoid the risk of an explosion. (photo: Creative Commons/ Flickr user woodleywonderworks)]
The federal government is warning residents in a small Wyoming town with extensive natural gas development not to drink their water, and to use fans and ventilation when showering or washing clothes in order to avoid the risk of an explosion. (photo: Creative Commons/ Flickr user woodleywonderworks)
The announcement accompanied results from a second round of testing and analysis in the town of Pavillion by Superfund investigators for the Environmental Protection Agency. Researchers found benzene, metals, naphthalene, phenols and methane in wells and in groundwater. They also confirmed the presence of other compounds that they had tentatively identified last summer and that may be linked to drilling activities.

"Last week it became clear to us that the information that we had gathered" "was going to potentially result in a hazard -- result in a recommendation to some of you that you not continue to drink your water," Martin Hestmark, deputy assistant regional administrator for ecosystems protection and remediation with the EPA in Denver, told a crowd of about 100 gathered at a community center in Pavillion Tuesday night. "We understand the gravity of that."
Representatives of the EPA and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, which made the health recommendation, said they had not determined the cause of the contamination and said it was too early to tell whether gas drilling was to blame. In addition to contaminants related to oil and gas, the agency detected pesticides in some wells, and significant levels of nitrates in one sample -- signs that agricultural pollution could be partly to blame. The EPA's final report on Pavillion's water is expected early next year.
ProPublica first drew attention to Pavillion's water in late 2008, and reported extensively on the EPA's ongoing investigation there last August.
EnCana, the oil and gas company that owns most of the wells near Pavillion, has agreed to contribute to the cost of supplying residents with drinking water, even though the company has not accepted responsibility for the contamination.
EnCana spokesman Doug Hock told ProPublica in an e-mail that the petroleum hydrocarbon compounds the EPA found "covers an extremely wide spectrum of chemicals, many of which aren't associated with oil and gas."
"ATSDR's suggestion to landowners was based upon high levels of inorganics -- sodium and sulfate that are naturally occurring in the area," he said.
EPA scientists began investigating Pavillion's water in 2008 after residents complained about foul smells, illness and discolored water, and after state agencies declined to investigate. Last August the EPA found contaminants in a quarter of samples taken during the first stage of its investigation, and the agency announced it would continue with another round of samples -- the set being disclosed now.
In the meeting Tuesday, the agency shared results from tests of 23 wells, 19 of which supply drinking water to residents. It found low levels of hydrocarbon compounds -- various substances that make up oil -- in 89 percent of the drinking water wells it tested. Methane gas was detected in seven of the wells and was determined to have come from the gas reservoir being tapped for energy. Eleven of the wells contained low levels of the compound 2-butoxyethanol phosphate -- a compound associated with drilling processes but that is also used as a fire retardant and a plasticizer.
The scientists also found extremely high levels of benzene, a carcinogen, and other compounds in groundwater samples taken near old drilling disposal pits. Some of the samples were taken less than 200 yards from drinking water sources and scientists expressed concerns that the contaminated water was connected to drinking water wells by an underground aquifer.
"The groundwater associated with some inactive oil and gas production pits" "is in fact highly contaminated," Ayn Schmit, a scientist with the EPA's ecosystems protection program, told residents. But she also cautioned that the EPA has not determined the cause of the contamination and is continuing its investigation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The "Dick" Cheney Connection

There is plenty of information on the internet about all sorts of things connected to Dick Cheney.
Here are two that ought to make anyone think twice about hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking):

1.  Before he was Vice President "under" G.W.Bush, he was CEO of Halliburton, inventor of hydraulic fracturing and largest corporation, with many subsidiaries, in the business. Halliburton also provides the chemical cocktail that gets pumped into the ground beneath your water table.
Before Halliburton, Cheney was Representative from Wyoming-R, and then Secretary of Defense under G.H.W.Bush.
In other words, he worked both sides of the table, sometimes at the same time. He never saw the need to know the difference.

2. Thanks to Vice President Cheney, hydrofracking is exempt from the Energy Act of 2005 and the Clean Water Act. With this secret maneuvering, he assured Halliburton unfettered freedom from regulation.

Cheney was instrumental in forcing the war on Iraq.
Halliburton is on the hook for shoddy work at the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico.

I am not sure whether it is irony that Cheney's heart is not healthy, or a cosmic prediction. I personally never thought he had one at all.

PS Remember to apologize if he shoots you in the face.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Redefining "Toxic Assets"

SULLIVAN COUNTY — Wayne County, Pa. resident Michael Uretsky, a member of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance [said]... “There is still a land-paper game going on. Capture whatever you can.... Notice that I am not saying anything about extraction. The exploration companies make money by selling leases and by using them to commoditize public and private financing deals – not unlike the process that the banks followed with home mortgages.” 
Letter Rescinds Offers; Locals Say It's a 'Ploy', Dan Hust, Sullivan County Democrat, 9/19/09

SULLIVAN COUNTY — Natural gas drilling leases continue to be filed in the Sullivan County Clerk’s Office. Whether or not drilling will actually occur remains uncertain, as the leases simply permit, not mandate, gas companies to drill. Required permits still must be obtained from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which has yet to receive a single application in Sullivan County. Plus, the companies may sell the leases to other companies that would do the actual drilling (known as “flipping” the lease).
Who's Leasing Now?, Dan Hust, Sullivan County Democrat, 9/19/09

BROOM COUNTY — Things are just getting started here in the Marcellus play. As we all know, over the last couple years, landmen exploited uninformed landowners that had never heard of Marcellus Shale. Many owners signed leases for $50 or $100 an acre. Now, with more New Yorkers informed, landmen are taking advantage of The Great Recession and targeting the desperate. But just as soon as the ink dries, these shameless sharks are flipping the mineral rights to bigger corporations for massive profits...."
Broome County Gas Lease Deal is a Disaster: Threatens Parks, Individual
Freedoms, and Our Common Wealth
, SUNY-Binghamton, 7/16/10

Imaginary Hydraulic Fracture Well in Oxford, Chenango Co., NY

Let us imagine that drilling rig No. 43 in Susquehanna Co., PA, also pictured on the July 13 post, is going to be built somewhere else, say in Chenango County in Upstate NY.

I look at my maps and pick a hilltop: Bradley Hill in Oxford south of Norwich. The energy companies go for exposed shoulders, knobs, hilltops.

Once they decide to develop a town, or a whole county, for efficiency's sake the gas company carpet bombs it with sites. But we are only going to think about this one imaginary site today.

There is a pond nearby, other ponds in the vicinity, the Chenango River just west along Route 12. They like to be near water since it takes so much of it to develop a well.  

There is ready land. Enough people in the local towns have signed leases by now to assure the energy companies have complete access to the area, with lands set aside not only for the drilling but other sites near roads for parking dozens of frac tanks, trucks, chemicals, pipe and so on. They will also bury a dense network of transport pipelines to move natural gas out of the area and onto the national grid.

They will build pads the size of city blocks to support the rig and all the stuff that goes along with it. Just building this imaginary site will take weeks of clearing, leveling, laying a thick base of crushed rock for the pads and road.  Imagine on site a dozen frac tanks, a man-made heavily lined million-gallon holding pond for the used frac water, temporary housing for the fracking team. 

The heavy use of town roads will break the weaker ones apart. And who are these men wearing yellow and orange vests in double cab pickups with Texas and Pennsylvania plates cruising the roads?

The site will become home to a 10 story rig that will drill 6000 feet into the ground and then fracture the shale using three million gallons of water mixed with a cocktail of multi-syllable compounds that, if it comes into contact with the water table, will poison it. It has happened, and there are no guarantees it won't happen here. There are a dozen things that can go wrong, and have.

Interestingly, for two years the county board of supervisors' committee on natural gas development has dealt with secondary issues such as brine to keep the road dust down, seismic testing, road capacity, driveway permits, and leasing county-owned lands. They wonder out loud why the primary energy company Norse Energy's people don't come to their meetings. 

Sadly, and unprofessionally, they haven't had any substantive discussion about the overriding question of whether this whole idea is even good for the people of the county and its towns in the long term, at least not publicly. 

I do wonder how they can make small decisions based on large unexplored assumptions? Shouldn't the answers to small questions arise out of a base of sound planning for now and the future? What about the quality of a life lived here? Are the farms to become hayfields without livestock? The towns left to people who cannot afford to leave?

Today Bradley Hill is tranquil, the view sublime and unbroken except for a phone tower. It's high summer in Upstate New York. Let's take a dip in the pond.