last week SWEI wrote:
This discussion would be more appropriate in a separate thread. Want to start one?
so I just offhandedly replied, so you want to take this out in the hall.
and that happened just when i was rushing off because a pilot was out (in a couple years, no one will remember what a pilot was anyway) and I looked quickly for where we ought to do that. Some forums have an 'other stuff' spot. Cause what you think about fracking is at best tangentially related to heating help --- well, maybe not I think it helps heating -- but before getting to the meat of the matter, I'm thinking it might be administratively sensible for Dan to add a subforum called "The Hall" for this kind of stuff.
on the other hand, you can find anything on a wall, so if it is just a question of clarifying the topic and avoiding getting too deep into the values segment of the cost benefit discusssions that sometimes arise in making judgments about efficiencies we ought to seek to obtain, trust the title of this thread will keep the rhetorically wary at bay.
i probably need not say much more than the title to get things going. SWEI figured there has to be something wrong because the companies don't want to disclose what they put in their fracking fluid -- that is one of the main 'exceptions' to industrial disclosures they have maintained.
As it turns out, this is a little more like Coke not wanting to disclose their secret formula. Not because its full of poison -- i suppose some who think of sugar as the root of all evil might disagree -- but because its their trade secret.
One of the misconceptions is that fracking is what is new about recent gas drilling. SWEI correctly recognizes that fracking has been with us for a century or more. the real recent innovation is directional drilling. The deposits that yield gas (and liquids including propane esp. in the western reaches of the marcellus and overlapping shales kind of ohio side) are relatively narrow in height and drilling them requires not only drilling down and turning horizontal for more exposure but actually following this 200 or 300 foot thick band of yield through its own up and down undulations.
not only is fracking not new to water wells, it has been long used in the oil and gas exploration industry. and the old adage about oil and water not mixing comes into play. so while the vast majority of the fluid used is water, the idea of relative miniscule fraction of additives at play is to use stuff that is soapy or oily, i.e. slippery, since the physical openings created by fracking are marginal, and you are trying to aid the fugagcious hyrdocarbons that won't mix with water to move throw this complex to the well.
so while companies preciously guard their experiential knowledge about the best mix for return, one of the obvious widely used additives to this fracking emulsion is diesel. putting oil into oil bearing rock a mile below the water table where you are fighting to frack the actual deposit of a couple hundred feet.
so we're suddenly producing gas as if we were russia or saudi arabia and they get a couple people on camera who have methane in their groundwater. that's also been going on for years, before we started taking oil and gas out of the ground we knew it was there because it seeped to the surface on its own or came up from shallow wells.
and then when we needed steel in world war II they went around pulling all the casings out of the ground on oil wells and we were expecting.
so they go nuts casing this wells now. and i'm not saying you could never have a problem or that they don't bear regular monitoring and occasional remediation. but with this kind of revolution, if it really was being carried on in wanton fashion as some imagine, you would have literally thousands of refugees from fracking -- i don't mean thousands of opponents, its easy enough to scare folks about this -- see the new york state ban. kind of strikes me like all those products that say "known by the state of california to cause cancer".
I'm open to evidence based concerns about better practices that should be adopted but in general, there is nothing i like seeing better than an oil well and our technology keeps getting better, safer and lower footprint so, to me, it is the blessed technology of fracking, which additionally to driving the peak oil crazies nuts, has given us a new breathing room in the geopolitical sphere, just when it is becoming evident that neither professed bellicosity nor amicability (and ridiculous nobel prizes for 'peaceful aspirations') can secure hydrocarbon energy from unstable sources that have been its font.
best regards for a sunday.
hope that was naughty enough to get you going. got to go kitesurfing. one of my last days of the year.