A Fracking protest with No Fracking signs

Fracking our way around the world.

*CO, as in clueless inCO state Representative Randy Baugardner (R), apparently unaware of the difference between naturally occurring methane and methane produced in the fracking process, allows as how the Indians “traveled to the ‘burning waters’.  And that was methane in the waters and that was for warmth in the wintertime.” And any word to the contrary is simply propaganda.  So there.

*WY:  Who knew, why not?  Fracking is occurring at much shallower depths than we’ve been led to believe, according to a new Stanford University study.  Not only that, but frackers  are even boring  “through underground sources of drinking water”—at least at two Wyoming  sites (Wind River and Fort Union in the Pavillion gas field)–and some at depths of only a few thousand feet.   The 2005 Energy Policy Act excluded fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, but  “the industry has long held that it does not hydraulically fracture into underground sources of drinking water”.  Has the  drinking water in the areas studied actually been contaminated?  Nobody knows, particularly in the absence of government activity to test it.  Turns out, EPA doesn’t even have a database of wells around the country.  How’d that happen?

*ND:  Keepin’ the faith.  A study by The Environmental Integrity Project raises the question whether operators are continuing to use diesel in the fracking process, and doing so without permits.  A spokesperson with ND’s Department of Mineral Resources responded that “she has faith that companies are not using diesel in their fracking”, and she has “complete faith” in the system the department uses to keep track of these things.  The study, however, maintains that 80% of chemicals used in the drilling are not disclosed.  Video at the link.

*ND:  So, where’s the $1.5 million?  Halek Operating ND LLC  dumped 20,000 barrels (that’s 800,000 gallons) of “toxic oilfield wastewater” back in 2012, tried to cover up its activity and subsequently was issued a $1.5 million fine.  And that’s just one among some “300 oil spills” and some “750 ‘oil field incidents’” since 2012 around ND that have not been publicly acknowledged.  As for Halek, well, it’s never paid the $1.5 million fine, has been dissolved, is under federal investigation and the area where it dumped the toxic wastewater has never been cleaned up, either.

*ND:  As for those oil-bombs on rail . . ..  ND’s Industrial Commission is planning a public hearing “on possible steps to reduce volatility” at well sites, before the highly flammable stuff is put onto trains, or being stored.  The feds seem interested in this, sending a delegation to ND for briefings by the state’s Industrial Commission on the situation.  Oil executives, however, maintain that regulations at state and federal levels don’t address stabilizing crude prior to shipment—and that it’s unnecessary.  (Stabilization consists of “heat and pressure to force light hydrocarbon molecules . . . to boil out of the liquid crude”, thus making it safer to transport.)  Curious, then, that stabilizing equipment, not used in ND, is “commonplace” in TX.

*PA frackers using diesel?  According to the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), “At least four Marcellus Shale gas drilling companies in Pennsylvania have used kerosene, a diesel fuel equivalent, in their hydraulic fracturing fluid mixture without getting required permits”.  Somehow or other, the “Halliburton Loophole” in the 2005 Energy Policy Act failed to exempt diesel from a special permitting requirement  frackers and their friends in Washington apparently consider onerous.  Additionally,  it only took nine years for the Environmental Protection Agency to define ‘diesel’ as including kerosene.  EIP identified 25 wells in PA that do not have permits to use diesel, which allegedly they did from 2010 through July 2014.  EIP claims are hotly disputed, needless to say.

*TX lawsuits.  A second family in TX has filed a civil lawsuit “that could draw new attention to the toxic air emissions from oil and gas production.”  Benzene, toluene and other toxic releases from Marathon and Plains Exploration have made the family’s life “unbearable”, according to the most recent suit.  Earlier, another TX family won $2.9 million in a similar suit against Aruba Petroleum.   Until now, such lawsuits have been considered “almost unwinnable” due to lack of scientific studies of industry emission.  Maybe that’s going to change, however, just as it did for tobacco.

*The Arctic: ExxonMobil and Rosneft united to drill. The most important event of the year for the oil and gas industry.”  US sanctions on Russia because of Ukraine? Pfft, not when there’s oil drilling to be done and money to be made.  US ban on sharing fracking technology and EU ban on selling oil exploration and production machinery with Russia?  Pfft, not when ExxonMobil and Rosneft have joined hands in deep commitment to make this enterprise work.   North Atlantic Drilling’s monster West Alpha Rig, has been carefully prepared by Rosneft and ExxonMobil specifically for this venture.  Predictions are that, with ExxonMobil’s clout, “It is unlikely the U.S. and Europe will play hardball with Russian energy.”  See how easy it is to overcome international tensions—just apply that sweet money-power lubricant and away we go.

*Ukraine says no to foreign investors.  Meanwhile, Ukraine has introduced “a tax code that doubles tax rates for private gas producers and benefits certain local political-business elites at the expense of the state and the need to develop more resources”.  Thanks to the current volatile, de-stabilized situation in the Ukraine, over 3 million barrels of oil/day , estimated at 4% of total global output, are kept out of the market.

*Mexico says yes to foreign investorsEarthquakes are occurring in areas of Mexico where they used to be rare, increasing from two in 2006 to 200 in 2014.  Drought, already a major problem in northern Mexico, will be made considerably worse by diverting what water there is to fracking, which, in turn, will result in heavily polluted water that has to be stored somewhere.  Pemex says fracking is necessary, however, the “key to Mexico’s future”.   Thousands of fracking wells are planned for dry, hot northern Mexico. (h/t normanb)   An obliging Mexican legislature, dazzled by possibly $1 trillion in foreign investment,  passed by 90-27, rules “that will . . . end the 76-year state monopoly on oil and gas held by Pemex.”

Stay tuned.

Photo by CREDO.fracking released under a Creative Commons license.