Duke Researchers Release Report on Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing

By: Michael K. Reer

On April 24, 2017, researchers from Duke University released “The Geochemistry of Naturally Occurring Methane and Saline Groundwater in an Area of Unconventional Shale Gas Development” – a peer reviewed study that examined the effects of hydraulic fracturing activities on water quality in West Virginia. Significantly, the study tested water wells before and after nearby hydraulic fracturing activities, and found that the test results “showed no evidence of anthropogenic contamination” in groundwater. The study also examined the effects of fluid spills on nearby surface waters, finding that the chemistry and isotope ratios of surface waters near known spills or leaks mimicked the composition of Marcellus flowback fluids. The study’s finding with respect to surface waters is unsurprising given that the researchers specifically targeted water bodies nearby reported spills. The industry blog Energy in Depth has posted an extensive analysis of the study.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Duke Releases Study on Oil and Gas Related Spills


On February 21, 2017, the journal Environmental Science & Technology published “Unconventional Oil and Gas Spills: Risks, Mitigation Priorities, and State Reporting Requirements,” an assessment of spill data from unconventional development operations in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. The study found that between 2-16% of unconventional wells report a spill each year. The study also found that 75% of wells that reported spills were within the first three years of production, and that 50% of all spills were related to storage and moving fluids via flowlines.

The blog Energy in Depth published a critique of the Duke study, noting that the Duke study included freshwater spills in its analysis. Energy in Depth also pointed to similar spill studies that found that 78% of all oil and gas related spills are contained on the well pad and never effect the environment.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

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