In support of fracking
Tuesday, Mar 27, 2012 06:00 am
I understand people’s concerns about their water; I live in the county and I rely on my water well. I understand that your water is your lifeblood. I’m also a petroleum engineer with 27 years of experience and have been involved with hundreds of fracture stimulations and understand the process of oil and gas well construction, the physics of fracking, the regulations that are in place and know that fracking is safe. Approximately 171,000 wells have been fractured in Alberta since the technology was introduced more then 60 years ago. Since 2008 approximately 3,300 horizontal wells have been drilled in Alberta that used multi-stage hydraulic fracturing to enhance oil and gas recovery. There has never been a documented case of hydraulic fracturing activities contaminating groundwater in Alberta. In the majority of wells drilled using horizontal drilling technology and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing, the fracturing occurs at depths of hundreds or thousands of metres below the deepest water aquifer. Alberta has a robust regulatory environment that will continue to protect groundwater in Alberta. The Energy industry welcomes regulation to ensure best practices are being used and enforced by all involved. What the energy industry does fear is misinformation and fear mongering. It is this misinformation that leads to desperate measures by people who feel threatened, as witness in your story about bomb and shooting threats.
The majority of measures advocated by Mr. Munro are good and I argue that most of them are in place in some form. For example the industry currently has voluntary disclosure of chemicals used in frac fluid (this is new in Alberta and the ERCB plans to make disclosure mandatory this year), Alberta Environment requires application and approval for proposed water withdrawal exceeding a threshold, frac fluid is recycled or treated at approved wastewater treatments unless testing proves that treatment is not needed, and the ERCB has regulations in place that ensure the quality and integrity of wellbores (ERCB regulations are considered among the best if not the best in the world and are being copied by many foreign countries).
It is unfortunate that occasionally incidents regarding fracking do happen, such as the well control issue that occurred in January. However this incident did prove that fracking does stay in zone and did not grow into the water aquifer. In my opinion this fluid spill was caused by operator error, but if for example a farmer has a herbicide spill due to a valve being left open or some piece of equipment leaking and creates a minor environmental issue on his land, do we ban the use of herbicides or do we just be more careful?
My last statement that fracking is safe is the fact that I have a water well on my property that is located about 250 yards from a gas well and if the operator decided to frack that well I would have no concerns about my water well. So I’m not just speaking as someone in the industry but also as someone whose family and home could be directly affected by fracking.
I agree that people need to get better informed about fracking but I ask that you get informed from technical professionals who understand geology, rock mechanics and physics of hydraulic fracture stimulation. This should allow you to better recognize fear mongering and misinformation and make you more comfortable with fracking operations.