Posts Tagged ‘Hydraulic fracturing’

Durham University finds that fracking is not very significant in causing tremors

April 10, 2013

The fears of earthquakes and water contamination are being wildly exaggerated by all those who would prevent the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of the vast deposits of gas shale available around the world. But research at the University of Durham puts the threat of micro-seismsity into perspective.

BBC reports:

New research suggests that fracking is not a significant cause of earthquakes that can be felt on the surface. UK scientists looked at quakes caused by human activity ranging from mining to oil drilling; only three could be attributed to hydraulic fracturing.

Most fracking events released the same amount of energy as jumping off a ladder, the Durham-based team said. They argue that the integrity of well bores drilled for fracking is of much greater concern.

The research is published in the Journal of Marine and Petroleum Geology.

 …. Fracking, as it is called, utilises a mixture of water, sand and chemicals pumped underground at high pressure to crack open sedimentary rocks and release the fuels within. But opponents of fracking have long been concerned that the process could induce earthquakes such as the one that occurred near a shale gas operation in Lancashire in 2011.

Now researchers from Durham University’s Energy Institute say that the pumping of fracking liquid does indeed have the potential to reactivate dormant fault lines. But they say that compared to many other human activities such as mining or filling reservoirs with water, fracking is not a significant source of tremors that can be felt on the surface.

“We’ve looked at 198 published examples of induced seismicity since 1929,” Prof Richard Davies from Durham told BBC News. “Hydraulic fracturing is not really in the premier league for causing felt seismicity. Fundamentally it is is never going to be as important as mining or filling dams which involve far greater volumes of fluid.” The researchers detailed just three incidences of earthquakes created by fracking – one each in the US, the UK and Canada. The biggest at Horn River Basin in Canada in 2011 had a magnitude of 3.8.

“Most fracking related events release a negligible amount of energy roughly equivalent to, or even less than someone jumping off a ladder onto the floor,” said Prof Davies. ….. 


UK has enough shale gas for a millenium

February 9, 2013

Shale gas reserve estimates keep on increasing. We have the peculiar situation where Russia and some of the large oil companies attack shale gas only because some of their existing business may be threatened. But they all also have strong positions with shale gas. But what is clear is that “peak gas” has been postponed by several hundred years and there is no energy crisis in sight.

Peak Gas will never come

The Times has seen advance copies of the British Geological Survey’s new estimates of shale gas reserves in the UK:

Britain could have enough shale gas to heat every home for 1,500 years, according to new estimates that suggest reserves are 200 times greater than experts previously believed. The British Geological Survey is understood to have increased dramatically its official estimate of the amount of shale gas to between 1,300 trillion and 1,700 trillion cubic feet, dwarfing its previous estimate of 5.3 trillion cubic feet.

According to GWPF:

According to industry sources, the revised estimates will be published by the Government next month, fuelling hopes that new “fracking” techniques to capture trapped resources will result in cheaper energy bills.

It is thought that it will be technically possible to recover up to a fifth of this gas, making Britain’s shale rocks potentially as bountiful as those in the US. Experts stressed that it was still much too early to say how much of the gas it would be economic to get out of the ground to heat homes and help to generate electricity. 

In an interview with The Times today, Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, tries to downplay hopes of a shale gas glut in the UK pushing down household heating bills, which are at record highs. “It is not the golden goose. The experts are clear that they do not expect this to have a major impact on the gas price.”

The UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), which also represents other onshore oil and gas producers, is aiming to win over public opinion about the shale gas industry, in particular by countering claims that the process of fracking poses an environmental menace.

The shale gas industry is gearing up for a year of intense activity after the Government lifted an 18-month moratorium on fracking in December. The ban was imposed in May 2011 after Cuadrilla Resources, the explorer backed by Lord Browne of Madingley, the former chief executive of BP, set off dozens of earth tremors when it began fracking on sites near Blackpool. The company intends to resume fracking this summer to find out more about the size and commercial potential of its reserves.

Other explorers sitting on vast shale gas deposits will also apply for fracking licences soon. Government officials are preparing to hold an onshore oil and gas licensing round this year which could result in more parts of the UK being opened up for shale exploration.


“Peak Oil” vanishes and even OPEC bows to shale fracking technology

November 9, 2012

The various catastrophe scenarios based on the depletion of a limited resource (peak-oil, peak-gas, peak-energy, peak-food……….) have a fundamental weakness – they fail to account for human ingenuity and technological advance. History has shown that such Malthusian scenarios just do not come to pass. New discoveries change the availability of the resource, innovation and technology find alternatives and economics changes pricing and the supply/demand dynamics.

Moving peaks

In February this year I posted:

In recent times the development of fracking technology and the discovery of huge deposits of gas-bearing shales together with the discovery of new deep-sea sources of natural gas have pushed the “peak” for gas production beyond the visible horizon and into the distant future (a few hundred years). When – rather than if – methane hydrates become available for gas production, the “peak” will shift further into the future.

Reuters now reports on Opec’s latest World Oil Outlook 

OPEC acknowledged for the first time on Thursday that technology for extracting oil and gas from shale is changing the global supply picture significantly ……

In its annual World Oil Outlook, OPEC cut its forecast of global oil demand to 2016 due to economic weakness and also increased its forecast of supplies from countries outside the 12-nation exporters’ group.

“Given recent significant increases in North American shale oil and shale gas production, it is now clear that these resources might play an increasingly important role in non-OPEC medium- and long-term supply prospects,” the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said in the report.

OPEC has been slower than some to acknowledge the impact that new technologies such as hydraulic fracturing – known as “fracking” – may have on supply.

Russia losing the shale gas wars

October 1, 2012

The advent of shale gas is not only a game-changer regarding power generation but also a game-changer in the area of energy and geopolitics. The Russian dominance in the European gas markets is being threatened and they are now joining forces with various environmental groups in an unholy alliance to restrain the development of shale gas production in Europe.

But in the long-term I expect Russia will join the shale-gas movement. They have larger resources of oil and gas bearing shales  than most others.

Wall Street Journal (Associated Press):

The Kremlin is watching, European nations are rebelling, and some suspect Moscow is secretly bankrolling a campaign to derail the West’s strategic plans. It’s not some Cold War movie; it’s about the U.S. boom in natural gas drilling, and the political implications are enormous. Like falling dominoes, the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is shaking up world energy markets from Washington to Moscow to Beijing. Some predict what was once unthinkable: that the U.S. won’t need to import natural gas in the near future, and that Russia could be the big loser.


Now China gears up for the shale gas revolution

February 14, 2012

China has reserves of shale gas at least 50% greater than in the US and is the latest country hopping onto the fracking band-wagon. The Chinese are looking to acquire minority interests in technology companies owning fracking technology in the US and are pushing ahead with their plans for production of shale gas. It seems quite clear now that whenever the global economic recovery finally gets going, the availability of shale gas will be one of the contributing factors. I expect we shall see a boom in exploration for shale gas reserves, in increasing production of shale gas and a boom in gas-fired power generation. There may well be a boom in the sales of gas turbines for power generation within the next 2 -3 years.

“Peak” gas is nowhere in sight. And the fracking technology developments seem to have application even for the recovery of large amounts of gas from methane gas hydrates which are found under deep sea-beds (>500m deep) and even under thick layers of permafrost. While this may take another 10+ years to develop, it makes it even more unlikely that any “peak” gas scenario can develop.

Shale gas reserves: Reuters graphic

Forbes reports:


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