Sunday, August 31, 2014

a slow week in the fracking patch

it's been a pretty slow week in the gas & oil patch, which i guess means there was no really bad news...there wasnt a major spill or a fracking related story that generated national news coverage, nor was there an Ohio story of note...if any story could be considered breaking news, it was that under Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, Pennsylvania finally made public their records of 243 cases of drinking water wells contaminated by fracking operations, including contamination from both methane and frack water flowback...we all knew this was happening, now there's a state agency on record verifying it... here's that:

there was a ruling by the International Trade Commission this week that Korea, Taiwan, India and other steelmakers have been dumping cheap tubular steel on the US markets at below costs, and hence will have anti-dumping fines of up to 15.75% imposed on their products entering the country....the implications of this for the fracking patch is that the drillers may switch to domestically produced well casings and pipe, which in any case will be more expensive...with oil prices continuing to hit multi-month lows, the margins on even oil drilling are getting a result, expansion in the oil patch has become less robust, and this past week the national rig count was down 17 to it appears that anything that adds to their costs at these price levels will slow drilling in the highest marginal cost areas, which would include our part of Ohio..

i normally dont cover politics, but i couldn't help but notice some of the widespread coverage on the New York governors race, where anti-fracking & Occupy activist Zephyr Teachout is challenging Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary...normally you'd think such a candidacy to be on the fringe and not get much traction, but Cuomo's efforts to have her taken off the ballot have attracted the attention of the New York Times, who penned an editorial, “a Teachout moment,” encouraging him to debate her...while they've not endorsed her or Cuomo for governor, they have endorsed her running mate, Timothy Wu, for Lieutenant Governor...thus with the powerful NY Times leaning against the establishment candidates for state office, the NY primary could be interesting and bears watching, for those of you who are into that kind of participation...

so, with nothing else to note, here's the fracking & related articles from this past week...

What the Anti-Fracking Movement Brings to the Climate Movement -- These are my prepared remarks for a speech I gave at the Boston stop of the People’s Climate March - Hi, everyone. My name is Sandra Steingraber, and I inhabit the anti-fracking wing of the climate movement. Only a few years ago, that sentence would have sounded strange, even to me, because the fight against fracking has its roots in another place. Those who oppose natural gas extraction via fracking first came together because we didn’t want to be poisoned. In  New York state, we sought to halt fracking before it started because of what we saw across the border in the gaslands of Pennsylvania: families with nose bleeds and rashes. Sick pets. Horses and livestock with mysterious ailments. Devastated landscapes. We had concerns about exploding pipelines, leaking waste pits and about our children’s school buses sharing icy roads with tanker trucks hauling toxic fracking fluid.  Most of all, we came together to protect our drinking water, and, now that the science is beginning catch up to the speed at which fracking is rolling across the nation, an ever-expanding collection of empirical data shows that our concerns were well founded.  But a funny thing happened on the way to the shale gas boom. It turns out that the same unfixable engineering problem that sets the table for contaminating our water also contaminates the atmosphere with climate-killing methane.

Winds of Change: The Zephyr Turns Primary into Plebiscite on Fracking  -- Zephyr Teachout has turned the New York gubernatorial primary into a plebiscite on fracking, on reform in Albany, on campaign finance, and clean jobs in New York. Pretty much all the things that matter. Unless you’re a lobbyist.  Why is Zephyr the safe bet in the September 9th primary ?  She’s the positive candidate that represents real change and the most opportunity for New York. And because she’s the candidate least likely to be indicted by the feds.  It’s official: The New York Times says we’re having “a Teachout moment,” by which the paper’s editorial board means it’s time for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop trying to knock progressive challenger Zephyr Teachout off the ballot and to debate her instead. It’s a play on “teachable moment,” and it makes you wonder what’s intended to be taught.  Does the paper believe Cuomo should be taught a political lesson in the wake of the Moreland Commission scandal, after a scorching Times report revealed he’s being investigated for meddling in and protecting allies from the anti-corruption probe? Or does the Times think that Cuomo should learn that he can afford to play nice, for a moment, and give state voters an opportunity to examine his four years in office, alongside a barely known rival with an odd name who declares that he’s been “a failure as a Democrat”?

Yves Talks With Zephyr Teachout, Challenger to Cuomo in New York Democratic Primary - Yves Smith - (transcript) Zephyr Teachout, with her running mate Tim Wu, is running against Democratic party fixture, the State governor Andrew Cuomo, and his lieutenant governor nominee Kathy Hochul. A corruption scandal has dented Cuomo’s ratings, transforming the Teachout/Wu challenge from quixotic to distantly plausible. You can read Lambert’s interview of Wu, who is famed as a net neutrality advocate, here.  Teachout is a Fordham assistant law professor and was digital director of the 2004 Dean campaign. I met her in 2011 near Zuccotti Park when Occupy Wall Street was out in force and she co-founded A New Way Forward, an initiative to break up major banks. Teachout is an old-fashioned liberal who favors restrictions on monopoly/oligopoly power, progressive taxation, supporting unions as a way to improve labor bargaining power, and strong social safety nets.

Leave the Fracking Gas in the Ground --  So says a new study being prepared on global warming.  Greenhouse Gas Emissions Growing More Dangerous, Draft of U.N. Report Says The report was drafted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists and other experts appointed by the United Nations that periodically reviews and summarizes climate research. It is not final and could change substantially before release. The report, intended to summarize and restate a string of earlier reports about climate change released over the past year, is to be unveiled in early November, after an intensive editing session in Copenhagen.  A late draft was sent to the world’s governments for review this week, and a copy of that version was obtained by The New York Times.  Using blunter, more forceful language than the reports that underpin it, the new draft highlights the urgency of the risks likely to be intensified by continued emissions of heat-trapping gases, primarily carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. The report found that companies and governments had identified reserves of these fuels at least four times larger than could safely be burned if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level. That means if society wants to limit the risks to future generations, it must find the discipline to leave the vast majority of these valuable fuels in the ground, the report said.

Shale is not a ponzi  - FT Alphaville - The FT’s Ed Crooks reported this week that fears over the long-term health of America’s shale industry could be put to rest thanks to news that independent oil and gas companies have now substantially improved their financial positions. From the story: Cash earned from operations by 25 leading North American exploration and production companies is expected in aggregate to exceed their capital spending next year for the first time since 2008, according to an analysis by Factset for the Financial Times. As Crooks recounts, the longstanding fear was that the industry was shaping up to be a Ponzi scheme, relying on nothing more than excitement over shale to continuously attract new investment, with every likelihood that things would cave in on themselves once the financing for more drilling ran out. Thanks to a shift to more profitable oil extraction over less profitable gas, however, it now looks like shale companies’ finances have improved enough to make the business sustainable. Cash shortfalls of about $32.2bn in 2012, and $8.8bn last year, notes Crooks, have now been transformed into a cash excess of about $2.4bn for the leading shale companies in the US.

Shale is not a ponzi, Part 2 --FT Alphaville -- In our last post, we referred to John Kemp’s argument that cash-flows in the shale drilling sector are not a good indicator of shale’s long-term commercial sustainability.  This, he argued, was due to the regular conflation of gas and oil in the metrics, justified by the fact that most companies produce some variety of both. In the last few years, however, producers have shifted their efforts increasingly towards oil production — due to the better margins — improving cash-flows as a result. Nevertheless, peak oilers still contend shale isn’t long-term sustainable because of the rapid decline rates for wells. These, they claim, are being depleted much more quickly than conventional wells, speaking of the problem in hand. Not so, according to Kemp, who is back on Friday with another column outlining the weird economics of shale. As Kemp explains (our emphasis):First, oil and gas producers have learned to drill and fracture wells much faster, using mass production techniques borrowed from manufacturing, so the same number of rigs and crews can drill many more wells than before. Second, the sceptics focus too much on the decline rate rather than the total amount of oil and gas recovered from a well over its lifetime, which is more relevant to the sustainability of the shale revolution. The relationship between initial production (IP), the decline rate (DR), and the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) is subject to a tremendous amount of uncertainty. It varies significantly from play to play, county to county and even well to well.But in general, producers want oil and gas wells with a large EUR, a high IP and a rapid decline rate, because that means they receive more revenue overall, and more of it in the first few months after the well is completed rather than having to wait years and years.

Research shows potential health risk to babies born near drilling - The first research into the effects of oil and gas development on babies born near wells has found potential health risks. Government officials, industry advocates and the researchers themselves say more studies are needed before drawing conclusions. While the findings are still preliminary, any documented hazards threaten to cast a shadow over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking -- the process of blasting chemicals, sand and water deep underground to extract fuel from rock that’s helped push the U.S. closer to energy self-sufficiency than at any time since 1985. “It’s not really well understood how the environment interacts with genetics to produce these birth defects,” said Lisa McKenzie of the Colorado School of Public Health, who conducted research published in January in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. “We really need to do more study to see what the association is, if any, with natural gas development.” McKenzie and her colleagues discovered more congenital heart defects in babies born to mothers living near gas wells in Colorado. Two studies, which have not been peer reviewed, showed infants born near fracking sites in Pennsylvania were more likely to have low birth weight, a sign of developmental problems. In Utah, local authorities are investigating a spate of stillbirths after tests found dangerous levels of air pollution from the oil and gas industry.

Brine firm sues over billboards: Youngstown Vindicator -  An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against “poisoned waters” on billboards opposing wells for disposal of gas-drilling wastewater is fighting a legal threat from the Texas well owner on free-speech grounds. Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals, of Coshocton in eastern Ohio, contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells, which dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling. The complaint by the company and Rodney Adams, who owns the land and operates the well site, contends the wells are safe, legal and meet all state safety standards. The parties object to statements on two billboards along U.S. Route 36, including one that “DEATH may come.” “The accusation that the wells will cause ‘DEATH’ is a baseless and malicious attempt to damage the reputations of the plaintiffs,” according to the complaint. “The billboards are also defamatory because they state or imply that Mr. Adams and Buckeye Brine are causing ‘poisoned waters’ to enter the drinking-water supply.”

243 cases in PA where fracking contaminated wells -- Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells. The Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday posted online links to the documents after the agency conducted a “thorough review” of paper files stored among its regional offices. The Associated Press and other news outlets have filed lawsuits and numerous open-records requests over the last several years seeking records of the DEP’s investigations into gas-drilling complaints. Pennsylvania’s auditor general said in a report last month that DEP’s system for handling complaints “was woefully inadequate” and that investigators could not even determine whether all complaints were actually entered into a reporting system. DEP didn’t immediately issue a statement with the online release, but posted the links on the same day that seven environmental groups sent a letter urging the agency to heed the auditor general’s 29 recommendations for improvement. The 243 cases, from 2008 to 2014, include some where a single drilling operation impacted multiple water wells. The problems listed in the documents include methane gas contamination, spills of wastewater and other pollutants, and wells that went dry or were otherwise undrinkable. Some of the problems were temporary, but the names of landowners were redacted, so it wasn’t clear if the problems were resolved to their satisfaction. Other complaints are still being investigated.

Fracking Has Contaminated Drinking Water In Pennsylvania 243 Times, State Agency Reports -- For the first time, Pennsylvania has made public 243 cases of contamination of private drinking wells from oil and gas drilling operations. As the AP reports, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection posted details about the contamination cases online on Thursday. The cases occurred in 22 counties, with Susquehanna, Tioga, Lycoming, and Bradford counties having the most incidences of contamination.  In some cases, one drilling operation contaminated the water of multiple wells, with water issues resulting from methane gas contamination, wastewater spills, and wells that simply went dry or undrinkable. The move to release the contamination information comes after years of the AP and other news outlets filing lawsuits and Freedom of Information Act requests from the DEP on water issues related to oil and gas drilling and fracking.The Pennsylvania DEP has been criticized for its poor record of providing information on fracking-related contamination to state residents. In April, a Pennsylvania Superior Court case claimed that due to the way DEP operates and its lack of public record, it’s impossible for citizens to know about cases where private wells, groundwater and springs are contaminated by drilling and fracking.  “The DEP must provide citizens with information about the potential harm coming their way,” John Smith, one of the attorneys representing municipalities in the lawsuit, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If it doesn’t record and make available the violations records then it is denying the public accurate information, which is unconscionable.”

The Big Fracking Lie Exposed. Again -- The Big Fracking Lie is that shale gas industrialization has never ever once polluted water.  Ever. Anywhere. Honest. When we all know that every fracking shale well will pollute the atmosphere and compromise the water supply sooner or later. Just a matter of how much, how soon. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has, under duress, finally released their list of water sources contaminated by shale gas industrialization: Just the ones that they will admit to. Just the ones that someone actually reported. Link to the DEP list of contaminated water wells:  Read more: DEP Releases Details of Water Contamination from Fracking: Six years into a natural gas boom, Pennsylvania has for the first time released details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells. The Department of Environmental Protection on Thursday posted online links to the documents since the agency conducted a “thorough review” of paper files stored among its regional offices. The Associated Press and other news outlets have filed lawsuits and numerous open-records requests during the past several years seeking records of investigations into gas-drilling complaints. DEP didn’t immediately issue a statement with the online release, but posted the links on the same day that seven environmental groups sent a letter urging the agency to heed the auditor general’s 29 recommendations for improvement.

Danger Beneath: 'Fracking' Gas, Oil Pipes Threaten Rural Residents - A construction boom of pipelines carrying explosive oil and natural gas from “fracking” fields to market -- pipes that are bigger and more dangerous than their predecessors -– poses a safety threat in rural areas, where they sometimes run within feet or yards of homes with little or no safety oversight, an NBC News investigation has found. The rapidly expanding network of pipes, known as “gathering lines,” carry oil and gas from fracking fields in many parts of the country to storage facilities and major “transmission lines.” They are subject to the same risks – corrosion, earthquakes, sabotage and construction accidents -- as transmission lines. But unlike those pipelines, about 90 percent of gathering lines do not fall under federal safety or construction regulations because they run through rural areas, the Government Accountability Office reported in 2012. Safety advocates and regulators have called for new regulations on the pipelines, but energy industry interests have pushed back. Any changes could be years away, if they happen at all, according to an analysis from the Congressional Research Service released early this month. The lack of oversight on rural gathering lines – historically low-pressure steel lines up to 12 inches around – was long justified by the perception that the risk of accidents was minimal. But the fracking boom has led to construction of new gathering lines that are both bigger and under higher pressure, making them virtually identical to transmission lines.

Energy group touts refining opportunities - With news of hydraulic fracturing regulations to be released soon, petrochemical manufacturers are making sure residents know of the energy opportunities throughout the state. “Illinois is in a unique position because of its energy portfolio,” said Sarah Magruder Lyle, vice president of strategic initiatives for American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers. “With the exception of hydropower, this is a state that produces and uses just about every kind of energy there is and with four refineries and plants and most of the production happening in this part of the state, it’s very important to us.” Following a stop in Effingham to speak with the East Central Illinois Development Corporation, Magruder Lyle said the key to taking advantage of the opportunities offered by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as well as other uses of energy is in job creation. However, she said many people are focused on the front end of the process while many of the job opportunities come from refinery and manufacturing of petrochemical products, such as plastics. “Our goal is to really draw that connection,” she said. “The opportunity is there. Illinois has started to put the pieces together to make sure hydraulic fracturing is done responsibly so that Illinois doesn’t miss an opportunity.” Creating the connection between employees at all levels of the industry isn’t the only piece the group wants people to see. Effingham’s location, as well as easy access to interstate highways, railroads and proximity to businesses that use petrochemical materials, most notably Sherwin-Williams in Flora and Effingham, were also important.

State Agency Issues Long-Awaited Fracking Rules — The Illinois Department of Natural Resources released a long-awaited plan Friday to regulate high-volume oil and gas drilling that supporters hope could bring an economic boost to southern Illinois but environmentalists fear may be too lenient.The lengthy report follows months of delays and complaints over the process to draft rules governing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Illinois. Industry officials say southern Illinois has rich deposits of natural gas, but a final draft of the rules — initially touted as a national model of both sides working together — has taken months for the agency to produce as industry groups warned the state was losing business.A 150-page report was given to the 12-member Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, which has 45 days to act, or the rules can take effect. Environmental groups, industry experts and lawmakers also got their first look at the report Friday, and some said they expect to spend hours, possibly days, combing through the details.“These are highly technical rules that will require a really close look at the details,” Josh Mogerman, spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said earlier Friday. “Our experts are going to be spending their holiday weekend going through these rules with a fine tooth comb.”The new rules would require companies awarded drilling permits to submit lists, some of them redacted, of the chemicals used in fracking. The redacted list would be made available to the public by department and be submitted to the public health department. The industry says releasing the full list would expose trade secrets.

Texas Proposes Tougher Rules On Fracking Wastewater After Earthquakes Surge --The agency that regulates oil and gas activity in Texas is considering new, tougher regulations governing the practice of injecting leftover water used to frack natural gas wells deep into the ground — a process which is believed to be responsible for an increase in human-caused earthquakes across the state. The Texas Railroad Commission’s new proposed regulations on wastewater injection wells were heard by members of the Texas House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Seismic Activity on Monday, following complaints that earthquakes have become more frequent over the last several years. Dr. Craig Pearson, the Railroad Commission’s new seismologist, told the subcommittee that the regulations would help make sure injected wastewater doesn’t migrate onto inactive fault lines and cause man-made quakes.“Because we’re now dealing with induced seismicity, the worry is not only about water moving up [to our groundwater] but out to dormant faults,” Pearson said, noting that current regulations are only designed to protect from groundwater contamination.The controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking,” uses a great deal more water than conventional drilling. .  The leftover wastewater used to frack the well is disposed of by injecting it deep underground, and scientists increasingly believe that this is causing man-made earthquakes — not only in Texas, but across the country. The large amount of water injected into the ground can change the state of stress on existing fault lines to the point of failure, scientists believe, causing earthquakes.

Fracking the Frackers Anti Fracking - Forbes has published the first of a two part series on “what’s behind the fractavist” movement – as if there has to be something “behind” what is clearly a grass-roots amorphous effort. The frackers and their spokesman have taken this tack from the outset- that someone or some organization – Gazprom, the Saudi royals, the Park Foundation – has to be “behind” anti fracking. That anti frackers are paid, that they are part of a conspiracy controlled from somewhere.  This delusory approach has always amused me. Because if there is some group behind the anti-fracking movement, my paycheck is way way late. They start this series by interviewing Dan Fitzsimmons ? Fitzsimmons is the head of a leasing group in New York, the Joint Landowners of New York, that sued that the State of New York over its supposed delay in issuing fracking regulations with legal expenses bankrolled by the Koch brothers. Fitzsimmons not only is not interested in learning the truths about fracking, he notoriously advised his members to stay away from the presentations we made on New York’s shale gas potential – which I lampooned as a Fracking Chickenhawk

Gov. Snyder to convene panel on Michigan's acceptance of low-level radioactive waste -- Gov. Rick Snyder today announced plans to form a panel of experts to look at the state’s standards for disposing of low-level radioactive materials. The announcement follows a Free Press article Tuesday on a Pennsylvania oil and gas development company’s plans to ship to a Belleville area hazardous waste landfill up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive sludge that’s a byproduct of the fracking process. The sludge was rejected by landfills in western Pennsylvania, and its later shipment to a landfill in West Virginia was halted by the state and voluntarily discontinued by the company, Range Resources, as West Virginia reforms its laws for handling such waste. The radioactivity, usually from the metal radium, accumulates from drill cuttings, the soil, rock fragments and pulverized material removed from a borehole that may include fluid from a drilling process. It also can be present in flowback water, which is the brine or other fluid injected into shale formations during Ohio and West Virginia, two states with more intensive fracking activity than Michigan, have strengthened regulations on how to store, treat, process and dispose of radioactive oil and gas drilling wastes. Pennsylvania also doesn’t allow the materials in its landfills. Each of the states leaves it to oil and gas developers to find a disposal site. As Ohio tightened its regulations, state officials listed the Wayne Disposal site in Van Buren Township as an option for Ohio drillers.

Michigan to review standards for radioactive waste allowed in Wayne County landfill — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder on Monday ordered a review of disposal standards for low-radioactivity drilling waste, and a Wayne County landfill that accepts the material announced it will voluntarily suspend disposal until the review is complete. The Detroit Free Press reported last week that up to 36 tons of “sludge” already rejected by other states was heading to the Wayne Disposal landfill near Belleville, which has had approval to accept the waste since 2006. Regulations are tightening in other states, according to the newspaper, making Michigan a more popular destination for “technologically-enhanced, naturally occurring radioactive materials” collected during hydraulic fracturing or other drilling operations. Michigan’s disposal regulations were established by an advisory committee in 1996, but with critics raising concerns over the potential impact on ground water, Snyder has directed the Department of Environmental Quality to assemble a panel of experts for review. “We remain deeply committed to protecting public health and Michigan’s precious water resources,” the governor said in a release.

Food Crops Pushed To The Side As Oil Trains Sail Through - In oil-rich North Dakota, farmers trying to get their crops to market are getting squeezed out of the rail transportation picture. Rail line congestion caused by the oil boom in the Bakken shale oil field of North Dakota and Montana is creating huge backlogs for farmers anxious to get wheat, soybeans, sugar beets, and other crops to markets, and it’s driving large production losses for big food companies like General Mills and Cargill. “This rail backlog is a national problem,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) told the New York Times. “The inability of farmers to get these grains to market is not only a problem for agriculture, but for companies that produce cereals, breads and other goods.” A study conducted by North Dakota State University at the request of Sen. Heitkamp found that farmers could lose more than $160 million in revenue because of crowded rail lines.The booming production of oil from the Bakken field has meant a huge increase in shipments by rail because the region is not well served by pipelines. About 75 percent of the Bakken production is shipped by rail, including about 400,000 barrels a day to the East Coast.

Steve Horn: State Dept. Overseers of Contentious Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Workaround Have Industry, Torture Ties - The Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and other green groups recently revealed that pipeline giant Enbridge got U.S. State Department permission in response to its request to construct a U.S.-Canada border-crossing tar sands pipeline without earning an obligatory Presidential Permit. Enbridge originally applied to the Obama State Department to expand capacity of its Alberta Clipper(now Line 67) pipeline in November 2012, but decided to avoid a “Keystone XL, take two” — or a years-long permitting battle — by creating a complex alternative to move nearly the same amount of diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) across the border. The move coincides with the upcoming opening for business of Enbridge's “Keystone XL” clone: the combination of the Alberta Clipper expansion (and now its alternative) on-ramp originating in Alberta and heading eventually to Flanagan, Ill., the Flanagan South pipeline running from Flanagan, Ill., to Cushing, Okla., and the Cushing, Okla., to the Port Arthur, Texas, Seaway Twin pipeline. Together, the three pieces will do what TransCanada's Keystone XLhopes to do: move dilbit from Alberta's tar sands to Port Arthur's refinery row and, in part, the global export market. Environmental groups have reacted with indignation to the State Department announcement published in the Federal Register on August 18, 2014. The public commenting period remains open until September 17, 2014.  Jim Murphy, senior counsel for NWF, referred to it as an “illegal scheme,” while a representative from says Enbridge has learned from the lessons of its corporate compatriot, TransCanada.

Oil spill that fouled Mexican river will take months to clean up - (Reuters) - An oil pipeline spill that contaminated a river in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon will take months to clean up, the country's top water authority said on Thursday. The 24-inch Madero-Cadereyta pipeline, owned by national oil company Pemex, was ruptured when thieves attempted to tap into it, the company said on Sunday. The pipeline feeds crude to Pemex's nearby Cadereyta refinery. David Korenfeld, head of Mexico's national water commission, told reporters in Mexico City that the spill extended across a 6 kilometer (4 mile) stretch of the Rio San Juan, but had been contained by floating barriers. "The clean-up of this stretch will take approximately two to three months," he said. Korenfeld added that residents near the contaminated parts of the river, located about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the state capital of Monterrey, were advised not to consume the water. true Pemex said in its statement on Sunday morning that an illegal tap on the pipeline caused the spill but that it had been controlled.

Did Demand Concerns Spark The Biggest Drop In US Oil Rig Count Since 2012? - Crude Oil and gasoline prices have been sliding notably recently, but, as Carl Larry, president of Oil Outlooks & Opinions LLC in Houston notes, "the focus is definitely on the U.S. and on concern about demand as we head into the maintenance season." While Brent remains more concerned about Russia and Ukraine, WTI is "focused on supply, demand fundamentals," which with production surging, leaves "everybody wondering if demand will stay steady. People are reducing risk exposure now." What we wonder is - does that explain why the US Oil Rig Count dropped this week by its most since 2012...?

Dearth of oil finds threatens long-term supplies, price (Reuters) - The rate of oil discoveries continues to disappoint after a record low last year and firms could even cut their exploration budgets to save on costs, a risk to long-term supplies and prices, industry executives said. Explorers are finding so little oil, many are retreating from high-risk frontier areas to safer bets like North American shale, executives at a major Norway oil conference said. This will likely force them to buy expensive discoveries once investor sentiment shifts focus to reserves from cash flow. "If you look back on 2013, it was a record low year in terms of discovering new resources," Helge Lund, the CEO of Norway's Statoil, said. "And year to date it's been around 4.4 billion barrels of oil equivalents, the lowest I have seen for decades." Last year only half as much crude was discovered as consumed, according to consultancy Wood Mackenzie. Big exploration campaigns in frontier places like West Africa and the Arctic Barents Sea have yielded little. Just last week Maersk oil, part of Danish shipping conglomerate A.P. Moller-Maersk said it would virtually cease exploration in Brazil and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico after an impairment and dry wells, even though its reserves equal just 4.6 years of production, below an average of 5-10 years for its peers.

Oilprice Intelligence Report: BP Corruption Update, Latest Deals & Alerts: Anti-corruption group Global Witness is claiming a lack of transparency in Angola’s use of payments by BP and its partners for a development project. BP and partners including Cobalt International Energy agreed to contribute $350 million, in installments, to be used for a research and technology center, Global Witness said in a statement. BP and Cobalt agreed in December 2011 to provide $350 million to construct a research institute in Angola, as a condition of gaining drilling rights for an offshore block of the African country's coast. So far, the companies have paid half that amount, and the anti-corruption group maintains that there is no indication that the project exists. A new report from the US-based Natural Resource Governance Institute alleges that sub-Saharan governments are selling crude in dubious deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars without accounting for them. The report says that sub-Saharan Africa’s top 10 oil-producing countries have sold more than $254 billion in crude through their state-owned oil companies over the past three years, and that the biggest purchasers were large Swiss trading firms, including Glencore, Arcadia and Trafigura. These three accounted for one-quarter of the aforementioned purchases between 2011 and 2013. The institute is calling for new regulations for nationally owned oil companies and big trading firms to disclose their oil deals. “The sales to Swiss traders were worth an estimated $55 billion - more than twice as much money as these 10 countries - Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d‘Ivoire, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria and South Sudan - received in net foreign aid,” the report said.

LatAm Allies struggle as Venezuela’s free oil runs dry - — Venezuela’s shipments of crude oil and fuel to its allies have fallen to a five-year low as a weak economy hits its ability to uphold accords that former president Hugo Chávez struck to lower energy costs for friends and expand his diplomatic clout. Total shipments under cooperation deals with Latin American and Caribbean countries dropped 11 percent in 2013 to 243,000 barrels per day (bpd), the lowest level since 2007, according to recent data from Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA. Several factors are behind the decline: lower oil output and weak economic growth at home, a domestic refinery network that has not fully recovered from a severe accident in 2012, and financing agreements with China that divert much of the OPEC nation’s oil production to Asia. Some of the beneficiaries of the cheap oil are now being forced to turn to other sources. In the eights months through August, countries from Jamaica to Argentina that have supply pacts with Venezuela have bought 140 cargoes of crude, components and fuel for transport and power generation on the open market, according to tender information compiled by Reuters. More than two thirds of those were for Ecuador, one of Venezuela’s closest allies. The purchases, which have left tankers in short supply, are far costlier than oil obtained through long-term pacts.

Energy reform could increase Mexico’s long-term oil production by 75% - On August 11, Mexico's president signed into law legislation that will open its oil and natural gas markets to foreign direct investment, effectively ending the 75-year-old monopoly of state-owned Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). These laws, which follow previously adopted changes in Mexico's constitution to eliminate provisions that prohibited direct foreign investment in that nation's oil and natural gas sector, are likely to have major implications for the future of Mexico's oil production profile. As a result of the developments in Mexico over the past year, EIA has revised its expectations for long-term growth in Mexico's oil production. The changes in EIA's assessment of Mexico's liquids production profile are profound. Last year's International Energy Outlook projected that Mexico's production would continue to decline from 3.0 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in 2010 to 1.8 MMbbl/d in 2025 and then struggle to remain in the range of 2.0 to 2.1 MMbbl/d through 2040. The forthcoming Outlook, which assumes some success in implementing the new reforms, projects that Mexico's production could stabilize at 2.9 MMbbl/d through 2020 and then rise to 3.7 MMbbl/d by 2040—about 75% higher than in last year's outlook. Actual performance could still differ significantly from these projections because of the future success of reforms, resource and technology 

Domestic companies cheer ruling on steel imports: Domestic steelmakers are cheering the recent finding by the International Trade Commission that they’ve been harmed by cheap imports of steel used in oil and gas exploration. The ruling allows the Department of Commerce to impose tariffs on imports of steel goods from India, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam – potentially leveling the playing field for domestic steelmakers. The steel pipe is used mainly in drilling oil and gas wells and has figured heavily in the recent U.S. energy exploration boom. The shale oil fields in eastern Ohio, for example, are providing growing opportunity for hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – and other means of domestic energy production. Imports accounted for nearly 40 percent of the 7 million tons of oil country tubular goods consumed in 2013. Last year, the U.S. market was worth about $10.1 billion and 8,910 workers’ employment was tied to the U.S. production of oil country tubular goods. “They have sent a clear message that we are open to trade from all, as long as it is fair,” . “It is unfortunate that we had to scale back operations due to the unfairly traded imports. On a level playing field, we can compete with anyone.” He expects to see relief in price competition by year’s end.

Fractavist Decks Frackman in Bar -- Matt Ryan was Binghamton’s mayor when they passed a fracking ban. Vic Furman, aka Frackman notorious for mooning people and drinking frack flowback at demonstration, is a pr0-fracking blogger. They ran into each other in a bar, and this is what transpired  . . .

New York’s Largest Fracking Chickenhawk Admits to Indecent Exposure - After the Showdown in the Bar with fractavist mayor Matt Ryan, Vic Furman, aka “Frackman” admits to indecent exposure. On camera. At a peaceful anti fracking demonstration – that included children. Here’s the news coverage on New York’s largest fracking chickenhawk, who is seeking a restraining order against a man that he outweighs by 150 pounds:
Direct link to video: tp://
Raw video of the incident:  ttps://

Sunday, August 24, 2014

fracking news from Ohio, several states and countries

early this past week there was news of two river spills but neither of them involved fracking...the truly large spill was of 10 million gallons of concentrated sulfuric acid from a major copper mining operation in Mexico near Arizona that so far has contaminated a 124 mile stretch of the Sonora River, resulting in the closure of 88 Mexican schools and warnings to the citizenry not to touch the river, which has turned a bright orange...the smaller spill was of 8000 gallons of diesel fuel from a Duke Energy power plant just up the Ohio river from Cincinnati....fortunately, the Cincy water department was warned and quickly shut down their water intakes to allow the river to clear...what's notable about this incident is that the news coverage indicates it's the second time this year that Cincinnati had to shut the intakes, the first being the result of the W Virginia spill of MCHM into the Elk River early this year...if it's just the second time, that would suggest that they did not get the warning to shut their intakes for the Monroe County fracking pad fire & spill of fracking fluid that caused a major fish kill in an Ohio river tributary that ODNR did not investigate until 5 days after the fact...

an odd Ohio story that garnered quite a bit of national coverage first seemed so minor that i skipped over it the first few times i saw it...apparently, a Texas brine disposal company has filed defamation of character suit against Michael Boals of Coshocton, who posted anti-fracking messages on two area billboards, which included supposedly offensive phrases such as "poisoned waters": and "death may come"...what's particularly strange about the suit is that the waste disposal company, "Buckeye Brine", wasn't even named on the billboards, which seems to suggest that they're alleging that Mr Boals was defaming the character of their injection's hard to figure out what this means legally; we know that in "Citizens United" and other cases, the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are people when it comes to campaign spending and influencing elections...maybe Buckeye Brine is taking this concept the next step further, alleging that their injection wells have human like characteristics and get their feelings hurt when someone calls them names...we'd better watch out; next thing we know, those injection wells will be asking for the right to vote...

speaking of injection wells, Oklahoma got hit with 20 earthquakes in one day on Tuesday; most were fairly minor, but there was one plaster cracking 4.3...before the oil & gas companies started pumping their liquid wastes into the ground beneath their feet, Oklahomans were seeing just 2 earthquakes a year statewide...

once again, we'll start with the Ohio news...

Buy The Drip: Thousands Of Gallons Of Oil Spill Into Ohio River Upstream Of Cincinnati -- Lately it is not just trains blowing up across the country in the ongoing effort to prove just how safer rail transport is for crude oil transit compared to pipelines: as citizens of Cincinatti found out this morning, their drinking water may come with an added kick after thousands of gallons of diesel fuel spilled out onto the Ohio River after an incident at a power plant early Tuesday. According to WCPO, the Coast Guard said it estimated about 8,000 gallons of fuel spilled out from Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord power station outside of Cincinnati. The bad news for Ohians, especially those living in Cincinatti, is that the spill took place upstream, and rather close to the city: The spill was first reported at about 12:20 a.m. Tuesday. The plant is about 20 miles southeast but upstream of Cincinnati. Duke Energy later released a statement saying the spill happened at about 11:15 p.m. Monday. The company said the spill happened during a routine transfer of fuel oil. Duke estimated about 5,000 gallons was discharged into the river. Crews were able to stop the release by 11:30 p.m.  Duke said it notified local, state and environmental agencies promptly to take action.

Duke Energy plant fuel spill: EPA says drinking water safe after diesel spilled into Ohio River - – Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley said Tuesday the region's drinking water is safe despite thousands of gallons of diesel fuel spilling into the Ohio River late Monday.Tony Parrott, head of Greater Cincinnati Water Works, said the department was notified of the spill just after midnight. Parrott said crews shut down the Ohio River intakes quickly so the spill was not taken in. He said the fuel reached Water Works at about 7 a.m. Duke Energy officials expect the fuel to pass the region's intakes by late Tuesday night.  This is the second time this year a foreign substance has invaded the Ohio River, causing local intakes to close. In January, a chemical leak from West Virginia made its way to the Tri-State. Greater Cincinnati Water Works officials identified that chemical as Crude MCHM, or 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol. The U.S. Coast Guard is also still considering whether it will allow oil and gas companies to ship fracking waste on barges down the Ohio River and other rivers under its jurisdiction. Officials are mining through public comments from supporters who think barges are the most efficient way to move the chemical-and-sand-infused byproduct, and from opponents who fear the waste could spill into drinking water.

Potential oil window is last gasp for Utica Shale - Jim McKinney, senior vice president and general manager from EnerVest, a Houston-based company, said his company believes that with changes in drilling techniques, activity will increase in the oil-rich northern part of the Utica Shale, which includes Trumbull County. “When companies first drilled, they were using the same techniques they were using in the dry- and wet-gas areas of the Utica,” he said. EnerVest has found in Tuscarawas and Guernsey counties that by using more water and sand in the fracking process, there can be success in the oil-rich portions of the Utica, McKinney said. “Oil has different molecules than gas,” he said. Companies were using 200 feet to 250 feet spacing between injections, but for the oil area it needs to be shorter, about 150 feet, McKinney said. “It allows the oil to move more freely toward the well bore,” he said. If the tests for EnerVest are successful, there will be companies interested in leasing land in Trumbull and Stark counties, McKinney said. Trumbull and Stark counties are thought to be areas with oil-rich shale. The sections of the Utica can be divided into the dry-gas area, which is located around Belmont, Harrison and other counties in the southeast part of the state. Then there is the wet-gas area, which includes Carroll County and the sections of Ohio where most of the drilling activity has taken place. Finally, there is expected oil-rich section on the edge of the shale, which no company has successfully exploited at this time.

Study: Ohio could add 16000 jobs, $2.68 billion to the state economy - An update on lawmaker action and other activities at the Ohio Statehouse related to horizontal hydraulic fracturing:

  • • New Study: A report by ICT International and EnSys Energy and touted by the American Petroleum Institute projected that Ohio could add nearly 16,000 jobs and $2.68 billion to the state economy by 2020 “if restrictions on U.S. crude exports were lifted.” “Restrictions on exports only limit our potential as a global energy superpower,”
  • • State Land Frack Plan: A Democratic state lawmaker reiterated his calls for an investigation of Gov. John Kasich’s administration after public records revealed meetings to develop a marketing plan for horizontal drilling on state-owned lands continued after officials said they had abandoned the idea.
  • • Not Enough: Policy Matters Ohio, a liberal think tank, released a report showing that a plan to reform the state’s tax rates on horizontal drilling would reduce related collections by millions of dollars. HB 375 passed the Ohio House but was not moved in the Senate before lawmakers broke for their summer recess.
  • • Frack Penalty Bill Stalled: The severance-tax legislation wasn’t the only oil and gas-related bill to stall.

Lawmakers also have not yet acted on HB 490, which would expand the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ authority to revoke or suspend drilling and related activities of those who break the state’s environmental regulations.

Protest dismissed, but no drilling in Wayne anyway -- The U.S. Department of the Interior has dismissed a protest against oil and gas drilling in the Wayne National Forrest but also has decided against allowing any such drilling. In 2011, five parcels within the Wayne were listed in a Competitive Lease Sale Notice, drawing 34 letters of protest against the inclusion of this land in lease sales for potential drilling. A month later in 2011, the U.S. Forest Service asked the Bureau of Land Management, within the Department of the Interior, to withdraw those parcels, and just days after that, they were deleted from the sale. This history of events was not relayed to various Athens County officials and area anti-fracking protesters until a letter from the BLM dated July 21, 2014 and noted as received by the city of Athens on Aug. 1. The letter explains that the protest of the leasing of these parcels has been dismissed as moot because the parcels in question were deleted from the sale. "There is no other decision that can be provided," the letter states. Potential leasing of land for drilling in the Wayne National Forrest was opposed by Athens city and county officials, anti-fracking activists, and Ohio University, where President Roderick McDavis sent a letter saying that OU was "unable to support a practice that is not strictly regulated and highly accountable."

Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program for teacher training avoids Radio Disney dustup - Interest in an oil and gas industry-funded program for teachers keeps growing. As Ohio’s Utica shale fuels unprecedented oil and gas drilling in the state, more Ohio teachers are interested in a workshop put on by the organization funded by the state’s oil and natural gas companies. But with the fracking-fueled industry’s growth comes increasing opposition from people worried about the industry’s impact on the environment. The group, the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program, came under fire earlier this year for its affiliation with Radio Disney. Critics accused OOGEEP of trying to indoctrinate kids with pro-drilling propaganda. But the group’s leader says she’s not had similar pushback with the teachers’ workshop. “There’s no propaganda,” Executive Director Rhonda Reda told me. “They have to learn about porosity and permeability, period. They have to learn about geology, period. These are things that are required.”

Brine firm sues over biblical fracking billboard - (AP) - An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against "poisoned waters" on billboards opposing wells for disposal of gas-drilling wastewater is fighting a legal threat from the Texas well owner on free-speech grounds. Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals, of Coshocton in eastern Ohio, contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells, which dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling. The complaint by the company and Rodney Adams, who owns the land and operates the well site, contends the wells are safe, legal and meet all state safety standards. The parties object to statements on two billboards along U.S. Route 36, including one that "DEATH may come." "The accusation that the wells will cause 'DEATH' is a baseless and malicious attempt to damage the reputations of the plaintiffs," according to the complaint. "The billboards are also defamatory because they state or imply that Mr. Adams and Buckeye Brine are causing 'poisoned waters' to enter the drinking water supply."

'Poisoned waters' billboard sparks Ohio well fight: – An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against "poisoned waters" on billboards opposing a local deep-injection gas well is fighting a legal threat from the Texas well owner on free-speech grounds. Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals, of Coshocton, contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells, which dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling. The complaint by the company and Rodney Adams, who owns the land and operates the well site, contends the Coshocton well is safe, legal and meets all state safety standards. The parties object to statements on two billboards along U.S. Route 36, including one that "DEATH may come." "The accusation that the wells will cause 'DEATH' is a baseless and malicious attempt to damage the reputations of the plaintiffs," according to the complaint. "The billboards are also defamatory because they state or imply that Mr. Adams and Buckeye Brine are causing 'poisoned waters' to enter the drinking water supply." Shale oil and gas drilling employing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, produces millions of gallons of chemical-laced wastewater. The liquid, called brine, is a mix of chemicals, saltwater, naturally occurring radiation and mud. It's considered unsafe for ground water and aquifers, so Ohio regulations require waste liquid to be contained and injected deep underground.

Critics: Ohio case fits wider pattern of quieting fracking foes -- A lawsuit filed by an Ohio company last month seeks to remove two anti-fracking billboards near a wastewater site it operates. While the case is a test of free speech, critics say it also reflects a broader reluctance for businesses and regulatory agencies in the state to adequately inform citizens about shale gas activities and address their concerns. Ohio’s regulatory environment is allowing rapid expansion of the shale gas industry. The state’s natural gas production nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013. And shale wastewater injection for 2013 was up more than 2 million barrels from the previous year. Critics say the system fast-tracks permits for activities related to shale gas at the expense of public comment and citizen input.  Growth in the industry is “happening in a way that communities are not necessarily always well-informed,” said Megan Lovett, a lawyer with Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services in Pittsburgh. Lovett believes that situation makes it even more important to defend concerned citizens’ right to speak out. Her firm is currently consulting with defense counsel in the Ohio lawsuit.

Environmentalists split over green group's fracking industry ties - In 2012, when Ohio’s Senate passed a controversial hydraulic fracturing bill that was supported by the oil and gas industry, environmental groups lined up against it, saying it would endanger public health. But during hearings on the bill, it gained one seemingly unlikely supporter: the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), one of the nation’s largest green groups. The bill supported renewable energy development but it also contained several items other environmental groups said were giveaways to the industry: It allowed fracking companies to keep private the chemicals they used in fracking, changed the required distance for contamination testing around a well from 300 feet to 1,500 feet, and prevented doctors from sharing information that might be considered trade secrets, even if it was in the interest of public health. But a new report suggests that at least in some cases, environmental organizations’ work with the industry may cross ethical lines, and at worst become tacit support of industry-backed positions.  The new report, released by Buffalo-based non-profit Public Accountability Initiative, focuses on one group called the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which is a partnership between gas drilling companies, environmental groups and other nonprofits. Among the report’s findings: the group’s executive director, Susan Packard LeGros, is a former oil industry lawyer who worked with oil, gas and chemical companies. One of the group’s board members, Jared Cohon, also worked at a similar group called the Center for Indoor Air Research, which was found to have strong ties to tobacco companies. And one of the group’s new supporters, the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, was started by a titan of the oil and gas industry.

Environmental Defense Frauds Back Boehner Parrot -- The Rent-a-Green Environmental Defense Frauds who brought us the Sustainable Shale Shamstitute, are now running industry funded green-washing campaign ads in favor pseudo pro-environmental Republicans, including Boehner Parrot Chris Gibson.   The EDF gets donations from the frackers, then run ads in favor of pro-fracking Congressman – that’s how green-washing works. As even a casual political observer knows, the era of the moderate Republican is over, especially in the House of Representatives. The Republican House has made a fetish of attacking the environment. It has passed innumerable bills to strip the EPA of its authority and funding and to handicap the regulatory process. And so it was bewildering on Thursday when the Environmental Defense Action Fund (EDF Action), the Environmental Defense Fund’s campaign arm, began dropping $250,000 on ads supporting Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican from upstate New York who is facing a self-financing Democratic challenger, Sean Eldridge. (Eldridge is the husband of Facebook cofounder andNew Republic publisher Chris Hughes.)  This is just the beginning of EDF Action’s efforts to help elect Republicans. As Politico notes, “The Environmental Defense Action Fund is rolling out a seven-figure ad campaign to aid green-minded Republicans in the midterm elections, part of a longer-term effort to find GOP partners on priorities like climate change. … The group hasn’t publicly identified other Republicans it plans to support in its 2014 effort, which it says is worth around $1 million so far.”

FEMA halts flood assistance for properties with gas leases - — In fall 2011, about a month after the flooded Meshoppen Creek spilled over its banks and into their basement, Pete and Sharon Morgan applied for federal flood assistance to help them move out of their home. They won’t get it, at least not anytime soon, due to a little-known policy the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued May 5. It’s because of their gas lease with Chief Oil & Gas LLC. FEMA indefinitely banned the use of hazard mitigation assistance money for properties that could eventually host horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, even if the leases don’t allow for development on the surface. Under its hazard mitigation assistance program, FEMA pays to acquire properties in flood zones or reduce flood risks by raising or relocating structures. The agency creates these incentives so it doesn’t have to return with disaster dollars after every flood event. The property title usually goes to local governments, which can use it as open space, allowing floodplains or wetlands to act as natural flood buffers. The Morgans are one of eight households in Pennsylvania — five in Wyoming County and three in Lycoming County, according to the state Emergency Management Agency — whose applications for hazard mitigation assistance won’t yield payouts because of their gas leases.

Doctors Outraged By Claims That Health Officials Ignored Residents Sickened By Drilling - Pennsylvania doctors, nurses, and health policy experts are calling for a statewide investigation into claims that the state Department of Health has a policy of telling its employees never to talk to residents who complain of negative health effects from fracking, according to letter sent to state Gov. Tom Corbett and other elected officials on Tuesday. The letter — spearheaded by the groups Physicians for Social Responsibility, Alliance of Nurses for Health Environments, and PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center, and signed by more than 400 individual health professionals — says doctors and nurses statewide are “very concerned” about a story published in NPR’s StateImpact Pennsylvania this June. In that story, two retired employees of the health department said they were instructed not to return phone calls from citizens who said they may be experiencing sickness from fracking and other natural gas development.  The letter calls for an independent investigation into the claims, and reform of the health department’s response procedures.  “When it comes to fracking, the DOH has done little to prevent exposure or lead policy development,” “The PA DOH does not provide accurate data to address the health needs of fracking communities, thereby hindering research, and permitting poor decisions to be made based on inaccurate information.” According to the groups’ letter, the DOH has not done enough since StateImpact’s revelations that the agency may be mishandling citizen complaints.

Fracking could threaten air quality, workers' health, latest report says - Maryland’s latest report on the impact of proposed natural gas exploration in the western part of the state said drilling could pose a threat to air quality and workers in a region that is ecologically pristine.But the report, presented to a state commission Monday, said the process called hydraulic fracturing would pose little threat of earthquakes, which were triggered recently in central Oklahoma by gas-drilling operations, according to researchers, and are of concern to environmentalists.The report is the second of three called for under Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2011 executive order to study hydraulic fracturing, an unconventional horizontal drilling process also referred to as fracking. O’Malley (D) said studies of drilling impacts were required before a natural gas well could be built in Maryland. A third and final study funded by the Natural Resources and Environment departments is expected soon.  Several oil and gas companies have sought drilling permits and leased private land in hopes of exploring natural gas opportunities in remote Garrett County, home to the popular Deep Creek Lake. Their aim is to build wells in the Marcellus Shale, a 95,000-square-mile rock formation that stretches from Ohio to Virginia, where gas has been entombed for about 380 million years.

How Fracking In Maryland Would Threaten The Health Of Anyone Who Breathes Nearby - Fracking in Maryland would pose a risk of harmful air pollution and would bring jobs that could be dangerous for workers, a new report has found. The report, published by the University of Maryland and commissioned by a 2011 executive order by Gov. Martin O’Malley, looked at the risks that fracking would bring to Maryland, a state that so far doesn’t have any natural gas wells. The report ranked the likelihood that several risks associated with fracking, including dangers to air quality and occupational health as well as the prospect of worsening noise and the threat of earthquakes, will pose problems in Maryland.  The report is the second of three reports on fracking in the state, with the third, which will be funded by the Department of the Environment and the Department of Natural Resources, expected soon. The reports are part of Gov. O’Malley’s Marcellus Shale Safe Drilling Initiative, which aims to uncover the costs and benefits natural gas drilling would bring to Maryland.  The report singled out worker health a concern for the prospect of fracking in Maryland. Though fracking would bring jobs to Maryland, the report reads, those jobs are more dangerous than others, promising a “greater risk of harmful occupational exposures than many other industries in Maryland.”  “Of particular concern are exposures to crystalline silica, hydrogen sulfide, and diesel particulate matter, as well as fatalities from truck accidents, which accounted for 49% of oil and gas extraction fatalities in 2012,” the report reads. It goes on to cite the social dangers the fracking industry poses, including “mental distress, suicide, stress, and substance abuse.”

Fracking Fluids More Toxic Than Previously Thought - A new study of the fluids used in the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows that several of them may not be as safe as the energy industry says they are, and some are downright toxic. A team of researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and University of the Pacific looked at more than just the process of fracking – which involves injecting water mixed with chemicals into underground rock formations to extract gas and crude oil. In theirreport, the researchers list the chemicals that are most often used, based on industry reports and databases. Among them were “gelling agents to thicken the fluids, biocides to keep microbes from growing, sand to prop open tiny cracks in the rocks and compounds to prevent pipe corrosion.” The story so far has been that fracking is an environmentally safe way to extract oil and gas from underground deposits trapped in shale. Yet fracking has also been met with opposition because of reports of contaminated well water and increased air pollution around drilling sites. Further, the injection of wastewater into disposal wells at fracking sites has been linked to earthquakes. Stringfellow’s team found that fracking fluid is, in fact, mixed with plenty of food-grade and other non-toxic materials, but some of them may not be safe. At the recent 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the team reported that eight of the compounds are toxic to mammals. “There are a number of chemicals, like corrosion inhibitors and biocides in particular, that are being used in reasonably high concentrations that potentially could have adverse effects,” Stringfellow said. “Biocides, for example, are designed to kill bacteria. It’s not a benign material.”

Study Finds 8 Fracking Chemicals Toxic to Humans -- Fracking is once again in trouble. Scientists have found that what gets pumped into hydrocarbon-rich rock as part of the hydraulic fracture technique to release gas and oil trapped in underground reservoirs may not be entirely healthy. Environmental engineer William Stringfellow and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory told the American Chemical Society meeting in San Francisco that they scoured databases and reports to compile a list of the chemicals commonly used in fracking. Such additives, which are necessary for the extraction process, include: acids to dissolve minerals and open up cracks in the rock; biocides to kill bacteria and prevent corrosion; gels and other agents to keep the fluid at the right level of viscosity at different temperatures; substances to prevent clays from swelling or shifting; distillates to reduce friction; acids to limit the precipitation of metal oxides.  Some of these compounds—for example, common salt, acetic acid and sodium carbonate—are routinely used in households worldwide. But the researchers assembled a list of 190 of them, and considered their properties. For around one-third of them, there was very little data about health risks, and eight of them were toxic to mammals.

At Least 10 Percent Of Fracking Fluid Is Toxic -- At least 10 percent of the contents of fracking fluid injected into the earth is toxic. For another third we have no idea. And that’s only from the list of chemicals the fracking industry provided voluntarily. That’s according to an analysis by William Stringfellow of Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, reported in Chemistry World. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the practice of injecting fluid at high pressure into the earth, which breaks up oil- and gas-filled rock formations that is then extracted to the surface. The contents and makeup of that fluid have been a subject of controversy, largely because drilling companies are able to keep what’s in it a secret, and because the fluid has been known to leak and spill on a regular basis.  Stringfellow mostly used FracFocus’ voluntary registry of 250 fracking chemicals provided by the industry to check against existing toxicology information. He found that about 10 percent of the chemicals are known to be hazardous “in terms of mammalian or aquatic toxicology,” Stringfellow said at the a meeting of the American Chemical Society. But for almost a third of those 250 chemicals, there’s no publicly available information on their toxicity to humans or other life. And that’s not even counting the chemicals that the industry can simply choose to keep a secret.  FracFocus was in the news last week when drilling companies came under scrutiny for injecting diesel fuel into the earth to frack oil and gas, something for which they are supposed to have a permit. When that came to light, many companies simply went back and removed past mentions of injecting diesel.

Texas Judge Throws Out Family’s Lawsuit That Blames Nosebleeds, Asthma On Fracking Fumes -- A Texas family claiming they were severely sickened by air pollution from two companies’ hydraulic fracturing operations near their home had their lawsuit against the companies thrown out last week, in the second high-profile decision to come down this year alleging sickness from fracking operations in the state.In a ruling reported by Inside Climate News, District Judge Stella Saxon agreed with Marathon Oil Corp. and Plains Exploration & Production that Mike and Myra Cerny did not have enough scientific or medical proof that emissions of benzene, methane, and 14 other chemicals alleged to be contaminating their air were causing their myriad health problems, which included frequent nosebleeds, bone pain, and rashes. The Cernys’ home sits atop the Eagle Ford Shale in Karnes County, Texas.The ruling comes just a few months after a different family won $2.95 million in a separate Texas court on a lawsuit with similar claims. In that case, a jurydecided that fracking operations near Bob and Lisa Parr’s home, located atop the Barnett Shale in Allison, Texas, were responsible for symptoms such as chronic nose bleeding, irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, and open sores.

The Fracking Media Circus - A new study from Stanford University scientists finds no direct evidence of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing in Wyoming, but points out concerns that some fracking is being undertaken at very shallow depths, and sometimes through underground sources of drinking water.As generally happens with independent studies—or any ‘significant’ body of literature from the beginning of time—those with black and white polarization tendencies, espoused through the media, can skew the study to one or the other side of the fracking debate, which has taken on circus-like proportions, much like the climate change debate.  Most recently, Colorado state senator Randy Baumgardner, a Republican, told media that based on his knowledge obtained from “a lot of fracking seminars”, methane gas—a potent, highly flammable greenhouse gas released during fracking operations—did not pose a risk to water supplies, as proven by its ancient use by Native American Indians. “They talk about methane in the water and this, that, and the other,” Baumgardner was quoted as saying, “but if you go back in history and look at how the Indians traveled, they traveled to the burning waters. And that was methane in the waters and that was for warmth in the wintertime. So a lot of people, if they just trace back the history, they’ll know how a lot of this is propaganda.” At the same time, environmental watchdogs are hitting back with reports that energy companies are illicitly using thousands of gallons of diesel in fracking processes, skipping the federally required permit process.

Oklahoma Gets Hit With 20 Earthquakes In One Day - Oklahoma’s Geology Survey recorded an unprecedented 20 small earthquakes across the state on Tuesday, highlighting the dramatic increase of seismic activity that has occurred there as the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing — otherwise known as fracking — has spread across the state.  Though 18 out of the 20 earthquakes that occurred Tuesday were below Magnitude 3, rendering them mostly imperceptible, the largest one registered as a 4.3 near Guthrie, a city of more than 10,000 residents. And while U.S. Geological Survey scientists have said that Oklahoma is historically known as “earthquake country,” they also warn that quakes have been steadily on the rise; from 1978 until 2008, the average rate of earthquakes registering a magnitude of 3.0 or more was only two per year. “No documented cases of induced seismicity have ever come close to the current earthquake rates or the area over which the earthquakes are occurring,” the Oklahoma Geology Survey said in a recent presentation addressing the alarming increase in quakes. By “induced seismicity,” the OGS is referring to minor earthquakes that are caused by human activity, whether that be fracking, mass removal mining, reservoir impoundment, or geothermal production — anything that could disrupt existing fault lines.

Earthquakes near deep-earth wells raise concerns - — A series of small but unusual earthquakes near a well being pumped full of liquid drilling waste north of Denver has reignited a debate about the impacts of oil and gas development near homes.Colorado isn't normally earthquake territory, but aggressive drilling and pumping here and across the country may be changing that, contributing to the debate about what costs we're willing to bear to achieve energy independence. "What we have seen since about 2009 has been a steady increase of the rate of earthquake activity in parts of the country that normally are seismically quiet," said Bill Ellsworth, a seismologist with the United States Geological Survey. "This is something very anomalous and we have no natural analogue of what's going on in the rest of the world." The rise of small quakes, most too small to be felt, appears to mirror the country's booming petroleum production. Oklahoma and Texas have both seen unusual "swarms" of quakes that scientists say appear to be linked to oil production efforts, even though most experts are reluctant to draw direct connections.

Despite Compromise, Colorado’s Fracking Fight Rages On  — An 11th-hour compromise brokered by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) to keep contentious oil and gas measures off the November election ballot may simply delay the day of reckoning for both sides in the battle over how tightly the booming industry is regulated. That epic battle, pitting the oil and gas industry and Colorado’s mainstream political establishment against activists concerned that drilling and fracking have gotten out of hand in Colorado, had been building for months, with the airwaves awash in pro-industry advertising seeking to characterize the industry as benign and economically valuable. One prominent pollsterpredicted that industry spending on the issue through the November election would be in the range of $30 to $40 million, three times what oil and gas interests spent to defeat a 2008 ballot question that would have raised their taxes. But the electoral clash was averted as Hickenlooper and ballot question backer Rep. Jared Polis (D) declared a truce. Key to the deal is the appointment of an 18-member commission — expected to be named as early as this week — that will have the delicate task of recommending to the legislature ways to resolve conflicts between the oil and gas industry and citizens increasingly alarmed by energy development close to their homes and communities.  But any consensus recommendations that emerge from the commission — composed of six representatives each of the industry, civic leaders, and people directly affected by oil and gas development — will have to be approved by what is likely to be a deeply divided state legislature.

Commentary: BLM selling out ranchers to make way for Big Oil?: Rangeland health, drought, wild horse management and oil exploration are interconnected and inter-dependent on water in Northeastern Nevada, as well as other regions of the U.S. With varying allotments budgeted by BLM, I have grave concerns during these drought times for BLM’ s priorities. Are our permitted grazing allotments being tagged as potential oil exploration allotments? Is BLM seeing $$$ signs for the oil and gas competitive lease sales? Currently competitive BLM lease sales numbered 44 parcels in Elko County and 102 parcels or 174,021.36 acres in Battle Mountain. How many oil exploration allotments will compromise current grazing allotments and natural habitat for sage grouse? From Sunset Magazine, April 2014: “In the Monterrey Shale assessment, the BLM auctioned their mineral rights to Vintage Production California, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum.” There is not enough water for the ranchers or the wine growers in the area so where is their priority of water placed? Since quantities of water are needed for both grazing allotments and oil exploration allotments, I wonder if pushing cattle off allotments clears the way for better lease sales to oil companies who will need large quantities of water? They certainly are not going to fence the grazing allotments to keep cattle off their roads. I am told that there is multiple use for our federal lands and that grazing and oil exploration can happen side by side. Sure they can if there is enough water for both and the oil trucks won’ t run down the cattle.

Michigan landfill taking other states' radioactive fracking waste -- As other states ban landfills from accepting low-level radioactive waste, up to 36 tons of the sludge already rejected by two other states was slated to arrive in Michigan late last week. Wayne Disposal landfill located between Willow Run Airport and I-94 near Belleville is one of the few landfills in the eastern and Midwestern U.S. licensed to accept the radioactive waste, which has been collected by a Pennsylvania hydraulic fracking operation. As regulations tighten in other states, companies are turning to Michigan as the radioactive sludge’s dumping ground. It was unclear Monday whether the waste had arrived and multiple messages seeking comment from Wayne landfill officials were not returned. State environmental regulators were not involved with the delivery but said that the companies appeared to be following carefully prescribed regulations. Though the radiation is considered low-level and the landfill licensed by the state to handle it, nearby residents and environmentalists still worry over its potential to leak into rivers, lakes or groundwater over long periods of time.

Michigan Is Taking The Radioactive Fracking Waste That Other States Rejected - Michigan is accepting the radioactive fracking waste that other states’ regulations prevent them from keeping.  Up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from fracking operations in Pennsylvania were scheduled to arrive in Michigan last week. The waste was collected from Range Resources drilling operations, and the waste was already rejected by a landfill in Pennsylvania due to its radiation content. It was then slated to go to a landfill in West Virginia, a state that used to be able to accept unlimited amounts of radioactive fracking waste in its landfills, but the waste wasn’t accepted there either, since West Virginia is in the process of strengthening its rules on radioactive waste disposal.  Pennsylvania landfills have had radiation detectors since 2002, and Ohio has also strengthened its regulations on the acceptance of radioactive fracking waste. That leaves Michigan, a state that doesn’t have strict rules on radioactive fracking waste, and whose Wayne Disposal landfill got the state’s Departnment of Environmental Quality’s approval to accept radioactive fracking waste in 2006.  According to Range Resources, the waste that’s slated to arrive in Wayne Disposal has has shown radioactivity levels of somewhere between 40 and 260 microrems per hour, and that the radioactivity is not detectable a few feet away from the waste. The Detroit Free Press notes that, according to the EPA, continued exposure to radiation of up to 100 microrems over a period of months can result in “changes in blood chemistry, nausea, fatigue, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhea and bleeding.” “This is basically a load of sludge that came from storage tanks that were cleaned out and had accumulated over time,” “It comes from the water used in hydraulic fracturing, and when it’s stored, the solids tend to sink to the bottom and become a sludge.”

EDITORIAL: Override of fracking veto responsible choice: New Jersey’s reputation as a dump preceded Gov. Chris Christie, but he isn’t helping matters. Christie’s administration has long brushed off concerns about landfill emissions and contaminated soil. Now he’s telling us we don’t have to worry about the radioactive waste that’s produced when energy companies pour a toxic mix of chemicals, sand and water deep into the ground in order to fracture the shale and extract natural gas. Although New Jersey isn’t sitting on enough natural gas to make it worthwhile for energy companies to try to extract it at this time, Pennsylvania has more than 6,000 active fracking wells — many in the northeastern part of the state. Most of Pennsylvania’s wastewater has been disposed of in Ohio, but environmentalists there have sought tighter regulations after a pair of earthquakes believed linked to the wells that are used to dispose of fracking waste. Last week, up to 36 tons of waste was set to arrive at a Michigan landfill after being rejected by Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Given New Jersey’s efforts to shake off its bad reputation, the state should be the first to refuse to be the dumping ground for another state’s radioactive refuse. But this month Christie vetoed a bill that would prohibit fracking waste from being dumped here, arguing that such a ban would violate the U.S. Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause. That’s just not true. The Office of Legislative Services, a nonpartisan panel, said as much in its analysis of the ban: “It imposes the same restrictions on interstate and intrastate businesses, and the burden on commerce is incidental in relation to the putative local benefits if the legislation were enacted into law.”

Mining Spill Near U.S. Border Closes 88 Schools, Leaves Thousands Of Mexicans Without Water - An acid spill from a large copper mine in northern Mexico is keeping 88 schools closed starting Monday due to uncertainty over the safety of drinking water. The 12-day-old spill, which sent 10 million gallons (40,000 cubic meters) of toxic wastewater into portions of the Bacanuchi and Sonora rivers, may keep schools closed for over a week according to the Associated Press.  The Buenavista copper mine, one of the largest copper mines in the world, is located in Cananea, Sonora, about 25 miles south of the U.S. border near Nogales, Arizona. The mine is operated by Grupo Mexico, one of the world’s largest copper producers. Grupo Mexico’s American subsidiary, Asarco, is nearing a deal to gain full ownership of the Silver Bell copper mine across the U.S. border in Marana, Arizona and has been subject to major environmental misconduct charges in the past relating to its mining operations.  Mine officials have been criticized for not reporting the massive acid spill to authorities for around 24 hours, with residents downstream detecting the spill the next day as it turned dozens of miles of river orange. According to Carlos Arias, director of civil defense for the northern state of Sonora,  the spill was caused by defects in a new holding pond, where overflow from acids used to leach metal out of the crushed rock is stored. Arias said a pipe either blew out or lost its positioning on August 7th, sending the sulfuric acid downstream.

Sulfuric acid spill jeopardizes water supply in Sonora, Mexico --In the Mexican state of Sonora, a mining company recently discharged sulfuric acid into the Sonora River and its tributaries. The occurrence prompted the government to prohibit thousands of local residents from drinking from the rivers. Additionally, the company responsible for the mining operation, Grupo Mexico, is accused of waiting too long before notifying the authorities about the incident. They apparently also lied about the spill’s causes. . According to the company Operadora de Minas e Instalaciones Mineras, owned by Grupo Mexico, massive rains caused one of the mine’s dams to overflow. However, Government inspectors concluded that one of the mine’s pipelines that transports the acid broke. The acid then infiltrated the Bacanuchi River and eventually spread to the Sonora River, which is 261 miles (420 kilometers) long and carries around 171 million cubic meters per year. The inhabitants of the Arizpe municipality, some 31 miles downriver from the spill, observed “an unusual red shade” in the river and commented on its rare smell.  CONAGUA has confirmed that the Sonora River now possesses high levels of contaminants. A week after the incident, the acid and minerals that polluted the water can be found some 124 miles downriver. One article reports that there are now 1.78 milligrams of aluminum per liter, far over the maximum limit of 0.02 milligrams. When the spill was finally reported, local authorities ordered regional citizens not to touch the Sonora River, Bacanuchi River, and some of their tributaries’ waters.

Fracking may be coming to the Chihuahua border, Mexican officials say - Mexico energy officials said Chihuahua and three other northern border states are ripe for fracking, a controversial and widespread method that is used to extract shale gas and oil from the ground. Pemex (Petroleos Mexicanos), the state-owned oil company, previously identified Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, in addition to Chihuahua, as the states where fracking could be used to obtain new energy sources. The other Mexican states officials identified are Puebla, Oaxaca and Veracruz. Mexican officials said Pemex has drilled nearly 30 exploratory wells along the border with Texas, near Ojinaga and Presidio. In Texas, fracking is taking place in the Eagle Ford oil field that straddles the border with Mexico.  According to the Texas Railroad Commission, the oil and shale gas field is about 50 miles wide and 400 miles long and has an average thickness of 250 feet.   Critics say the process requires huge amounts of water and may be linked to spikes in small earthquakes.

Fracking the Arctic  -- For hundreds—if not thousands—of years, the Mountain Dene people have been traveling upstream to salt licks that draw caribou, moose and mountain sheep down from the high country in the early fall. For the Dene, it’s the best opportunity to stock up on wild game, fish and berries for the long winter.Many Dene people living in Sahtu and in other parts of the Canadian North are concerned that this way of life may be at risk now that two energy companies have been given the go-ahead to begin horizontal fracking in a region just south of the Arctic Circle. Conoco-Phillips has already fracked two test wells in the Sahtu, and the company has plans to frack several more in the future. With several other companies ready with plans of their own, the stakes are high. No one knows yet exactly how much shale oil and gas there is in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and territory of Nunavut. But the government of the Northwest Territories estimates that the Canol Shale underground deposit, which extends from the mountains along the Yukon border several hundred miles east towards Colville and Great Bear lakes, contains 2 to 3 billion barrels of recoverable oil, as much or more than in the highly productive Bakken formation in North Dakota.

Shale gas in Argentina: Dead-cow bounce - Economist -- Argentina boasts the world’s second-biggest shale-gas reserves, most of them in Vaca Muerta. A survey by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) suggests that the field holds 16.2 billion barrels of shale oil and 308 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of shale gas. That is more shale oil than Mexico and more shale gas than Brazil. It is enough to satisfy Argentina’s current energy demand for over 150 years, and could make the country an exporter once again. Neuquén is readying itself for a boom. Shopping centres have sprung up; so have clean new hotels that boast English-speaking staff and American-style food. Horacio Quiroga, the city’s mayor, compares its residents to expectant diners who have tied on their bibs. Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, is equally hopeful. “I shall no longer call [it] Vaca Muerta,” she said last year. “I shall call it Vaca Viva (‘Living Cow’).” But there are several catches. The EIA can be wrong: it has downgraded its estimates for Chaco-Paraná, another Argentine basin, from 164 TCF to 3 TCF. But initial trials at Vaca Muerta have been encouraging. In May Exxon Mobil announced that 770 barrels a day had begun to flow from an exploratory well there. Chevron and YPF, Argentina’s state oil firm, have formed a $1.4 billion joint venture to develop a concession which currently produces 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day. Vaca Muerta’s geology helps. Its shale is thicker than in most formations, which means that companies can produce more from a single site. As firms become familiar with the field, budgets are already dropping: YPF says it has reduced costs from $11m per well in 2011 to $7.5m.

Shale gas revolution stalls in China as projected output halved -- China's National Energy Administration (NEA) in a recent meeting to propose the nation's 13th five-year development plan said that by 2020 national production of shale gas and coalbed methane (also known as coal seam gas) will reach 30 billion cubic meters, only around half of what it proposed in the 12th five-year plan in 2012, Shanghai's China Business News reports, citing NEA director Wu Xinxiong. The new projection indicates the previous forecast was too optimistic, signaling that China's shale gas revolution still has a long way to go. Two years ago, the NEA said the nation's shale gas reserves totaled 2.5 trillion cubic meters, with the agency projecting production to reach 6.5 billion cubic meters a year in 2015, and 60 billion to 100 billion cubic meters by 2020. Why has the projected production been cut by half in just two years? In 2013, actual shale gas production jumped to 200 million cubic meters from only 25 million cubic meters in 2012. In 2014, the government set a production target of 1.5 billion cubic meters, but it lagged far behind the original goal of 60 billion cubic meters set for 2020. "I believe 30 billion cubic meters is a more objective number," said one unnamed expert at the state-run oil giant CNPC, whose production target of shale gas is 2.6 billion cubic meters in 2015. At present, 80% of China's shale gas resources are controlled by four petrochemical giants led by CNPC and Sinopec. Investments in shale gas are huge and take a long time to recover. As of April 2014, China's combined investments in shale gas exceeded 15 billion yuan (US$2.4 billion).