A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World
*OK shakin’, spillin’ n’ drillin’. OK had a reported 951 oil spills in 2013, second only to ND. OK, ranked 17th in the nation in frequency of earthquakes in 2003, is now first with an earthquake rate double that of CA. Fracking “wastewater disposal has likely played a role in the increase” of OK quakes, according to the US Geological Survey.
480 barrels of “fracking-related hydrochloric (HCL) acid, nearly enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool” poured from a storage tank in an alfalfa field and pooled near a creek that flows into the water system of the nearby town of Hennessey, OK. They’ve built a berm and say they’ve managed to keep the filthy stuff contained despite spells of rain. The farmers Hawk will be reimbursed for loss of their alfalfa crop by Blake Production, the fracking operator, which says only 350 barrels of acid were spilled.
On top of that comes the news of a new “monster” oil well in Kingfisher County, the Hladik No. 15. It’s up and running, pumping “more than 1,500 to 1,600 barrels” daily.
*CO Fracking Fight: Two measures aimed at fracking in CO were headed toward the November ballot, bankrolled in part by US Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO). The first would have required “all new oil and gas wells to be set back 2,000 feet from any home or school” (currently, only 500 feet) and the second would have added “an environmental bill of rights” to CO’s constitution.
Opposition to to both measures was fierce, creating division among CO Democrats. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) and Sen. Mark Udall (D), both up for reelection, were apparently feeling the heat on both sides of the initiatives. Polis and Hickenlooper reportedly negotiated a compromise which would open a “broader process” so local “businesses and property owners” could be more involved. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry is dropping their initiatives to “prohibit towns from barring fracking from receiving tax revenues from oil and gas development.”
And Polis, CO’s rising Dem star? Well, he’s now being praised as a team player.
*New Jersey’s fracking future? NJ’s fracking ban expired this year, and things were pretty quiet for a while, even though there’s “an underground formation stretching from Trenton to Bergen County [that] may contain more than 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas”, accessible by fracking. But the quiet was broken when Gov. Chris Christie (R) vetoed a popular bill banning from the state the “treating, discharge, disposing, and storage waste” of fracking. He’s vetoed similar bills twice before. Hmmm.
*North America, South America & African Coasts. Taking fracking to new levels—under deep ocean waters, down into the earth’s Lower Tertiary—is the latest “must-do”. You’ll be shocked to learn it’s all for money, “a boon for oil service providers such as Halliburton, Baker, Hughes and Superior Energy Services” and Schlumberger Ltd, as well as for well-known giants Chevon, Royal Dutch Shell and BP. We’re talking billions and an extension by 10%+ of current operations in the Gulf of Mexico which BP contaminated just a few years back.
Deep water fracking involves filtering oil and contaminants out of the water flowing back from the wells, then dumping that into the Gulf of Mexico, “where dilution renders it harmless”. Oh, yeah.
They’re at work off CA’s coasts already, although the Environmental Defense Center is fighting to ban CA off-shore fracking until more is known about its effects.
*Spain. Spain’s Geological and Mining Survey of Spain has become a big fly in the oily ointment of President Mariano Rajoy who’s a fracker-backer. According to the report, “Europe has no experience on fracking”, there are risks involved that should be evaluated carefully, and even “less aggressive applications for the environment” to be considered. The report further cautions that fracking experience in North America is “not necessarily transferable . . . to the Spanish or European case due to legal, geological, demographic, economic and cultural circumstances”. What about ‘ethical’?
*Australian alarm bells. Wells are being drilled in Western Australia close to drinking water bore fields, without any “assessment of the risk of water contamination”. A company called AWE is doing the drilling. Australia’s EPA is in such awe of AWE, apparently, that they are referring the matter to the Department of Mines and Petroleum and the Department of Water for evaluation, regulation and mitigation. The Department of Mines and Petroleum, in turn, is basing decision-making on the Department of Water which has no problem with the proposed fracking even though the drilling is “through the same aquifer which supplies the Mount Peron [water] bore field”.
To amend a question a wag once asked, “What part of turning water into toxic sludge makes $en$e?”
Image by Public Herald under Creative Commons license