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Posts Tagged ‘Hydraulic fracturing’

Vortex Tools shares the general breakdown of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluid.

I hear this question a lot: What is fracking fluid made of?

EnergyFromShale.org answers here (PDF warning):

http://www.energyfromshale.org/sites/default/files/Typical-Shale-Fracturing-Mixture-Makeup.pdf

Although 99.5% of fracking fluid is water and sand, many fracking fluid companies did not want to divulge their trade secret formulas when the outcry over fracking got louder. While that remaining 0.5% is not broken down in percentages, there’s clearly an intent to tie these additives to everyday household items like guar gum in ice cream and isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) in deodorant. Just make sure you don’t get those the wrong way round — nobody likes arm pit ice cream.

Something tells me this info won’t sway the environmental crowd, because  regardless of the chemical makeup, the process itself has still come under a lot of fire. Environmentalists contend that fracking chemicals are responsible for groundwater contamination, and that given the way water naturally flows to the path of least resistance, the veins created by the force of fracking not only provide routes for contamination, but fundamentally damage the rock structure, causing even more problems (some argue earthquakes). Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry believes that the science behind fracking is sound, and when enacted properly, no groundwater contamination occurs, as the fracking veins don’t spread anywhere near water. They also contend that many of the pollutants blamed on fracking chemicals are actually naturally occurring.

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Related articles:

Fracking in 2012

Wherefore Art Thou, Neutral Fracking Definition?

Delving Into the Pro Fracking Stance

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools follow-up article: After last week’s firestorm over a 2010 video where he called to “crucify” the oil and gas industry, EPA official Al Armendariz turned in his resignation on April 30th, 2012.

In my last post, I covered the heated comments between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the oil & gas industry in April 2012. These include Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher‘s 4/5 comments that “We must cut the EPA’s legs off”; the EPA’s 4/18 air pollution ruling for fracking wells; and, of course,  the release of Al Armendariz’ self-admitted “crude” 2010 example of how, like the Romans crucifying the first five people they saw in a new town, the EPA needed to flex its power to get the oil & gas industry to commit to better practices.

My closing comment was: “Well, April’s not over yet. Maybe we’ll have a few more heated comments between the EPA and the oil & gas industry before the month is out.”

Today, the last day of April, the news came in: EPA official Al Armendariz has resigned.

In his resignation letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Armendariz noted that his resignation stems from not wanting to be a distraction to the EPA’s goals: “I have come to the conclusion that my continued service will distract you and the agency from its important work.”

From there, his comments and the reactions are standard:

  • Armendariz stated that his comments “do not in any way reflect (his) work as regional administrator.”
  • The EPA and the Obama administration continue to state that Armendariz’ opinions do not represent the views of the EPA or the White House.
  • Many Republicans and oil & gas sector supporters believe that Armendariz — appointed by President Obama in April 2009 — does reflect the views of the EPA and the White House (namely to unfairly target the oil & gas industry).
  • The EPA has declared that the Armendariz scandal will not deter them from their practices.
  • Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) has declared that Armendariz’ resignation will not stop his investigation into the EPA’s policies.

So really, it’s the same old story: One side tries to pin the scandal on a lone fall guy while the other tries to take the comments of that one person as the standard for an entire organization. The truth is probably somewhere midway, but hey, this is politics. Who needs the truth when you can further your agenda?

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools comments on EPA administrator Al Armendariz’s analogy on the need to “crucify” the oil & gas industry, and the war of words from both sides in April 2012.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ADisused_Industrial_Building%2C_Off_Pasture_lane_-_geograph.org.uk_-_101328.jpg

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the oil & gas industry don’t get along. It’s one of those power-struggle relationships that shifts depending on whichever political party is in power — the EPA usually grows under a Democrat-controlled government, the oil & gas industry under a Republican-controlled government — but generally speaking, the two try to not say anything too overt against the other side.

Lately, however, that hasn’t been the case.

Ring the bell.

On April 5th, Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-TN) declared,  “We must cut the EPA’s legs off.”

While I think the EPA, like many regulatory government agencies, has unfortunate biases and agendas, there’s still a need for them; so in my grace, I will state that they should indeed still have legs (how nice of me).

Rep. Fincher, however, clarified his comment farther: “I hate to say that because it sounds rotten, but they are choking this country to death with legislating through the bureaucracy in Washington. I mean, we have fought dust legislation; we have fought water. You name it — it is something every day from the Environmental Protection Agency, and every group I talk to has the same message: ‘Please stop them.’ “

Then, on April 18th, the EPA issued air pollution rules for fracking wells. The rules state that oil & gas companies can flare (or burn off) the gas for now, but by 2015, that option will be gone. Instead, the oil & gas industry will be required to collect the gas. As a result, this will require pipelines and other equipment that, for many companies, is considered a hassle now.

Considering the environmental impact and energy value of the gas (plus the financial/energy value of the liquids in rich gas), this regulation against flaring is long overdue, but then again, Vortex Tools has been opposed to flaring gas rich with natural gas liquids (NGLs) for a long time, especially since these NGLs are valuable and Vortex makes them easy to recover.

Despite what many perceive to be a healthy step for energy efficiency, many in the oil & gas industry believe that the EPA will not stop regulating until fracking is banned. (This is, of course, exactly what environmentalists want.) This latest regulation isn’t the first step to that marker, and it’s unlikely to be the last.

And here we are today — April 26th, 2012 — where news broke on a video clip from 2010. In the video, top EPA official, Region Six Administrator Al Armendariz used the example of crucifixion to explain the EPA’s enforcement methods on the oil & gas industry:

The highlights:

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere; they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. And so you make examples out of people who are, in this case, not compliant with the law — find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there. And companies that are smart see that, they don’t want to play that game, and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up. And that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, (and) you go aggressively after them.”

I’ll give Armendariz credit: He at least knew then that his analogy was “crude” and “not appropriate” (which laid the groundwork for his apology yesterday… two years after the fact). Past that, however, he should probably know that examples on ruthlessly torturing and murdering people to establish your power might not go over well.  Plus, apparently that Jesus fella changed how Christians, a large part of the population, will respond to casual crucifixion examples (even if they are historically accurate).

Since the fracking debate is especially heated this year, it’s no surprise that both sides are digging up questionable content from the past. Also in the obvious box, the Armenadiz video prompted the following obvious responses:

  1. The EPA defended its enforcement strategy;
  2. The White House issued a statement that Armendariz’ remarks do not reflect President Obama’s view; and
  3. Some Republicans are angry and again believe that the EPA needs to be shut down.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) announced he is launching an investigation into the EPA’s tactics. He believes the EPA intends to incite fear in the public with unfounded intimidation methods. He also believes the EPA forcefully and unfairly shuts down companies. “My point is, you can’t get the oil and gas without hydraulic fracturing, but the public doesn’t know that,” he said. “So if they can kill hydraulic fracturing they have successfully killed oil and gasoline production in America.”

Well, April’s not over yet. Maybe we’ll have a few more heated comments between the EPA and the oil & gas industry before the month is out.

EDIT: 4/30: Armendariz out: https://spirofloblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/epa-official-who-called-to-crucify-the-oil-and-gas-industry-resigns/

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).

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Vortex Tools explores why the oil and gas industry believes fracking does not contaminate groundwater, and why, even when they are to blame (in this case of contamination or otherwise), they won’t take responsibility until they’re forced to do so.

With the potential changes coming to hydraulic fracturing in 2012, we’ve spent a number of blogs recently focusing on the controversial practice.

To recap here are the two opposing stances:

1) The oil and gas industry believes that the science behind fracking is sound, and when enacted properly, no groundwater contamination occurs, as the fracking veins don’t spread anywhere near water. They also contend that many of the pollutants blamed on fracking chemicals are actually naturally occurring.

2) Environmentalists contend that fracking chemicals are responsible for groundwater contamination, and that given the way water naturally flows to the path of least resistance, the veins created by the force of fracking not only provide routes for contamination, but fundamentally damage the rock structure, causing even more problems (some say earthquakes).

While the environmentalist stance is (mostly) easy to understand, it seems as though the pro-fracking stance needs more of an explanation to not just seem like some cover story to avert blame (especially as oil and gas companies are already branded as eco-villains).

When I checked in with an operator on the fracking controversy, he wrote the following:

Everywhere I know of where true science has been applied, it has been found to be of no effect. We had a water well on the ranch in Southeastern Colorado that made enough methane to run an industrial engine, and no well had been drilled for 15 miles in any direction.  You don’t have to be in the O & G business very long until a farmer or rancher will tell you, “You need to lease my land.  I know there is oil and gas here because I get it from my water well.”  But you drill a well and they say, “you contaminated my water well, pay up.”

Oil and gas migrate thru a thousand feet of “impermeable sediments” over hundreds of thousands of years, not decades. It can happen thru faulty cementing of the casing or casing failures, but, if it occurs during fracking, you know instantly.  You can run a temperature survey after a frac or put a small radioactive tag in the proppant and see exactly where it went.  

Fracture generation generally is out and down, with some up, due to the forces of gravity.  The “up’ stops when a clay or shale bed of relatively small thickness is reached.  To have 100′ of total fracture height takes a tremendous amount of horsepower and an extremely brittle, homogeneous formation.

Oil and gas entities are in the business of trying to generate profits for their shareholders, not paying out huge sums for contaminated water wells, whether the damage is insured or not.  Therefore, fracture height, surrounding sediment beds and cement and casing integrity are always taken into account in the frac design. 

This operator would admit, along with most oil and gas workers, that when mistakes are made, they are costly (environmentally, financially, time wise). So even though the oil and gas industry can argue the validity of the science and the natural occurrence of deemed pollutants, mistakes aren’t about good science or what’s naturally occurring. Mistakes are when things went wrong and the companies at fault should be held responsible.

That said, with the debate about what would have happened naturally (without oil and gas companies’ intervention) and the accepted large cost of faulty business practice, no company is going to take the burden when the proof of fault is — despite what either side would say — undetermined. By the end of 2012, however, that debate may be over.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

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Vortex Tools goes in search of a neutral definition of the controversial fracking process, yet comes back with hands smeared with bias from both sides of the issue.

Oh, there he is. He's much easier to find as a giant head in the middle of the page.

Waldo. Carmen Sandiego. That leprechaun with my pot of gold. A neutral definition of fracking.

What do these things have in common? That’s right, they’re hard to find, and the people who’ve found them aren’t sharing on the internet. Instead, you get a lot of opinion staplegunned to the facts (especially with that leprechaun — why is he so greedy?).

A couple of weeks back, we talked about the potential changes coming to fracking in 2012, and while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is set to finish their official report by the end of January — as opposed to quipping what people figured they’d find anyway: that hydraulic fracturing is responsible for groundwater contamination (followed by a predictable rebuttal from the oil and gas industry) —  it’s hard to find a neutral definition of what the process is.

Let’s look at what we get instead:

Save the intense battle music, this video doesn’t start half bad. Early on, there are couple of key phrases that indicate the narrator’s bias — “toxic products” (0:22), “highly damaging” (0:34) — but by the second half of the video, I can’t be bothered to keep track, so from 1:13 on, hello, blunt anti-fracking opinion.

(Not that the creators were trying to hide their bias, mind you.)

Meanwhile, some companies in the oil and gas industry  want to pretend as though there’s no controversy at all:

Here we get snazzy graphics and a couple of comments to subtlety defend against the accusations lobbed their way:

  • Fracking merely exploiting “natural zones of weakness” and being contained “well below the ground” (i.e. groundwater): 1:31-1:50.
  • Recycling/disposing of fracking liquids “according to state and federal regulations” at 3:25-3:35.

(Could’ve done with some battle music…)

Inevitably, I’m not labeling these biases as good or bad; I’m just pointing out what’s there. Except you, leprechaun with the pot of gold, hurry up already. I’ve got bills to pay.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

Vortex Tools explores the recent changes to oil and gas fracking regulations going into 2012.

Ah, the second week of the New Year. The gyms are still packed, diets are still obeyed, but some things are already changing.

Fracking (using highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals to fracture a rock layer for improved oil and gas productivity) may not resemble anything close to a green issue, but the controversial practice is set to face some potentially major changes. Given the outcry from environmentalists, it’s an issue that touches every company in the oil and gas industry, whether they’re involved with the practice or not. (Despite providing green benefits in the oil and gas industry by eliminating vapors, reducing volatile flowback startup times, and improving natural gas liquid recovery, Vortex Tools has no tie to fracking.)

Admittedly, when hydraulic fracturing started getting popular in oil and gas, I figured the Environmental Protection Agency wouldn’t let it last in its current form (my bet was less than five years). Sure enough, the EPA and the oil and gas industry are duking it out now over the practice, and it is likely that regulation changes loom in the near future. Other parts of the world are already shifting, as France already banned fracking in July 2011 and the Nova Scotia government will make recommendations on changes to fracking in March 2012.

Here's an image of a *small* fracking job

The basic stances are as follows:

1) The oil and gas industry believes that the science behind fracking is sound, and when enacted properly, no groundwater contamination occurs, as the fracking veins don’t spread anywhere near water. They also contend that many of the pollutants blamed on fracking chemicals are actually naturally occurring.

2) Environmentalists contend that fracking chemicals are responsible for groundwater contamination, and that given the way water naturally flows to the path of least resistance, the veins created by the force of fracking not only provide routes for contamination, but fundamentally damage the rock structure, causing even more problems.

One of the main points of contention is the contents of fracking chemicals. Environmentalists believe the contents need to be disclosed to fully assess their potential damage, whereas fracking chemical suppliers don’t want their patented secrets revealed to their competitors. Regardless,  these cases of disclosure are still fought on a state-by-state basis. Wyoming was one of the first states to disclose fracking chemical contents and Colorado has ruled to make public all fracking chemical contents, even those considered trade secrets.

In December 2011, the EPA announced for the first time that fracking chemicals may be to blame for a groundwater pollution. Even with that theoretical accusation, several oil and gas companies, including Chesapeake and EnCana (who owns the Wyoming field in question), disputed the claim, citing the need for more definitive (and independent) data before assigning fault. Both companies again asserted, internally and publicly, that what the EPA is blaming on fracking chemicals is caused by nature.

Okay, let’s have a moment of honesty here: With the EPA and Chesapeake on opposite sides of the fracking issue, is anyone surprised at these findings and subsequent rebuttals? If so, I’ve got other news for you: The sky is still blue and some celebrity got divorced.

Whatever your view on fracking and its pros and cons, this is a heated issue that’s likely to evolve and unlikely be resolved any time soon. How much change fracking regulations will go through in 2012 has yet to be seen, but one thing is clear: Neither side will be appeased.

Oh, and I don’t think fracking detractors are going to ditch the trend of using “frack” as a derogatory and implied, substitute cuss word either. I’ll bet money on that one.

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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:

SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with a 3.5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).

Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).

Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) 

Read Full Post »

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