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Shale gas and fracking - Jan 31

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A Mysterious Patch Of Light Shows Up In The North Dakota Dark
Robert Krulwich, NPR
This is odd. Take a look at this map of America at night. As you'd expect, the cities are ablaze, the Great Lakes and the oceans dark, but if you look at the center, where the Eastern lights give way to the empty Western plains, there's a mysterious clump of light there that makes me wonder...

It's a little to the left, high up near the Canadian border. Just run your eye up that line of lights at the center of the country, look over to the upper left: There's a patch that looks like a big city — but there is no big city in that part of North Dakota. There's mostly grass. So what are those lights doing there? What is that? [map]

If you need help, here's the same map again; this time, the patch is marked with a circle. It turns out, yes, that's not a city. And those lights weren't there six years ago. What we have here is an immense and startlingly new oil and gas field — nighttime evidence of an oil boom created by a technology called fracking. Those lights are rigs, hundreds of them, lit at night, or fiery flares of natural gas. One hundred fifty oil companies, big ones, little ones, wildcatters, have flooded this region, drilling up to eight new wells every day on what is called the Bakken formation. Altogether, they are now producing 660,000 barrels a day — double the output two years ago — so that in no time at all, North Dakota is now the second-largest oil producing state in America. Only Texas produces more, and those lights are a sign that this region is now on fire ... to a disturbing degree. Literally...

(16 January 2013)


Poland Stumbles as Shale Gas Industry Fails to Take Off

Dimiter Kenarov, Pulitzer Center and Calkins Media, Shale Reporter
A map of Poland, unevenly colored in shades of yellow, brown, green and purple, like a half-finished jigsaw puzzle, hangs prominently on the walls of the country's ministries, state agencies and corporations. Official visitors are cordially invited to take a closer look. The label in the upper right-hand corner of this new map reads, "Map of Concessions for Hydrocarbon Exploration and Production."...

Despite the enormous infusion of capital and promises that production could start as early as 2015, however, Poland's gas industry has yet to take off. Hampered by difficult geology, a paltry service sector, a lack of adequate infrastructure, as well as an uncertain regulatory and tax environment, there have been few exploratory wells drilled. That, in turn, has delayed assessment of the actual size of reserves and left in doubt whether the industry could ever be commercially viable...
(29 January 2013)


Is fracking responsible for the flooding of an Upper Egyptian village?

Steven Viney, Egypt Independent
The village of Fares, located about 75km north of the city of Aswan near Kom Ombo, is currently being destroyed by severe flooding of contaminated water caused by controversial oil drilling practices performed over the past four years, according to residents. Fares is an agricultural village home to approximately 25,000 residents...

According to Sheikh Ahmed Abdel Hameed, a resident of Fares and key community activist, the initial floodings started in 2009 when oil drillers from DanaGas started test drilling on residential land in Fares without local consent. “Not long after the drillers left, contaminated water started to pump out of the ground from the holes they had made, destroying everything,” says Abdel Hameed, adding that now over 500 feddans of land and housing has been destroyed by constant flooding. “It’s poisonous water, and even small amounts destroy the plantations and trees, instead of hydrating them ... and sometimes it can get up to five feet high, destroying our houses too.” It is believed that this reaction is caused by a controversial drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It entails drilling a vertical tunnel thousands of feet below the surface until it reaches a layer of rock where gas or oil are buried...
(29 January 2013)


Shale gas is not a game-changer for the UK, says BP

Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph
Shale gas is unlikely to be a “game-changer” for the UK over the next two decades, energy giant BP said, as it warned that Europe would become increasingly dependent on imported gas.

...Christof Rühl, BP’s chief economist, said it foresaw “extremely limited growth” in shale gas in Europe. “Europe has various problems: environmental concerns, outright bans on fracking, a lack of infrastructure and a long tradition of not minding so much having to import things,” he said.

Shale gas would play a role only nearer to 2030 and “only to a very small extent”, he said. “I think that is also the story for the UK. There will be some projects starting here, maybe earlier than on the continent, but it’s not likely to be a big game-changer in the natural gas market, where we have these declines in the North Sea to compensate...
(16 January 2013)

 

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