Your Nov 2 Fracking position paper caught my attention. I am a certified petroleum geologist with over 20 years experience in domestic and international production and exploration. My recent 14 years has been in water resource industry.
No doubt the frac practice has lead to a number of economic benefits. The author has addressed the major concerns with current best management practice examples. We should rejoice if all involved corporations followed best management practices. We all know human accidents happen even if we are trying our best. Sadly, profits have a funny way of taking control over BMPs.
It should be outlawed to use drinking-grade water for the frac process. Is it coincidence that water aquifers in the South Texas Eagleford play have dropped 60 feet in two years? Frac water with salinities similar to the frac-zone of interest should be desirable to stabilize formation clays. Such water could be obtained at depths close to the frac-zone of interest.
Hopefully, the injection wells that are used to dispose of toxic pump-back wastewater are monitored for proper pressures and volume. Injection capacities must be identified. Also, that all well construction must be inspected for proper assembly and inherent deterioration.
It’s probable the federal and state government do not have the qualified manpower to monitor these technical situations. Also, it would be naive to believe the oil industry could monitor themselves. Such is the dilemma: ideally petroleum personnel should be recruited by third-party, non-bias organizations but it’s difficult to match salaries.
As we invest less in oil and gas imports, perhaps the monetary savings at the federal level can be directed to areas such as decreasing the national debt, investing in more sustainable energy sources and assisting land owners with problems that do relate to the drilling and production activity. Baseline surface and groundwater studies must be conducted prior to drilling anywhere to provide a data comparison to address groundwater quantity and quality.
A national energy policy would be a fruitful guide to managing our natural resources-water, oil, gas and the environment. Property owners, corporations, state and feds would then be required to agree on what’s best for the nation. This is an expensive multivariable, socio-economic problem with multi-solution levels; not as obvious as the author presents. We are all involved and impacted and therefore we all can be part of the solutions and sacrifices. As a bumper sticker once said: “Please God give me one more oil boom and I promise I will not screw it up."
Peaks Island, ME.