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Marcellus shale legacy wells showing increasing depletion rates

Robert Magyar, Phiadelphia Energy Examiner
In its latest April/May 2014 shale gas productivity report, the Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) now projects the Marcellus shale formation will lose an estimated 352 million cubic feet per day (Mmcf/d) of shale gas production from legacy wells for May 2014. The EIA report shows well productivity daily losses increasing from 200 Mmcf/d since May 2013. The agency estimates a gain in production from new or recently connected Marcellus shale gas wells of 605 Mmcf/d but only a net gain of 256 Mmcf/d after production losses from legacy wells. Total daily shale gas production in the Marcellus is estimated by the EIA to reach 14,772 MMcf/d for May 2014; a slight increase above April 2014’s projected 14,520 MMcf/d. The agency estimates new well productivity is coming from roughly 140 new rigs working the formation…
(22 April 2014)

Is the U.S. Shale Boom Going Bust?

Tom Zeller Jr., Bloomberg View
It’s not surprising that a survey of energy professionals attending the 2014 North American Prospect Expo overwhelmingly identified "U.S. energy independence" as the trend most likely to gain momentum this year. Like any number of politicians and pundits, these experts are riding high on the shale boom — that catch-all colloquialism for the rise of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that have unleashed a torrent of hydrocarbons from previously inaccessible layers of rock.

But this optimism belies an increasingly important question: How long will it all last?

Among drilling critics and the press, contentious talk of a "shale bubble" and the threat of a sudden collapse of America’s oil and gas boom have been percolating for some time. While the most dire of these warnings are probably overstated, a host of geological and economic realities increasingly suggest that the party might not last as long as most Americans think…
(22 April 2014)

Pollution Fears Crush Home Prices Near Fracking Wells

Jeff McMahon, Forbes
Whether or not fracking causes groundwater pollution, people fear the risk enough that property values have dropped for homes with drinking-water wells near shale-gas pads, according to new research.

Researchers from the Unviersity of Calgary and Duke University studied property sales from 1994 to 2012 in 36 Pennsylvania counties and seven counties in New York. They mapped sales against the locations of shale-gas wells, and they compared homes connected to public drinking-water systems to homes with private wells…
(10 April 2014)

France’s Total calls time on Polish shale license

Staff, Reuters
France’s Total has not renewed its only shale gas exploration licence in Poland, a spokesman for the company said on Monday, highlighting the problems Warsaw faces in reducing its reliance on Russian energy.

The company said that, despite the presence of gas, it had concluded the area it was exploring in eastern Poland near the Ukraine border was not economically viable…
(14 April 2014)

EPA drastically underestimates methane released at drilling sites

Neela Banerjee, LA Times
Drilling operations at several natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania released methane into the atmosphere at rates that were 100 to 1,000 times greater than federal regulators had estimated, new research shows.

Using a plane that was specially equipped to measure greenhouse gas emissions in the air, scientists found that drilling activities at seven well pads in the booming Marcellus shale formation emitted 34 grams of methane per second, on average. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that such drilling releases between 0.04 grams and 0.30 grams of methane per second.

The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds to a growing body of research that suggests the EPA is gravely underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas operations…
(14 April 2014)
Link to the study

Fracking Boom

Greg Dalton, Climate One
America is in the midst of a fracking boom. Most new oil and gas wells in this country are drilled using hyrdraulic fracturing, the injection of a cocktail of water and chemicals at high pressure to release bubbles of oil or gas trapped in shale rock. Thanks to fracking, America is awash in cheap natural gas and is poised to become the world’s largest petroleum producer next year.

Russell Gold, Reporter, The Wall Street Journal; Author, The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World
Trevor Houser, Partner, Rhodium Group; Co-Author, Fueling Up: The Economic Implications of America’s Oil and Gas Boom
Mark Zoback, Professor of Geophysics at Stanford, former member of the Secretary of Energy’s Committee on Shale Gas Development from 2011 to 2012

(1 April 2014)

Does fracking cause quakes? California needs to know.

Editorial, LA Times
A swarm of Ohio quakes that geologists say may be linked to fracking illustrate the risks in California.

Many concerns have been raised about hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — but the one scientists know the least about is the potential for earthquakes.

Until recently, evidence linking earthquakes to fracking — the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals into rock to release the oil or gas locked within — has pointed to post-drilling operations as the culprit. In other words, the problem didn’t seem to be the original fracking but the re-injection of wastewater into wells. That suggested that if a safer disposal method could be found for the wastewater, perhaps the risk could be avoided.

New events, though, indicate that the fracking process itself might also cause seismic instability. Ohio geologists reported last week that a small swarm of earthquakes in the state appeared to be linked to fracking wells; there were no re-injection wells near the area…
(20 April 2014)