Hydrofracking - are we nuts? (OT)

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BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 2, 2013 - 10:41am PT
This is not frac water. This was drill cuttings. When you drill an 8 inch hole for 5000 horizontal feet, it is quite a bit. In most places it is just covered and buried in the pit, because in verticals this never happens.

I will have to check in on this, because there are thousands of Marcellus wells and this is the first one to have high radioactivity, which is common in certain areas. The Marcellus actually outcrops over a large area, so that rock is in the aquifer that people have been using for centuries.

The drilling in the Denver Julesberg Basin targets the Niobrara formation, which is a much younger and much different rock. The Niobrara has turned out to be kind of a bust. It is really only good in the Wattenburg field, which consists of thousands of wells around Denver up to just east of Boulder. Not IN Boulder.

I'll check on this. I don't work the Marcellus up in the NE, where this is, but I do work with other shales, and this doesn't happen.

I'm leary about this, because so many thousands of wells have drilled through the Marcellus, and there is a lot of hysteria over it. I'm sure right now that everyone is checking the drill cuttings. If it is at that level, it will have to be taken to a hazardous waste landfill. My wife regulates those. It is more expensive to use a hazardous landfill, but in the 9 million dollar cost of these wells, it is just a nuisance.

Remember. This isn't from water. This is from the actual rock cuttings that are circulated up and separated from the mud stream. I have sat at least a couple of hundred wells, and the geologist looks at samples gathered at every ten feet.

The only real NORM problem that has occurred, is in the Permian Basin. Almost every single oil well produces associated saltwater, and over the years you can get scale buildup inside the production tubing, which isn't casing. It turned out that this scale from one zone was highly radioactive. The old tubing, which has to be replaced every decade or two, had built up a very radioactive scale, but it took many years to build up.

So all of that tubing, which had been used for fences and even things like swing sets, had to be found and disposed of properly.

Frac fluid is only in the formation for a few weeks. Most of it comes flowing back in the first few days. I've never heard of radioactive frac fluid.

This is a huge concern in the exploration industry, because public perception, even if it is false, has an impact. Right now we are seeing the really big companies coming in and buying out the smaller guys. The big companies have the resources to handle almost anything. If the Macondo blowout had happened on land, it would have been controlled within a few days, and could have been cleaned up.

Over the past few years, the flowback fluid has been recycled and used over and over again instead of purchasing clean fresh water, which is a big expense. The service companies now have "green" frac fluids that don't contain any toxic materials, and in general have been dealing with the problems that are unique to the Marcellus, which lies in Pennsylvania and associated areas.

These big stage fracs have been under a lot of scrutiny. You or anybody can go out to the pit and take samples of the flow back fluid, and this has been done many times. This case has nothing to do with the fluid. It was the actual rock that comes up in the drilling. I've NEVER heard of this before, but the shales are more radioactive than other shales. One of our logging tools is a gamma ray scintillomiter, and is run on modern wells. We know how radioactive the rock is that we are drilling through, and in all of the mid continent and rocky mountain basins (which are not "in the mountains.")

Everyone here knows how green I am, and if this isn't a spiked load of cuttings, it will have to dealt with. It isn't radioactive waste type radioactivity. It is just above the line for type one landfills.

The drill cuttings, if this pans out, will now have to be examined.

This is in the Marcellus, which is upper Devonian. The zone in eastern Colorado is the Niobrara, which has been produced for decades in vertical wells. Underneath the Denver area, the geothermal gradient is higher because it is in line with the Colorado Mineral Belt. The Niobrara is failing in most places other than the Wattenburg Field, so the whole Niobrara is very patchy. It isn't thermally mature in most other areas. There is a small place in the Powder River that I know of, but it is pretty small. Shales are really high tech, and I'm learning about the geomechanics, chemistry, capillary pressure and lots of other stuff that.

Do you guys know the association with Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio? These shales are examined with electron microscopes, x-ray diffraction, and the mineralogy is well understood. Every shale is a little different, and there is a learning curve to make economic wells.

I'm bummed today because a buddy of mine and his son were killed in the El Reno tornado two days ago. This guy was huge in the meteorology community, Nobody can believe that he was killed chasing. He did a lot of important work with Texas Tech on windspeeds and damage, along with successfully planting instruments that were hit by tornadoes, something that only he could pull off after zillions of attempts. His son and partner died with them when a tornado veered its course and caught them in their car, sending it flying and killing all three.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Jun 2, 2013 - 11:08am PT
Base….

You are totally biased being a worker in the industry. Not totally sure how much weight we're supposed to put in your "Its all safe" call.

One question: Can you say with certainty that every frac operation is run to your exacting standards and integrity?

If not, then you cannot say that everything is always safe with any sincerity.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Jun 2, 2013 - 11:27am PT
You are totally biased being a worker in the industry.

I'm not sure if your bias detecto-meter is working so hot there Jingy. What I just read in Bases post didn't raise a whole lot of red flags of bias and in fact I believe he indicated he was a bit puzzled by this development and he intends to look into it.

If Base possesses "total bias" he does a ferociously good job of concealing it, not just in that last post but damn near everything he writes. Of course the only people who can know for sure are his professional peers. Still you gotta wonder how you arrive at your "total bias" assessment. Or is it simply because he works in the industry?



10b4me

Ice climber
Jun 2, 2013 - 11:34am PT
Base, sorry to hear about your friends.
My condolences to you, and the family.
Jingy

climber
Somewhere out there
Jun 2, 2013 - 11:56am PT
Bruce - Right, I guess I too have allowed my anti-frac bias to get the better of me, in that I read Base to be pro-frac at all costs. Yes, he will look into something further, but in the meantime let the fracking continue regardless of the consequences to the people and the environment the people live in.

It's almost like reading the idea that spins the commercials that suggest that there are no problems in drilling for oil i the gulf and how much better the place is because of the drilling… I haven't been to the south, but from what I've heard there are more people down there on some kind of public assistance than anywhere else in the country.

If it (the frac) was really safe, there would be no need to report anything. We never hear stories on the people that continue to breath as this is what people do. Never hear the story about the numerous cars that start every day… That's just how things work. And if fracing were truly safe we would have never heard about it because life would have continued without a hitch. But as it stands there seems to be enough of the bad news so as to outweigh the good news, not to mention who false the claims of "making a community all better" economically.
nature

climber
Boulder, CO
Jun 2, 2013 - 01:58pm PT
I agree with Bruce. I've always appreciated Base for what he contributes.

We do get blinded when we stand for a cause and we have to be careful about that.

My teachers points out that in his tradition their approach is to look at all the positives and benefits and ways that other opinions might be right before taking it apart. I think often times the approach is to understand deeply your opinion on something (fracking, clear cutting, whatever) and use those strengths to tear down the opposition *before* understanding fully the oppositions strengths. The inherit problem there is if you are proven wrong you undermine not only the point you are trying to make but also your broader goals.

Base - do you have any information regarding the fracking that is looking to begin probably starting June 11th here in Boulder Country? (June 10th is when the moritorium is lifted).
HighTraverse

Trad climber
Bay Area
Jun 2, 2013 - 04:46pm PT
The Monterey Shale, running southeast of San Francisco at an average depth
of 11,000 feet
There are already low producing oil wells in the Santa Cruz mtns. The nearest me are adjacent to Castle Rock State Park and about 3 hawk miles away. There are others between La Honda and San Gregorio.

WHOOOEEEEE......I can lease out my little spot of paradise and get rich!
I've just changed my mind. Let The Fracking Begin!
sharperblue

Mountain climber
San Francisco, California
Jun 2, 2013 - 11:33pm PT
Very sorry to hear about your friends, Base - I'm really enjoying lurking and reading this one - brings back a lot of memories of the oil and gas wells drilled into the Devonian shale on my parent's land when I was 4 years old in the West Virginia hills.

Read Sinclair's 'Oil' a few years back and was absolutely amazed at how little had changed in the process of drilling from 1920's to the 70's. looking back at the family pics from those days makes it look like they were using the same equipment!

I remember the strange grey fracking waste was pumped into a pit that was then covered over; nothing at all grew in those filled pits for years and years
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Jun 3, 2013 - 12:30am PT
Jesus, the stupid Rubes in the White house have screwed the pooch again! This time the idiots have selected ANOTHER (see Dr Chu note above) PRO FRACKING HACK, a guy who is a MIT physicist no less (Ernest Moniz) to be the next Secretary of Energy.

Are they all just that stupid? He wants MORE electricity, cheaper. Where are they getting all these idiots? They clearly are not familiar with this web site, or they would be against fracking. Sh#t, do they just give about anyone a Doctorate these days? Sorry boys, looks like the new sheriff in town wants you to PAY LESS for electricity, which in turn will add shitloads of new jobs throughout the country as the cost to Mfg decreases, and you'll breath cleaner air while all that crap occurs. No way around it, they seem intent on cleaning up the environment by MORE fracking, not less. Ya can't even turn around and vote in the republicans either.

“Mr. Moniz has been supportive of nuclear power, clean coal as well as renewable energy. He is perhaps best known for a study published by MIT on the future of natural gas, which was presented to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in 2011.”

“It’s cheap, there’s lots of it and there’s lots of it in places with high demand, namely the U.S., China and India,” says co-author and M.I.T. physicist Ernest Moniz. “Sequestration,” he adds, “is a key enabling technology for coal use in a carbon-constrained world.”

“The world needs both more electricity and less pollution. The goals are not incompatible, but the solution will require better management of demand, smarter use of coal as well as renewable energy sources, and increased use of nuclear power.”

Clearly the academics don't know sh#t about shinola these days. Pfft, pro-fracking and he's a Doctorate from MIT.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 3, 2013 - 12:50am PT
There are a ton of little gas wells that have been drilled in and produce from the Marcellus. There is a town in Pennsylvania where back in the olden days, they drilled incredibly shallow wells to light the town. This is also where the water caught fire in the movie Gasland. He didn't show the water from the other 4000 people in the town who deal with the same thing and have since day one.

I'm not proanything that trashes aquifers or makes people sick.

This all started in the Marcellus Shale in the Northeast. There have been no problems of any significance in the thousands of horizontals in the Woodfod Shale in the Arkoma Basin, the Anadarko Basin, or the Sherman Marieta Basin.

All I'm saying is that there is a ton of misinformation out there. Casing leaks for example. We have been dealing with those for decades. In parts of Kansas, there is a sandstone called the Cedar Hills formation. It is full of saltwater, but it is corrosive for some reason, and if you don't run an uphole cement tool to cement across it, you will get a casing leak within a few years and lose your well.

I take offense to you calling me biased. For the past five years I have been working limestone and dolomite reservoirs. Not shales, but I go to the meetings and see a ton of data.

So the general public is scared of this. Although we know that most of this stuff is so stupid that a one year geologist knows it is bunk, that doesn't matter anymore. The big companies who do a lot of this are doing all sorts of stuff that isn't necessary just to prove that the wells are safe.

I spent a year at Chesapeake, who was drilling more shale gas wells than any other company, and they had an entire hydrology and groundwater division that studied the aquifers in the Marcellus. They did pre-drilling sampling of all nearby water wells, and drilled monitoring wells. They didn't have to do it, but they spent a ton of money on it. Nobody wants a problem.

If you are going to call me biased, well you are wrong. I get to see microseismic, which records each fracture and where it is in relation to the wellbore. I've never seen a fracture get more than 100 feet out of zone.

These shales aren't everywhere, and many shales aren't suitable. The productive shales produce from silica rich layers that have clay rich ductile layers between them. The frac science is designed to frac the silica rich zone, because you can't frac the ductile shales. They have to be brittle to take a frac. The economic trends in the shales are usually 10 or 20 miles wide and maybe several hundred miles long. A lot of it has to do with thermal maturity of the Type II kerogen. It has to have been heated to a certain point for these organic rich shales to source the gas in the whole basin.

Right now I am reading everything about shales, because I am probably going to work in the Bakken in North Dakota, where all of the farmers are millionaires.

The U.S. has produced more oil than the reserves of any other country on the planet besides Saudi Arabia. There are so many wells in the producing basins that a map of them looks like a bird shot pattern. The wells that cause problems are the ones up to about 1965. They didn't have to case off the groundwater, which has been mapped in every state. They also didn't plug them worth a damn. Today, plugging standards are far tougher, but the thing is, plugging it properly is not expensive at all.

All of these basins have gas production dating back to he twenties or thirties. The gas shales are deep. 8000 to 12000 feet. The thickest one I know of is 400 feet. It is overlain by a sedimentary sequence that is thousands of feet thick. The typical sedimentary sequence is 90% shale, but not the organic rich shale that is brittle enough to be fracked, and it doesn't carry organics to begin with.

I was on a rig once when the operator let the mudpit overflow. I was woken by a very irate inspector, and happily gave him the home phone number of the operator, leadint to a fine, although it wasn't a toxic release. I never worked for them again.

I'm desperate to get off of hydrocarbons. I believe in global warming, because these organic rich shales were deposited in anoxic conditions cause by ocean acidification, which was caused by CO2 forced hothouse conditions just like we are doing.

Natural gas is by far the lowest carbon fuel, but our country has a huge gullet for oil. We now import over half of what we use. The dream has always been to switch to natural gas instead of oil as a transportation fuel. Transportation fuel is by far the biggest use of oil.

We totally waste the stuff, and it is sickening. We have a nigh endless supply of natural gas. The problem is that alternatives are much more expensive. People look the other way and fill up their big trucks that they don't need, and drive them around every day with only one person in the truck.

I just understand fracks. We have been fracking wells for many decades, and haven't had any problems that I'm aware of. Jinghy doesn't understand the science of wellbore design, reservoir pressure (which is low in the shales), geochemistry, rock mechanics, anything. I deal with this every day of my life.

I'm not biased. I'm just saying something that he doesn't want to hear.
couchmaster

climber
pdx
Jun 3, 2013 - 08:49am PT
Base said:
"So the general public is scared of this"

MIT PHd holder nuclear physicist and current Sec. of Energy Moniz isn't.

Say what you will about Obama, he has a good grasp on how important energy is to the country and has acted in our long term interest. His avoidance of political hacks as sec of Energy via selecting intelligent folks who have both book smarts and real smarts is an example. This nomination is an awesome choice. Boosting the CAFE standards as one of his first acts when elected was the very first example.

Of course, holding a Phd is no panacea you are not a stupid douchbag, look at Weschrist for instance, but it's better than hiring an ignorant hack like Bill Richardson.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
Jun 3, 2013 - 09:12am PT
While i will agree Couch, with the above,i for one ,do not believe fracking at the headwaters of 3 major wataersheds in pa,is a very smart agenda.
That water supplies millions of peoples needs.
5000 wells less than 100 miles from my house,NG prices have only risen.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 3, 2013 - 10:09am PT
Obama has been quite friendly to the domestic oil and gas industry. These are the companies that drill onshore.

You have to calm down and be rational.

I am crazy against drilling in ANWR. The hype over that is pure propaganda.

The propaganda doesn't come from the oil companies so much. The state of Alaska needs it to survive. They have no means of support other than the oil production coming down that pipeline.

I wrote a journal article about this a long time ago.
kennyt

climber
Woodfords,California
Jun 3, 2013 - 10:20am PT
you're supposed to just keep playin with yer ipad and not notice anything.
Hawkeye

climber
State of Mine
Jun 3, 2013 - 02:52pm PT
The big companies who do a lot of this are doing all sorts of stuff that isn't necessary just to prove that the wells are safe.

if the wells are so safe then i guess it would be cool with you to have one of these operations on your 5 acre parcel where your water comes from a well.

BS. Some of your posts have so much extraneous BS to them that have nothing to do with the issue at all.

BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Jun 3, 2013 - 04:12pm PT
Dude,

That was typical internet childish behavior.

You are ignorant about the topic, and the fact that you wish to remain willfully ignorant pretty much sums you up.



wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
Jun 3, 2013 - 07:37pm PT
BASE ,I am calm and rational,WE have yet to see any benefit from all this,will WE?.
I totally respect your position on this,alaska,south dakota need this,does pa,ny or colorado ,near metros like Boulder?
When were there rich farmers from apalachia? Not in our recent history and certainly not now.
I just do not believe fracking should be going down near such population centers,time will tell. I will stay calm.
Hawkeye

climber
State of Mine
Jun 3, 2013 - 07:47pm PT
Do you guys know the association with Young's modulus and Poisson's ratio? These shales are examined with electron microscopes, x-ray diffraction, and the mineralogy is well understood. Every shale is a little different, and there is a learning curve to make economic wells.

so Base, whats the point of this comment/question? does it have anything to do with the waste associated with fracking? no.

and its inconceivable to me that someone who deals with the subsurface does not know about radon. a noble gas that is commonly found in some sub surface areas which typically has a very short half-life of about 4 days.

Natural [edit]





Radon concentration next to a uranium mine.
Radon is produced by the radioactive decay of radium-226, which is found in uranium ores; phosphate rock; shales; igneous and metamorphic rocks such as granite, gneiss, and schist; and, to a lesser degree, in common rocks such as limestone.[53] Every square mile of surface soil, to a depth of 6 inches (2.6 km2 to a depth of 15 cm), contains approximately 1 gram of radium, which releases radon in small amounts to the atmosphere[2] On a global scale, it is estimated that 2,400 million curies (90 TBq) of radon are released from soil annually.[54]

Radon concentration varies widely from place to place. In the open air, it ranges from 1 to 100 Bq/m3, even less (0.1 Bq/m3) above the ocean. In caves or aerated mines, or ill-aerated houses, its concentration climbs to 20–2,000 Bq/m3.[55] Radon concentration can be much higher in mining contexts. Ventilation regulations instruct to maintain radon concentration in uranium mines under the "working level", with 95th percentile levels ranging up to nearly 3 WL (546 pCi 222Rn per liter of air; 20.2 kBq/m3, measured from 1976 to 1985).[2] The concentration in the air at the (unventilated) Gastein Healing Gallery averages 43 kBq/m3 (1.2 nCi/L) with maximal value of 160 kBq/m3 (4.3 nCi/L).[56]

Radon mostly appears with the decay chain of the radium and uranium series (222Rn), and marginally with the thorium series (220Rn). The element emanates naturally from the ground, and some building materials, all over the world, wherever traces of uranium or thorium can be found, and particularly in regions with soils containing granite or shale, which have a higher concentration of uranium. However, not all granitic regions are prone to high emissions of radon. Being a rare gas, it usually migrates freely through faults and fragmented soils, and may accumulate in caves or water. Owing to its very short half-life (four days for 222Rn), radon concentration decreases very quickly when the distance from the production area increases. Radon concentration varies greatly with season and atmospheric conditions. For instance, it has been shown to accumulate in the air if there is a meteorological inversion and little wind.[57]

High concentrations of radon can be found in some spring waters and hot springs.[58] The towns of Boulder, Montana; Misasa; Bad Kreuznach, Germany; and the country of Japan have radium-rich springs that emit radon. To be classified as a radon mineral water, radon concentration must be above a minimum of 2 nCi/L (74 kBq/m3).[59] The activity of radon mineral water reaches 2,000 kBq/m3 in Merano and 4,000 kBq/m3 in Lurisia (Italy).[56]

Natural radon concentrations in the Earth's atmosphere are so low that radon-rich water in contact with the atmosphere will continually lose radon by volatilization. Hence, ground water has a higher concentration of 222Rn than surface water, because radon is continuously produced by radioactive decay of 226Ra present in rocks. Likewise, the saturated zone of a soil frequently has a higher radon content than the unsaturated zone because of diffusional losses to the atmosphere.[60][61]

In 1971, Apollo 15 passed 110 km (68 mi) above the Aristarchus plateau on the Moon, and detected a significant rise in alpha particles thought to be caused by the decay of 222Rn. The presence of 222Rn has been inferred later from data obtained from the Lunar Prospector alpha particle spectrometer.[62]

Radon is found in some petroleum. Because radon has a similar pressure and temperature curve to propane, and oil refineries separate petrochemicals based on their boiling points, the piping carrying freshly separated propane in oil refineries can become radioactive because of decaying radon and its products.[63]

Residues from the petroleum and natural gas industry often contain radium and its daughters. The sulfate scale from an oil well can be radium rich, while the water, oil, and gas from a well often contains radon. Radon decays to form solid radioisotopes that form coatings on the inside of pipework.[63]

thats ok Base,keep telling folks its all good, trust those oil companies, get a job on an offshore rig run by BP. yep, its safe.
TGT

Social climber
So Cal
Jun 3, 2013 - 08:11pm PT
When are "we" going to all start walking to the crags barefoot or in leather only shoes with hemp ropes over our shoulders?


(no petroleum products allowed)



Hawkeye

climber
State of Mine
Jun 3, 2013 - 08:16pm PT
TGT,

the devils in the details of how fracking is done, what stuff they are pumping into the ground (even if they claim its a confined aquifer which by base's own admission is not if the casing corrodes away), as well as what they do with the waste.

figure that out and keep it away from drinking water wells and then it might be viable from an environmental perspective. otherwise its not.
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