Two new studies disprove common claims about hydraulic fracturing

September 19th, 2014

Two new reports out this week disprove repeated claims that hydraulic fracturing can contaminate groundwater.

Firstly, a study reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science reports that a review of available data from the Marcellus and Barnett Shale formations:

appear to rule out gas contamination by upward migration from depth through overlaying geological strata triggered by horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing.”

These findings are a blow to anti-industry activists, because they again put paid to the claim that fracking contaminates groundwater.

The study did conclude that some wells can leak – due mainly to issues like faulty cement bonding.

But it’s critical to view that conclusion in context – a minute fraction of wells will develop leaks that allow gas to escape through faulty cement, and as the study authors note, faulty cementing is fixable.

For a comprehensive overview of the study, take a look at Energy in Depth’s analysis.

The second study of note this week that puts a sizeable dent in the activist playbook comes from the US Government’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), an organisation with significant experience in unconventional oil and gas.

The report is the final stages of a year-long monitoring study which saw researchers inject tracers into the hydraulic fracturing fluid in a well in Greene County, Pennsylvania to track for any signs of possible migration.

And the findings, which you probably will never see quoted by anti-industry activists, are clear:

“Current findings are: 1) no evidence of gas migration from the Marcellus Shale; and 2) no evidence of brine migration from the Marcellus Shale.”

If there’s any doubt after reading that, the report also says:

“Conclusions of this study are: 1) the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the rock mass did not extend to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field; and 2) there has been no detectable migration of gas or aqueous fluids to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field during the monitored period after hydraulic fracturing.”

The bottom line is that the scientific and environmental evidence continues to show, time and time again, that hydraulic fracturing simply does not do what the activist groups want it to.

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