The latest from the desk of ND's editor.

Hydrofracturing and Methane Contamination: The Hot Green Topic of the Day

Duke University scientists recently produced evidence that potentially dangerous concentrations of methane gas are turning up in water wells near hydrofractured natural gas drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania. Despite the researchers’ own caveat that the findings were preliminary and that there was not a whit of baseline information available, there was the predictable run on torches and pitchforks by the doom-and-gloom club.

To impart some reasoned common sense into the issue, the scientists issued a white paper titled, “Research and Policy Recommendations for Hydraulic Fracturing and Shale-Gas Extraction.” In it are suggestions on how to move forward on the issue:

  • Based on public concerns about the consequences of methane in drinking water, and the lack of peer-reviewed research on its health effects, it is recommended that an independent medical review be initiated to evaluate the health effects of methane in drinking water and households.

  • Comprehensive data on methane and other hydrocarbons in water would be useful for determining whether relatively high concentrations of methane at a location occur naturally or instead are associated directly with drilling and natural-gas extraction.

  • Where methane contamination of water occurs, the effects of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing deep underground need to be separated from the possible effects of methane leakage from a poorly constructed gas-well casing nearer the surface.

  • To plan for and mitigate any health and safety issues that arise from hydraulic fracturing and shale-gas drilling, states should ensure that scientists collect extensive baseline data on water quality in drinking water prior to exploration and drilling. This baseline sampling would provide the basis for chemical characterization of the shallow ground water and then should be followed with monitoring to evaluate the long-term impact of hydraulic fracturing and gas drilling.

The scientists offer two policy recommendations:

  • Inclusion of hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act would strengthen public confidence in hydraulic fracturing and natural-gas extraction.

  • Fully disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Any regulation should strike a balance between respecting the intellectual property rights of the industry and protecting people and the environment from potential contamination, including homeowners and the workers at drilling sites.

The white paper concludes: “As the United States and other countries continue to develop new methods for accessing unconventional sources of energy, and as hydraulic fracturing becomes increasingly common for extracting conventional oil and gas reserves, … developing a comprehensive approach to industry oversight and regulation, based on scientific data and on appropriate state and federal oversight, will provide a positive path forward for future energy extraction technologies.”

You can access the entire white paper – and much more – online at www.nicholas.duke.edu.  

Survey: Things Are Looking (Mostly) Up

A recent National Driller Web poll asked visitors to www.nationaldriller.com, “What’s your company’s business situation looking like this year.” The results:
  • Fantastic, our best year in some time – 11 percent.
  • Up, prospects are good – 26 percent.
  • Steady, we’re holding our own – 32 percent.
  • Slow, projects are few and far between – 18 percent.
  • Dismal, we’ll be lucky to stay afloat – 13 percent.
All things considered, that’s really not too bad, given our current economic environment. For those of you having a rough go – keep your chin up; we’re all pulling for you.

SAWD Jubilee Golf Tourney

Linkster alert: The South Atlantic Well Drillers Jubilee Golf Tournament kicks off at noon on Saturday, July 30, at Arrowhead Country Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Whether you’re a duffer or looking for your third ace, all are welcome to take part in this popular twosome scramble.

Not only is this the premier event on the venerable Well Drillers Challenge Tour, it’s a bargain to boot. A mere $60 gets you in on the action at this prestigious tournament, and that includes range balls, green fees and cart, lunch and armloads of fabulous door prizes.

The Jubilee Golf Tournament is sponsored by National Driller, Baroid IDP and Central Mine Equipment Co., so you know it’s first-class all the way. Get signed up today to assure your spot in this always-enjoyable (and for some – profitable) outing; just call the friendly tournament director, Dean Laramore, at 800-874-4245.
ND