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Just went and saw the movie
hosted by a local group here in town. While I am not associated with the politics of these folks, I did want to see what all the hullabaloo has been about with this homemade flick.

Wow, talk about a lit stick of dynamite! Lots of emotional content, little factual context around the content. Sure makes gas drilling and hydro fracing look bad. REAL BAD.

While I understand that industry typically doesn't give much credence to stuff like this, I'm here to tell you this is just the fodder the tree huggers need to get a bunch of people fired up and push for bad legislation.

I wanted so bad to ask the one question that wasn't presented and needs to be asked "How does fracturing a well at 10,000 feet in-depth that produces radial fractures of extent of at most 3000 feet contaminate a surface watershed or a fresh water aquifer at a depth of less than 1000 feet in-depth?" Given the number of people between me and the door, discretion was the better part of valor today, but still, we gotta get people in the industry to start getting some factual information out in the right channels or we're gonna get stomped.

Thoughts, input, ideas, comments?

Views: 813

Comment by Joe lilley on April 18, 2011 at 7:36am
Really!! I would like to hear this myself.......Good question Tony..
Comment by Overshot on April 18, 2011 at 10:49am
One of the big points that is made throughout the film is how NG drilling and extraction are exempt from Safe Drinking Water Acts (SDWA) and are therefore unregulated. There is strong inference that energy companies are given a free hand in doing whatever they please. There is little mention of EPA, State and Local regulatory agencies and regulations that drilling and production must answer to and abide by.

Another strong inference that is made throughout the film is that fracing a well can and does contaminate fresh water wells, aquifers and surface watersheds. When industry states the obvious (my prior question, how can fractures thousands of feet separated from these water sources be the cause of contamination?) the creator of the movie answers by stating (and I quote) "That target layers of (sic) fracking are far below underground drinking water sources was never contested by Gasland. We don't know why (sci) fracking chemicals and fugitive natural gas are getting into water supplies, we just know that they are..." He has several apparently authoritative experts that offer opinions to support his claim. I have not researched
the credentials of these people so can offer no opinion at this time as to their ability to speak authoritatively.

Some of the aspects that would have been more compelling in support of the authors claims would have been some simple gas chromatography tests to determine the composition of the seepage/water faucet gas compared to the composition of the wellhead gas. Answering the inferred question of sourcing these gas types would have gone a long way to making his case much more compelling, but since that was not done, it is left to the viewer to make the inference that the gas sources in question is one and the same.

Another point that really stuck with me was the "boil off" from condensate tanks and from NG compressor stations. I'm not a production guy so I don't have any knowledge to speak from concerning this, but he takes a couple of infrared shots showing what looks to be a huge amount of condensate gas boiling off from a tank and implies how evil this is. He also has a segment where mayor of the town of Dish, TX tells of the horrendous clouds of methane that settle over the town apparently emitted from the numerous compressor stations located therein. If anyone can speak with knowledge or authority concerning this, please, do so here.

One other piece that was repeatedly mentioned was the composition of frac fluid and the numerous numerous chemicals involved in the makeup, most of them carcinogenic. No attempt was made to differentiate what was actually in the frac fluid from what was produced in flowback, not was there any attempt to show that most frac fluids are a mix of a minor subset of this list. There was no communication as to the proportion of the ingredients of frac fluid and or the relative risk at the mix levels. There was certainly a strong and influential piece of dialog where a number of long chemical names of various ingredients were read for dramatic effect, creating the impression that all of these substances were extraordinarily toxic.

All in all, the verbal expressions of the audience around me indicated that this film had the desired effect; to be inflammatory and stir peoples passions against the oil and natural gas industry without providing a factual or balanced piece with which people could form an honest opinion. Of course, once people get worked up like this, there is little point in trying to discuss any counterpoint with them. All the usual attacks come up, "you must work in the industry", "someone is paying you to say that", "don't you care about the people who have been affected by this evil work?", "don't you care about the environment?", "these companies make obscene profits, they can afford to exercise more caution!", "they don't need to drill here and pollute our streams!", "you can't believe what big business tells you, they always lie!" etc.

This piece won an Oscar award for best documentary. We know that this award doesn't really mean anything, but to a lot of people it lends a lot of credibility. Given some of the "Michael Moore" type tactics the author employed in several scenes, it sure makes it look like people are ducking his questions. I'm not sure what the right way to counter this is, but we need to be more vocal and get factual information in front of people's faces about this type of media presentation and our industry. This work casts us, all of us, in a really bad light and coupled with the likes of "Black Gold" makes us look like dumba55, greedy criminals after the quick buck!

A couple of different links, trying to present both sides.
Supporting the claims of Gasland:

Countering the claims of Gasland:
Comment by Overshot on April 19, 2011 at 9:56pm
Article in the Casper Star Tribune that is relevant to this concern:
Comment by Lerret on April 20, 2011 at 10:03am
Sorry but people believe what they want to believe. Neither belief nor unbelief matters to truth.

I firmly believe the industry has an attitude that it is hopeless to try and change people's minds. What changes their minds is $5 gasoline. They blame the industry for pollution but they dont' want to pay for the clean up.

By the way, as best I can tell, fracs rarely exceed 300' feet vertical. But there are wells being polluted. I am convinced the industry has done a poor job of vetting why. An oil company owner and long time friend of mine who was originally a biologist for the Texas water regulators, pointed out that too many instances of clear pollution exist. But the source almost certainly is not fraccing per se. It appears poor design of the surface casing and poor handling of waste is a major problem.
One of the members of our royalty group actually caught employees of a clean up crew breaching a reserve pit and draining the water into a drainage that went into a stream and caused a fish kill. By the time the state got there, the site had been dozed over and the spill was not evident. Rouge water haulers are dumping water in ditches and creeks all over central Arkansas. Eastern Tank Service neverly got banned over their handling of salty mud in a dirt farm where the clorides were supposed to be limited to a few part per million. This is a huge problem and the industry needs to stop it by firing and blacklisting any such waster handlers.
Comment by Sherry Hart on April 20, 2011 at 10:28am
"I wanted so bad to ask the one question that wasn't presented and needs to be asked "How does fracturing a well at 10,000 feet in depth that produces radial fractures of extent of at most 3000 feet contaminate a surface watershed or a fresh water aquifer at a depth of less than 1000 feet in depth?"
I'm not sure where you are drilling, but my husband has been drilling in PA for two years. We live in NEPA, close to the NY border. The movie was effective enough in NY State for them to impose a three-year moratorium on drilling if it uses HF. There are factors at work in NY who adamantly oppose drilling and Gasland's director is FROM NY, even though he touts his "family home" in PA - it was a second home. Gasland was just the instigator of the anti-drill movement in the state and the movement is starting to spill over into other states.
There are those who have drank the whole cup of Kool-Aid and buy HF has contaminated drinking water sources and there are others against that tell you it will or it could. Go ahead and just b*** your head against a brick wall NOW and you'll save yourself a whole lot of frustration. In my own opinion, it's the middle-grounders as I call them, who need to be educated. Unluckily this is also the group who think the pro vs anti-drilling battle (and that IS what it is) or its outcome doesn't concern them. They are the ones who need to understand just how much 1.NG and its byproducts contribute to life as we know it in the short run and 2. if all drilling comes to an end, not only will it be disastrous for our country, but any hopes of energy independence are shot down with it.
In fact, Tony, I think I just might start that blog of my own here on DA. I have been in the thick of things out here for 9 months now and, with comments like yours, am coming to realize others are not aware of what is going on here in the East part of the US.
Thank YOU for caring. Things people can do NOW - letters to the editors and addressing on-line commentaries, join local pro-drilling groups and donate your time, donate your time on your own to speak to community groups or even women's church groups about your job.
Currently, in NY, they are awaiting the release of the SGEIS that addresses every aspect of drilling, it's expected to be released this summer with a 30,60, or 90 day waiting period. In the meantime I stay VERY active and vocal about it in my small area of the world, and if I could tap into your guys' knowledge when putting forth arguments I would appreciate it. In order to combat Gasland and its aftermath, it will take many of us working together. As I have indicated to others, complacency and apathy are our enemies.
There is SO much more I could add.... however I think you have motivated me to begin a blog. If you want to know more in the meantime, about what is going on out here, feel free to PM me here and I will try to fill you in.

Comment by Overshot on April 20, 2011 at 10:41am
Sherry, Lerret,

First let me clarify one thing. My question ""How does fracturing a well at 10,000 feet in depth that produces radial fractures of extent of at most 3000 feet contaminate a surface watershed or a fresh water aquifer at a depth of less than 1000 feet in depth?" is rhetorical in nature to this group. I know all to well the answer, "it can't". The question was (poorly phrased) to be directed to the creator of the film and the receptive audience that received it.

I have good friends (engineers) who work for a pumping company and we've spent a fair amount of time discussing this very subject so I could be better informed and speak with a high degree of certainty.

Lerret, you've hit the primary causes directly on the head, bad casing/cement jobs, poor disposal practices, etc. HF itself is the least likely culprit. The circumstances in which HF would be the culprit are very narrow.

Sherry, I would encourage you to post here with your information, PLEASE! I have friends in PA who are directional drillers and they relay some information about the hostile environment there. Please relay more of the what you see.

As difficult as it is to get people to listen and come to an understanding, it's important that we keep accurate information at the forefront of communications. Being silent implies that we agree with the Gasland crowd, and people will seek to implement poor legislation as a result.

Thanks for participating folks, keep it coming!
Comment by Sherry Hart on April 20, 2011 at 10:59am
Sure thing, Tony, although it might be a couple of days. When I say I live in the "thick of things" I am not kidding. I live 20 miles from Dimock PA, home of the "poster children" of the anti-drill crowd. They were victims of methane migration, but are the prime culprits of purposefully confusing the migration with frac contamination. The most vocal of their sect would have you believe the town is a toxic wasteland. Well, guess what? The other 1,400 residents are starting to be aware of their town's depiction and, being well aware of the positive impacts drilling and the companies have had on their small communities, are fighting back:

And yes, Lerret, the O&G companies need to do a better job of communicating. Out here, their lack of doing so, with both the release of Gasland and the Dimock occurrence, allowed the anti-drill crowd to get their feet planted firmly in that door and prey on people's fear and emotions.
Comment by Ross Hart on April 20, 2011 at 4:21pm
Tony, for an example of the hysterical reactions to the industry you need look no further than this link-Blowback on Bradford Co. Gas well
The story isn't 2 hours old and the treehuggers are having afield day with this-makes one wish that every oil and gas producing state could refuse to export to NY, let'em freeze in the dark!
Comment by Overshot on April 20, 2011 at 5:50pm
Reposting your link Ross:
Blowback on Bradford County Gas Well

Wow! You weren't kidding about the anti-drilling forces having a field day, that's just wild!

"Crews are on location working to control the leak and contain the fluid flow. All relevant emergency agencies have been notified and are either on location or en route. Well-control specialists Boots and Coots have been mobilized and are prepared to respond if necessary. All non-essential vehicles have been removed from the location. "

There will be no winning with the like of those people. If you do take every precautionary step, they'll read it as this must be worse than dealing with a situation like the nuclear reactors in Japan. If you don't take every precautionary step, they say you trying to do stuff on the cheap and aren't concerned about the local population and poisoning the environment. Good grief...
Comment by Overshot on April 21, 2011 at 10:25am
Knowing that articles sometime disappear leaving none functioning links, here's the text from the article in the Casper Star Tribune that I referenced below.

EnCana joins national 'fracking' database

Jeremy Fugleberg, Star-Tribune energy reporter | Posted: Tuesday, April 19, 2011 8:59 am

EnCana Oil and Gas USA has joined a national voluntary database listing contents of hydraulic fracturing fluid.

"We're joining fracfocus.org to voluntarily disclose fluids used in U.S. hydraulic fracturing operations," the company said through its Twitter account, and included a link to EnCana's public stance on hydraulic fracturing.

The national database, located here, currently includes well specific information from Wyoming for two companies -- Chesapeake Operating Inc. and Newfield Exploration -- for a total of four wells.

While that's only a small fraction of the number of wells in which hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been used, industry representatives say they expect the number of contributors to the database to grow.

EnCana's contribution could prove significant. The company has significant interests in Wyoming, and is proposing an additional 3,500 wells in the state.

While much of what is detailed on the site is already publicly available under Wyoming's disclosure rules, the new, slick database will compile data from multiple states in a single format in a single location -- the first time that has happened.

The database is a cooperative effort between the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Ground Water Protection Council, and was opened to the public last week.


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