Fracked Shale Oil Wells Drying Up Faster than Predicted, Wall Street Journal Finds

Fracked Shale Oil Wells Drying Up Faster than Predicted, Wall Street Journal Finds

SOURCE: DeSmog Blog and Wall Street Journal ($). DATE: January 10, 2019 SNIP: In 2015, Pioneer Natural Resources filed a report with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, in which the shale drilling and fracking company said that it was “drilling the most productive wells in the Eagle Ford Shale” in Texas. That made the company a major player in what local trade papers were calling “arguably the largest single economic event in Texas history,” as drillers pumped more than a billion barrels of fossil fuels from the Eagle Ford. Its Eagle Ford wells, Pioneer’s filing said, were massive finds, with each well able to deliver an average of roughly 1.3 million barrels of oil and other fossil fuels over their lifetimes. Three years later, The Wall Street Journal checked the numbers, investigating how those massive wells are turning out for Pioneer. Turns out, not so well. And Pioneer is not alone. Those 1.3 million-barrel wells, the Journal reported, “now appear to be on a pace to produce about 482,000 barrels” apiece — a little over a third of what Pioneer told investors they could deliver. In Texas’ famed Permian Basin, now the nation’s most productive shale oil field, where Pioneer predicted 960,000 barrels from each of its shale wells in 2015, the Journal concluded that those “wells are now on track to produce about 720,000 barrels” each. Not only are the wells already drying up at a much faster rate than the company predicted, according to the Journal’s investigative report, but Pioneer’s projections require oil to flow for at least 50 years after the well was drilled and...
Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands

Driven by Trump Policy Changes, Fracking Booms on Public Lands

SOURCE: Washington Post DATE: October 27, 2018 SNIP: Reversing a trend in the final years of the Obama presidency, the Trump administration is auctioning off millions of acres of drilling rights to oil and gas developers, a central component of the White House’s plan to work hand in glove with the industry to promote more domestic energy production. Seeing growth and profit opportunities at a time of rising oil prices and a pro-business administration, big energy companies like Chesapeake Energy, Chevron, and Anschutz Exploration are seizing on the federal lands free-for-all, as they collectively buy up tens of thousands of acres of new leases and apply for thousands of permits to drill. In total, more than 12.8 million acres of federally controlled oil and gas parcels were offered for lease in the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30, triple the average offered during President Barack Obama’s second term. Like the acreage offered for lease, the acreage actually leased by energy companies on federal lands hit its highest level last year since 2012, the height of the initial fracking boom in the United States. After 2012, a combination of Obama administration policy decisions and lower oil prices slowed demand for new drilling rights, a trend reversed since President Trump took office. That reversal has been propelled in part by the Interior Department’s willingness to go along with industry pressure to weaken rules that govern how these federal lands can be used, as regulators follow detailed industry scripts for rollbacks in protections for wildlife, air quality and groundwater supplies, documents show. The number of drilling rigs operating in the state...
Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air

Trump Administration Wants to Make It Easier to Release Methane Into Air

SOURCE: New York Times DATE: September 10, 2018 SNIP: The Trump administration, taking its third major step this year to roll back federal efforts to fight climate change, is preparing to make it significantly easier for energy companies to release methane into the atmosphere. Methane, which is among the most powerful greenhouse gases, routinely leaks from oil and gas wells, and energy companies have long said that the rules requiring them to test for emissions were costly and burdensome. The Environmental Protection Agency, perhaps as soon as this week, plans to make public a proposal to weaken an Obama-era requirement that companies monitor and repair methane leaks, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times. In a related move, the Interior Department is also expected in coming days to release its final version of a draft rule, proposed in February, that essentially repeals a restriction on the intentional venting and “flaring,” or burning, of methane from drilling operations. Methane makes up only about nine percent of greenhouse gases, but it is around 25 times more effective than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the atmosphere. About one-third of methane pollution is estimated to come from oil and gas operations. The forthcoming proposals from the E.P.A. and Interior Department would allow far more methane to leak from oil and gas drilling operations, environmentalists say. “These leaks can pop up any time, anywhere, up and down the oil and gas supply chain,” said Matt Watson, a specialist in methane pollution with the Environmental Defense Fund, an advocacy group. “The longer you go in between inspections, the longer leaks will go...
How energy companies set off earthquakes miles away from their waste dumps

How energy companies set off earthquakes miles away from their waste dumps

SOURCE: The Washington Post DATE: August 30, 2018 SNIP: Each day across the United States, 2 billion gallons of fossil-fuel-industry wastewater flies through thousands of underground tubes. The injection wells descend into porous rock, filling gaps with brine and chemicals that are the result of extracting oil and gas from the ground. The goal of the wells is for the wastewater to be out of sight, out of drinking water and out of harm’s way. Except the wells can cause earthquakes. In some cases, the quakes begin as far as 15 miles from the wells. In a new study in the journal Science, scientists describe for the first time how earthquakes can be triggered so far away from the wells. An efficient practice by the oil and gas industry is creating a ripple effect far beyond its drilling locations. Geologists have linked injection wells to quakes, with findings based on years of observation. Human-made earthquakes, though most are moderate in size, put 1 in 50 people in the United States at risk, according to a recent U.S. Geological Survey analysis. Wastewater injection wells are concentrated in Oklahoma, Texas, California and Kansas, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “Induced earthquakes are becoming more and more of an issue in central and the eastern U.S.,” said University of California at Santa Cruz seismologist Thomas Goebel. In 2011, an injection well in Oklahoma was responsible for a magnitude-5.6 earthquake that damaged a highway, shook buildings and generated a dozen aftershocks. The study authors were able to identify two types of earthquakes triggered by wastewater wells, having everything to do with what kind...
WHAT CONSUMES MORE GAS THAN MANY OF CASCADIA’S CITIES COMBINED?

WHAT CONSUMES MORE GAS THAN MANY OF CASCADIA’S CITIES COMBINED?

SOURCE: Sightline Institute DATE: July 2, 2018 SNIP: The methanol refinery proposed for Kalama, Washington, is, by any measure, a goliath. On the banks of the Columbia River in southwest Washington, the project’s backers aim to build a petrochemical plant to convert natural gas, much of it fracked, into liquid methanol for export to China’s plastics industry and vehicle fleet. Operating the facility at full capacity would require staggering volumes of gas. A new Sightline analysis finds that the project’s demand for gas would dwarf the consumption of the Northwest’s biggest cities combined. Even adding up all the gas used by every home, business, and industry in Seattle, Portland, Tacoma, Spokane, Bellevue, Eugene, Bellingham, and Corvallis, it does not come close to equaling the voracious appetite of the methanol export plans at Kalama. Supplying that much gas would be a climate disaster. Researchers at Stockholm Environment Institute calculated that simply extracting and transporting the volumes of gas required by the facility could produce 4 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent more than than is emitted by every activity in the city of Seattle annually—and that’s just the total owing to methane leaks along the supply chain and does not include emissions at the site itself or when the methanol is ultimately...