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Could California’s Shale Oil Boom Be Just a Mirage?

Sharon Kelly, DeSmogBlog

Could California’s Shale Oil Boom Be Just a Mirage? (via Desmogblog)

Since the shale rush took off starting in 2005 in Texas, drillers have sprinted from one state to the next, chasing the promise of cheaper, easier, more productive wells. This land rush was fueled by a wild spike in natural gas prices that helped make…

(7 November 2013)

Could fracking boom peter out sooner than DOE expects?

Wendy Koch, USA TODAY
Surging oil and gas production is nudging the nation closer to energy independence. But new research suggests the boom could peter out long before the United States reaches this decades-old goal.

Many wells behind the energy gush are quickly losing productivity, and some areas could hit peak levels sooner than the U.S. government expects, according to analyses presented last week at a Geological Society of America meeting in Denver.

"It’s a temporary bonanza," says J. David Hughes, an energy expert at the Post Carbon Institute, a research group focused on sustainability…
(3 November 2013)

More mineral owners seek to join gas lawsuits

Staff, AP via Fuelfix
Lawyers say dozens of western North Dakota mineral owners have expressed interest in joining lawsuits seeking damages from oil drilling companies for natural gas that is lost when it is burned instead of being captured as a byproduct of oil production…
(4 November 2013)

Bakken field haste fuels massive natural gas waste

Ken Steinken, MyTown
North Dakotan Mark Wald has a great idea. Every one of the 150 oil companies in the Bakken oilfield should be calling him to beg for his services.

His company Blaise Energy finds ways to turn oilfield waste into a money-saving resource. And we’re not talking about garbage. We’re talking about natural gas, which is a waste product in the Bakken.

Frequently when drilling for oil there will be pockets of natural gas “in the way.” Natural gas is a valuable resource which has been put into greater demand by its use as a “cleaner” form of fuel at electrical power plants.

Natural gas flare at the Sergeant Major well on the Evanson family farm in McKenzie County, North Dakota, east of Arnegard and west of Watford City.

But the problem is that the drilling of new wells is happening so quickly in such remote locations that pipelines do not exist to pump the gas into. The solution is to set up a stack to let the gas escape and to get rid of the “nuisance” by simply lighting it on fire.

This process is known as flaring. Just to put this into perspective we’re not talking about the pilot light on your furnace…

OK that’s seems dumb enough to start with. (And I haven’t even mentioned the amount of greenhouse gas it’s spewing into the atmosphere or the health threat). But it gets worse.

Drilling sites require great amounts of electricity to get to the oil and pump it up. Remember how I said many of these wells are in very remote areas? Lots of them are nowhere near any power lines. So they have to make their own electricity.

How do they do that? They set up big tanks and fill them with diesel fuel hauled in by truck. Then they put the diesel in generators that they use to make electricity.

It took a guy from North Dakota to say, “What’s wrong with that picture?” and come up with a way to fix it (and make some money in the process).

Wald’s company Blaise Energy specializes in “market-based solutions to monetize stranded gas through distributed gas processing.” That’s big oil talk for he finds ways to take wellhead flare gas and convert it into electricity that can be used on site…
(7 November 2013)

Shale gas fracking a low risk to public health -UK review

Kate Kelland, Reuters
The risks to public health from emissions caused by fracking for shale oil and gas are low as long as operations are properly run and regulated, the British government’s health agency said on Thursday.

Public Health England (PHE) said in a review that any health impacts were likely to be minimal from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations deep underground…

Since there is currently no fracking in Britain, the PHE report examined evidence from countries such as the United States, where it found that any risk to health was typically due to operational failure…
(31 October 2013)

Underground Carbon Dioxide Injections Triggered Earthquakes in Texas in 2009-2011

Staff, Sci-News
A new study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences correlates 93 small earthquakes near Snyder, Texas between 2009 and 2011 with the underground injection of large volumes of gas, primarily carbon dioxide. The study focused on an area of northwest Texas with three large oil and gas fields – the Cogdell field, the Salt Creek field and the Scurry Area Canyon Reef Operators Committee unit – which have all produced petroleum since the 1950s…

Using seismic data collected between March 2009 and December 2010 by the EarthScope USArray Program, a National Science Foundation-funded network of broadband seismometers deployed from the Canadian border to the Gulf of Mexico, study co-authors identified 93 earthquakes in the Cogdell area from March 2009 to December 2010, three of which were greater than magnitude 3. An even larger earthquake, with magnitude 4.4, occurred in Cogdell in September 2011…
(6 November 2013)

Colorado an energy battleground as towns ban fracking

Keith Coffman, Reuters
Three Colorado cities have rejected oil and gas production work that relies on so-called fracking, unofficial election returns showed on Wednesday in a setback for an industry that won other battles this year in Democratic strongholds like California.

Boulder, Lafayette and Fort Collins passed measures with solid margins to suspend or ban the technique formally known as hydraulic fracturing. But a fourth community, Broomfield, about 12 miles (19 km) east of Boulder, narrowly rejected a fracking moratorium.
(6 November 2013)