Fracking: “Meet The Regulators” York, UK – November 29th 2016 and Related News



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Kirby Misperton Permit (Thrid Energy)



“From Mud to cement – Building Gas Wells”

Wells at Risk

Since the earliest gas wells, uncontrolled migration of hydrocarbons to the surface has challenged the oil and gas industry. Gas migration, also called annular flow, can lead to
sustained casing pressure (SCP), sometimes called sustained annular pressure (SAP).
Sustained casing pressure can be characterized as the development of annular pressure at the surface that can be bled to zero, but then builds again. The presence of SCP indicates that there is communication to the annulus from a sustainable pressure source because of inadequate zonal isolation. Annular flow and SCP are significant problems affecting wells in many hydrocarbon-producing regions of the world. 3 In the Gulf of Mexico, there are approximately 15,500 producing, shut-in and temporarily abandoned wells in the outer continental shelf (OCS) area.
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4 United States Minerals Management Service (MMS) data show that 6692 of these wells, or 43%, have reported SCP on at least one casing annulus. In this group of wells with SCP, pressure is present in 10,153 of all casing annuli: 47.1% of the annuli are in production strings, 26.2% are in surface casing, 16.3% are in intermediate strings, and 10.4% are in conductor pipe. The presence of SCP appears to be related to

well age; older wells are generally more likely to experience SCP. By the time a well is 15 years old, there is a 50% probability that it will have measurable SCP in one or more of its casing annuli [above] . However, SCP may be present in wells of any age. In the Gulf of Mexico OCS area, SCP generally results from either direct communication of shallow gas-bearing sands with the surface or poor primary cementing that exposes deeper
gas-bearing sands through gas migration. Most wells in the Gulf of Mexico have multiple casing strings and produce through production tubing
3. Frigaard IA and Pelipenko S: “Effective and Ineffective Strategies for Mud Removal and Cement Slurry Design,” paper SPE 80999, presented at the SPE Latin American
and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference, Port-of -Spain, Trinidad, West Indies, April 27–30, 2003.
4. United States Minerals Management Service statistics: (accessed August 21, 2003).

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SOURCE = Schlumberger Limited




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Fracking hell: what it’s really like to live next to a shale gas well

December 14, 2014

Veronica Kronvall can, even now, remember how excited she felt about buying her house in 2007. It was the first home she had ever owned and, to celebrate, her aunt fitted out the kitchen in Kronvall’s favourite colour, purple: everything from microwave to mixing bowls. A cousin took pictures of her lying on the floor of the room that would become her bedroom. She planted roses and told herself she would learn how to garden. What Kronvall did not imagine at the time – even here in north Texas, the pumping heart of the oil and gas industry – was that four years later an energy company would drill five wells behind her home. The closest two are within 300ft of her tiny patch of garden, and their green pipes and tanks loom over the fence. As the drilling began, Kronvall, 52, began having nosebleeds, nausea and headaches. Her home lost nearly a quarter of its value and some of her neighbours went into foreclosure. “It turned a peaceful little life into a bit of a nightmare,” she says.

Energy analysts in the US have been as surprised as Kronvall at how fast fracking has proliferated. Until five years ago, America’s oil and gas production had been in steady decline as reservoirs of conventional sources dried up. Then a Texas driller, George Mitchell, began trying out new technologies on the Barnett Shale, the geological formation that lies under the city of Fort Worth, Texas, and the smaller towns to the north, where Kronvall lives. Mitchell did not invent the technique. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was first used in the 1940s to get the gas out of conventional wells. As the well shaft descended into the layer of shale, the driller would blast 2m-4m gallons of water, sand and a cocktail of chemicals down the shaft at high pressure, creating thousands of tiny cracks in the rock to free the gas. Mitchell’s innovation was to combine the technology with directional drilling, turning a downward drill bit at a 90-degree angle to drill parallel to the ground for thousands of feet. It took him more than 15 years of drilling holes all over the Barnett Shale to come up with the right mix of water and chemicals, but eventually he found a way to make it commercially viable to get at the methane in the tightly bound layers of shale. The new technology has turned the Barnett Shale into the largest producible reserve of onshore natural gas in the US. Other operators, borrowing from Mitchell’s work, began drilling in Colorado, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and, most recently, California. More than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of an oil or gas well, 6 million of them in Texas.

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SOURCE = The Guardian




The integrity of oil and gas wells

Public concerns about oil and natural gas extraction these days inevitably turn to
hydraulic fracturing, where millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals are
pumped underground at high pressures to crack open rocks. Hydraulic fracturing of-
ten occurs a mile or more down, far from the water we drink or the air we breathe. The
focus for safety and environmental stewardship should often be somewhere else—nearer
the surface—emphasizing risks from spills, wastewater disposal, and the integrity of oil
and natural gas wells passing through drinking-water aquifers (14). In PNAS, Ingraffea
et al. (5) examine one of these factors, well integrity, across the Marcellus region of
Pennsylvania, using inspection records from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). In a technical sense, “well integrity” refers to the zonal isolation of liquids and gases from the target formation or from intermediate layers through which the well passes. In a practical sense, it means that a well doesn’t leak. Drilling companies emphasize well integrity because a faulty well is expensive to repair and, in the rarest of cases, costs lives, as in the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Drillers use steel casing (pipes), cement between nested casings and between the outside casing and rock wall, and mechanical devices to keep fluids inside the well. Faulty casing and cementing cause most well integrity problems. Steel casing can leak at the connections or corrode from acids. Cement can deteriorate with time too, but leaks also happen when cement shrinks, develops cracks or channels, or is lost into the surrounding rock when applied. If integrity fails, gases and liquids can leak out of the casing or, just as  importantly, move into, up, and out of the well through faulty cement between the casing and the rock wall.

Rates of Well Failure

Much is known and unknown about well integrity. Historical rates of well “failure” in oil  and gas fields vary from a few percent of wells with barrier failures to >40% (4). Analyses of 8,000 offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico show that 11 – 12% of wells developed pressure in the outer strings (called “sustained casing pressure”) (6), as did 3.9% of 316,000 wells in Alberta (7). However, not all wells with a single barrier failure leak now or

later (8); there can be multiple safety barriers and there must be a pressure or buoyancy
gradient for fluids to migrate. Previous analyses of well integrity in the Marcellus region, where Ingraffea et al. (5) worked, found various results. Considine et al. (9) used state violation records to estimate that 2.6% of 3,533 gas wells drilled between 2008 and 2011  had barrier or integrity failure. Vidic et al. (3) extended the timeline (2008 – 2013) and  number of wells studied (6,466) and found that 3.4% had well-barrier leakage, primarily from casing and cementing problems. Davies et al. (4) estimated that 6.3% of wells drilled between 2005 and 2013 had a well-barrier or integrity failure, consistent with Ingraffea et al.’s number of 6.2% for unconventional wells (5). The latter two studies had slightly  higher estimates because they included comments from the DEP database in their analyses, including cases where remedial action was taken but notices of violation were not issued
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Legislation & policy: mineral ownership

Mineral ownership in the UK

In the UK ‘minerals’ are defined in Town and Country Planning legislation as:

‘all substances in or under land of a kind ordinarily worked for removal by underground or surface working, except that it does not include peat cut for purposes other than for sale.’

With the exception of oil, gas, coal, gold and silver, the state does not own mineral rights in the UK. Generally minerals are held in private ownership, and information on mineral rights, where available, is held by the Land Registry together with details of land surface ownership.

Minerals in state ownership

The origin of the ‘Crown Estate’ is in 1066. After the Norman Conquest all land belonged to the King and despite changes since then, there is still a presumption that land is owned by the Crown unless there is evidence to prove otherwise. Crown land is managed on behalf of the government by the Crown Estate, which must now be managed by a Board who have a duty to maintain and enhance the estate using good management techniques.

Oil and gas

The UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) comprises those areas of the seabed and beneath the seabed, beyond territorial waters (12 mile limit), over which the UK exercises sovereign rights of exploration and exploitation of mineral resources (excluding hydrocarbons).

Ownership of oil and gas within the land area of Great Britain was vested in the Crown by the Petroleum (Production) Act 1934. The Continental Shelf Act 1964 applied the provisions of the 1934 Act to the UKCS outside territorial waters.

For landward exploration a licence is required, which grants exclusive rights to exploit for and develop oil and gas onshore within Great Britain. The rights granted by landward licences do not include any rights of access, and the licensees must also obtain any consent under current legislation, including planning permissions. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills grants licences to explore for and exploit all oil and gas resources. Licensees wishing to enter or drill through coal seams for coalbed methane and coal mine gas must also seek the permission of the Coal Authority.

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SOURCE = NERC Science of the Environment



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Mining, minerals and petroleum rights

In general mineral rights in Australia are reserved to the Crown. Notwithstanding, in some cases the minerals may continue to be owned by the land owner.

The acquisition of rights to minerals stems from separate legislative frameworks in each State. These frameworks provide initially for exploration of the resource, and consist of the grant by the Crown in the form of exploration permits, licences or leases. Exploration permits, leases or licences permit works to be undertaken to determine the likely existence of minerals or resources. Actual mining is subject to a further grant of mining or minerals production leases or licences. The legislation also provides for the payment of royalties to the State and to compensate the owners or occupiers of the surface land. Austrade has some useful resources and factsheets about minerals and energy resources in Australia.

Mining, minerals and petroleum rights in the Northern Territory

Over 80% of the mineral value extracted in the Northern Territory comes off Aboriginal owned land. Approximately 30% of this land is currently under exploration or under negotiation. In the Northern Territory, the exploration and mining for minerals and extractive minerals (such as sand, gravel and soil) is subject to the Territory’s Mineral Titles Act. Resource companies must further enter into good faith negotiations with Aboriginal people, with agreements reached to include benefits for all parties.

All negotiations should be conducted through the land councils, who can ensure that the rightful owners are involved in consultations, that any agreement is objective and that any agreement made will be honoured. Under the Land Rights Act, Aboriginal land owners have the right to agree or disagree to mining or exploratory activity on their land. More information about agreement making with land councils can be found in the engagement guide.

Mining, minerals and petroleum rights in Queensland

There are different types of permits, licences and leases in operation in Queensland relating to exploration, development and/or production of minerals, petroleum and gas. These are outlined in Applying for a Resource Authority on the Queensland Government website. Royalties are payable depending on the type of resource and the size of the activity.

For example, a mining lease in Queensland allows leaseholders to conduct large scale mining operations and may be issued for a specific mineral. More information regarding mining and mineral exploration leases in Queensland can be found on the Queensland Government’s website.

Information and processes for resolving native title matters relating to applications for mining and exploration are contained in the Business and Industry Portal produced by the Queensland Government. More information about agreement making with traditional owners and native title owners can be found in the engagement guide on this website.

Mining, minerals and petroleum rights in Western Australia

Under the Western Australian Mining Act 1978, the act of “mining” is said to include prospecting, fossicking and exploring for minerals. All minerals including petroleum and geothermal energy existing in their natural form are owned by the State. Notwithstanding, some resources found on the land like limestone, rock, gravel and sand fall outside the operation of the Act.

Royalties are usually payable to the State for productive mining or the sale of extracted hydrocarbons. Annual rental payments are also required for petroleum tenures, prospecting licences, exploration licences and mining leases.

The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) works with other Government departments and authorities, conservation bodies, the community and both the mineral and petroleum industries, in order to achieve a balance between the needs of all. DMP also facilitates access in accordance with relevant legislation and government policy concerning native title, Aboriginal heritage and land-access planning for exploration, mining, and development of the Western Australia’s mineral resources on all land areas of the State and adjoining coastal waters.

Specifically, access to reserves held by the Aboriginal Lands Trust for mining related activity will require the proponent to consult with relevant Aboriginal stakeholders and potentially reach agreement on the terms under which that access might be undertaken.

The guidelines for obtaining a mining lease along with land tenure specific information for mining leases can be found on the DMP website. More information about engaging with traditional owners can be found in the engagement guide.

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SOURCE = Australian Government



ABC Australia

Victorian fracking ban legislation to be in introduced

November 22, 2016

The Victorian Government will introduce legislation today to permanently ban fracking following what the Premier described as “one of the most amazing community campaigns” in Australian history. Fracking is used to extract so-called unconventional gases such as coal seam, tight and shale gas by pumping high-pressure water and chemicals into rock, fracturing it to release trapped gases. There has been fears the chemicals could contaminate groundwater supplies and threaten agricultural industries. The Victorian Government held a parliamentary inquiry into unconventional gas industries and announced earlier this year it would bring in a permanent ban.

Premier Daniel Andrews said there was a strong community campaign against fracking and unconventional gas. The previous Government introduced a moratorium on fracking in 2012, but there are still companies holding exploration licences to look for unconventional gas deposits. Resources Minister Wade Noonan said the Government would compensate licence holders because of the ban. “I think it’s important to preserve Victoria’s place as a reliable place to do business,” Mr Noonan said.

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Shallow fracking raises questions for water, new Stanford research shows

The United States now produces about as much crude oil as Saudi Arabia does, and enough natural gas to export in large quantities. That’s thanks to hydraulic fracturing, a mining practice that involves a rock-cracking pressurized mix of water, sand and chemicals. Ongoing research by Stanford environmental scientist Rob Jackson attempts to minimize the risks of “fracking” to underground drinking water sources. The most recent such study, published in Environmental Science & Technology, finds that at least 6,900 oil and gas wells in the U.S. were fracked less than a mile (5,280 feet) from the surface, and at least 2,600 wells were fracked at depths shallower than 3,000 feet, some as shallow as 100 feet. This occurs despite many reports that describe fracking as safe for drinking water only if it occurs at least thousands of feet to a mile underground, according to Jackson. The authors also estimated water use for hydraulic fracturing in each state. The states with the highest average water use per well were Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Perhaps most surprisingly, the researchers discovered that at least 2,350 wells less than one mile deep had been fracked using more than 1 million gallons of water each. Shallower high-volume hydraulic fracturing poses a greater potential threat to underground water sources because there is so little separation between the chemicals pumped underground and the drinking water above them. “Shallow hydraulic fracturing is surprisingly common,” said Jackson, the Michelle and Kevin Douglas Provostial Professor in the School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy.  “The places where hydraulic fracturing is both shallow and water-intensive may need additional safeguards.” For example, Arkansas had more than 300 wells fracked shallower than 3,000 feet, using an average of 5 million gallons of water and chemicals.  Other states that fracked wells shallower than 3,000 feet using more than a million gallons each included New Mexico (16), Texas (10), Pennsylvania (seven) and California (two).

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SOURCE = Stanford University



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Methane in UK groundwater research overview

Methane (CH4) is an important greenhouse gas and a common trace component of groundwater.

We are currently undertaking a National Baseline Methane Survey in groundwaters across the UK. This work will enable future changes to be measured, which is of relevance to current issues such as possible shale gas extraction.

The BGS has been studying methane in UK groundwaters since the 1980s to investigate:

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Groundwater methane contribution to total atmospheric emissions

Using baseline methane concentrations for the main groundwater supply aquifers in the UK, Gooddy and Darling (2005) estimated that water supply groundwater sources contribute only 0.05 per cent to total UK methane emissions (up to 3.3 x 10-4 Tg/year).

In terms of a global budget, the groundwater methane input was estimated to be two orders of magnitude smaller.


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SOURCE = British Geological Survey




Assessment and risk analysis of casing and cement impairment in oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania, 2000–2012


Previous research has demonstrated that proximity to unconventional gas development is associated with elevated concentrations of methane in groundwater aquifers in Pennsylvania. To date, the mechanism of this migration is poorly understood. Our study, which looks at more than 41,000 conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells, helps to explain one possible mechanism of methane migration: compromised structural integrity of casing and cement in oil and gas wells. Additionally, methane, being the primary constituent of natural gas, is a strong greenhouse gas. The identification of mechanisms through which methane may migrate to the atmosphere as fugitive emissions is important to understand the climate dimensions of oil and gas development.

Keywords: shale oil and gas, casing integrity, cement integrity, onshore wells, wellbore integrity


Casing and cement impairment in oil and gas wells can lead to methane migration into the atmosphere and/or into underground sources of drinking water. An analysis of 75,505  compliance reports for 41,381 conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania drilled from January 1, 2000–December 31, 2012, was performed with the objective of determining complete and accurate statistics of casing and cement impairment. Statewide data show a sixfold higher incidence of cement and/or casing issues for shale gas wells relative to conventional wells. The Cox proportional hazards model was used to estimate risk of impairment based on existing data. The model identified both temporal and geographic differences in risk. For post-2009 drilled wells, risk of a cement/casing impairment is 1.57-fold [95% confidence interval (CI) (1.45, 1.67); P < 0.0001] higher in an unconventional gas well relative to a conventional well drilled within the same time period. Temporal differences between well types were also observed and may reflect more thorough inspections and greater emphasis on finding well leaks, more detailed note taking in the available inspection reports, or real changes in rates of structural integrity loss due to rushed development or other unknown factors. Unconventional gas wells in northeastern (NE) Pennsylvania are at a 2.7-fold higher risk relative to the conventional wells in the same area. The predicted cumulative risk for all wells (unconventional and conventional) in the NE region is 8.5-fold [95% CI (7.16, 10.18); P < 0.0001] greater than that of wells drilled in the rest of the state.

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Groundwater Protection Zones (York, North Yorkshire)

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SOURCE = Environment Agency



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Four of 10 wells forecast to fail in northeastern Pa.

About 40 percent of the oil and gas wells in parts of the Marcellus shale region will probably be leaking methane into the groundwater or into the atmosphere, concludes a Cornell-led research team that examined the records of more than 41,000 such wells in Pennsylvania. In research published today (June 30) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers examined Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection inspection records that show compromised cement and/or casing integrity in more than 6 percent of the active gas wells drilled in the Marcellus region of Pennsylvania. This study shows up to a 2.7-fold higher risk for unconventional wells – relative to conventional wells – drilled since 2009 in the northeastern region of the Marcellus in Pennsylvania.

“These results, particularly in light of numerous contamination complaints and explosions nationally in areas with high concentrations of unconventional oil and gas development and the increased awareness of the role of methane in … climate change, should be cause for concern,” said the researchers in the paper. Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell professor of civil and environmental engineering, an expert on drilling and hydraulic fracturing, led the study. Both conventional and unconventional oil and gas wells are 8.5 times more likely to leak methane in northeastern Pennsylvania than throughout the rest of the state, according to the study. The researchers examined 75,505 publicly available compliance reports for 41,381 oil and gas wells in Pennsylvania from 2000 to 2012 to determine whether the well casing or the cement used was impaired. The shale gas wells were six times more likely to leak, compared with conventional wells.

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SOURCE = Cornell University




Could fracking be worse for the climate than coal?

The Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island asserts that a new liquefied natural gas facility at Fields Point would accelerate climate change. The league’s position paper, posted at, predicts that the storage facility proposed by National Grid would increase emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. “While the oil and gas industry and their supporters like to present ‘natural gas’ as a ‘cleaner’ alternative or a ‘bridge fuel’ towards a renewable future, in reality, gas produced by fracking is worse for the climate than coal,” the paper says. So coal is cleaner than natural gas? The primary source for this material is Cornell University’s Robert W. Howarth, who has researched the climate-warming effects of methane that escapes into the atmosphere during the lifespan of fracked gas — from drilling to combustion.  

In fracking, water is pumped underground at high pressure to fracture shale to free up gas or oil. Methane is released in the process. The impact of gases — methane from coal-burning plants and carbon dioxide from automobiles — depends on how potent they are and how long they remain in the atmosphere. Methane is 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas during the 10 years following its emission, according to Howarth. But methane stays in the atmosphere for a little more than a decade, while carbon dioxide, some say, hangs around for 1,000 years. The point, Howarth says, is that global warming has moved into a critical period. It’s urgent, he says, to stave off what he calls “runaway global warming” — a scenario he believes is possible during the next 20 years. In the short-term, fracked gas is worse for the climate than coal-burning.

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SOURCE = PolitiFact




Natural gas from fracking could be ‘dirtier’ than coal, Cornell professors find

April 11, 2011

Extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale could do more to aggravate global warming than mining coal, according to a Cornell study published in the May issue of Climatic Change Letters (105:5). While natural gas has been touted as a clean-burning fuel that produces less carbon dioxide than coal, ecologist Robert Howarth warns that we should be more concerned about methane leaking into the atmosphere during hydraulic fracturing. Natural gas is mostly methane, which is a much more potent greenhouse gas, especially in the short term, with 105 times more warming impact, pound for pound, than carbon dioxide (CO2), Howarth said, adding that even small leaks make a big difference. He estimated that as much as 8 percent of the methane in shale gas leaks into the air during the lifetime of a hydraulic shale gas well — up to twice what escapes from conventional gas production.

“The take-home message of our study is that if you do an integration of 20 years following the development of the gas, shale gas is worse than conventional gas and is, in fact, worse than coal and worse than oil,” Howarth said. “We are not advocating for more coal or oil, but rather to move to a truly green, renewable future as quickly as possible. We need to look at the true environmental consequences of shale gas.” Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology, Tony Ingraffea, the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering, and Renee Santoro, a research technician in ecology and evolutionary biology, analyzed data from published sources, industry reports and even Powerpoint presentations from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They compared estimated emissions for shale gas, conventional gas, coal (surface-mined and deep-mined) and diesel oil, taking into account direct emissions of CO2 during combustion, indirect emissions of CO2 necessary to develop and use the energy source and methane emissions, which were converted to equivalent value of CO2 for global warming potential.

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SOURCE = Cornell University



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Obama Administration Urged to Halt Dumping of Offshore Fracking Waste Into Gulf of Mexico – Proposed Permit Threatens Sea Turtles, Fish, Other Gulf Wildlife

September 19, 2016

ATLANTA— An Obama administration proposal to continue allowing oil companies to dump unlimited amounts of offshore fracking chemicals into the Gulf of Mexico violates federal law and threatens endangered marine wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity warned over the weekend. In a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency on a proposed wastewater discharge permit for offshore oil and gas drilling activities in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Center explained that the proposed permit violates the Clean Water Act because it causes an undue degradation of the marine environment. “The permit allows the unlimited discharge of produced wastewater, including the unlimited discharge of chemicals used in offshore fracking and other well-stimulation treatments,” the letter noted.

“The EPA is endangering an entire ecosystem by allowing the oil industry to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and drilling waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. “This appalling plan from the agency that’s supposed to protect our water violates federal law and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking’s toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife.” Today’s letter also points out that the EPA is relying on a 33-year-old study of waste fluid produced by offshore platforms, despite the drilling of more than 450 wells in the area since 2010 alone. The letter urges EPA to adopt a zero-discharge requirement for produced water and fracking chemicals, as is required under other offshore drilling permits. At least 10 fracking chemicals routinely used in offshore fracking could kill or harm a broad variety of marine species, including marine mammals and fish, Center scientists have found. The California Council on Science and Technology has identified some common fracking chemicals to be among the most toxic in the world to marine animals.

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SOURCE = Center for Biological Diversity



Map of Fracking Sites in Yorkshire and the UK

SOURCE = FrackOff



Potential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, MontanaPotential Health and Environmental Effects of Hydrofracking in the Williston Basin, Montana


How Fracking Works

Vertical well bores are drilled thousands of feet into the earth, through sediment layers, the water table, and shale rock formations in order to reach the oil and gas. The drilling is then angled horizontally, where a cement casing is installed and will serve as a conduit for the massive volume of water, fracking fluid, chemicals and sand needed to fracture the rock and shale. In some cases, prior to the injection of fluids, small explosives are used to open up the bedrock. The fractures allow the gas and oil to be removed from the formerly impervious rock formations. Although fracking has technically been in existence for decades, the scale and type of drilling now taking place, deep fracking, is a new form of drilling and was first used in the Barnett shale of Texas in 1999.


Impacts of Fracking

Chemical additives are used in the drilling mud, slurries and fluids required for the fracking process. Each well produces millions of gallons of toxic fluid containing not only the added chemicals, but other naturally occurring radioactive material, liquid hydrocarbons, brine water and heavy metals. Fissures created by the fracking process can also create underground pathways for gases, chemicals and radioactive material. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Geological Survey (USGS) have recently confirmed what residents of Pavillion, Wyoming had been claiming–that hydrofracking had contaminated their groundwater.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) initially under an emergency administrative order forced three oil production companies operating on the Fort Peck Reservation, to reimburse the city of Poplar, MT for water infrastructure expenditures incurred as a result of drilling contamination. The oil companies appealed the EPA order, but were forced to rectify their violations by a federal judge. Another scenario for contamination to occur is by faulty design or construction of the cement well casings–something that happened in the BP Gulf blowout disaster. Storage of the waste water is currently under the regulatory jurisdiction of states, many of whom have weak to nonexistent policies protecting the environment.


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SOURCE = The Science Education Resource Center at Carleton College



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Obama Administration Approved Gulf of Mexico Offshore Hydraulic Fracking During 2014 Deepwater Horizon Disaster

June 24, 2016

Hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) technology has been widely used to maximize oil-and-gas production in the Gulf of Mexico in recent years, and the government allows offshore drillers to dump fracking chemicals mixed with wastewater directly into the Gulf, according to documents released to Truthout and the Center for Biological Diversity under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). From 2010 to October 2014, the Obama administration approved more than 1,500 permit applications for offshore drilling plans that included fracking at hundreds of wells across the Gulf of Mexico, according to the documents. An unknown number of permit applications have yet to be released, so the scope of offshore fracking in the Gulf is likely larger.

During this time regulators issued more than 300 “categorical exclusions” to exempt drilling plans that included fracking from complex environmental reviews. The use of categorical exclusions has been under heavy scrutiny since 2010, when the media learned that BP’s drilling plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig was categorically excluded from review in the months before a deadly explosion on the platform caused the worst oil spill in United States history. Federal records show that regulators approved several drilling plans involving fracking in the Gulf of Mexico even as the Deepwater Horizon disaster unfolded and oil from a broken well spewed into the Gulf for weeks on end. “The Deepwater Horizon disaster should have been a wake up call that we need to move away from offshore drilling,” said Kristen Monsell, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, in an interview with Truthout. “But now the federal government is rubber-stamping practices like fracking without doing any environmental review or notifying the public, and it’s just another disaster waiting to happen.”

Fracking Chemicals Dumped Overboard

Every year, fossil fuel companies are allowed to dump into the Gulf of Mexico billions of gallons of the seawater, brine and chemicals that flow back from oil and gas wells. These include fracking chemicals and naturally occurring radioactive substances from deep under the seafloor. The offshore oil and gas industry dumped 20 billion gallons of this “produced water” into the Gulf in 2014 alone, and nearly half of it was dumped in waters less than 60 meters deep, according federal environmental statements. In 2010, nearly 23 billion gallons went overboard, mostly into shallower waters. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that these fluids be treated to meet certain criteria before being dumped from offshore platforms. Most of the oil and diesel must be removed from the wastewater, and operators are required to visually inspect the surface of the Gulf and take note if a sheen appears. There are also toxicity limits, and operators must conduct toxicity testing either quarterly or annually, depending on how much wastewater goes overboard.

Chemicals used in the offshore fracking process, which are similar or even identical to those used onshore, can be dumped overboard as long as they are “commingled” with the produced water and not included on a federal list of “priority” pollutants, according to the EPA’s wastewater discharge permit. Operators are not required to report the discharge of fracking chemicals when they are diluted in produced water, so it’s unclear how much is dumped into the Gulf on a regular basis. It’s also unclear exactly what the chemicals are. Federal regulators refer to a 2001 study that lists chemicals commonly used in offshore fracking and well stimulation, including corrosive acids, biocides, “foamers” and “defoamers,” surfactants and corrosion inhibitors. At least nine of these chemical products contain hazardous substances such as hydrofluoric acid and ammonium chloride. However, the industry has made major advances since 2001, and federal regulators admit that this list needs to be updated. Last year, BOEM launched a $400,000 study to update the list and compile a “descriptive inventory” of all the chemicals used during offshore drilling in the Gulf.

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SOURCE = Global Research



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Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of hydraulic fracturing

June 2012

Well integrity

‘Well integrity’ refers to preventing shale gas from leaking out of the well by isolating it from other subsurface formations (API 2009). The isolation is provided according to how the well is constructed. A series of holes (‘wellbores’) of decreasing diameter and  increasing depth are drilled and lined with steel casing joined together to form continuous ‘strings’ of casing (see Figure 4):
Conductor casing.
Set into the ground to a depth of approximately 30 metres, the conductor casing serves as a foundation for the well and prevents caving in of surface soils.
Surface casing.
The next wellbore is drilled and sealed with a casing that runs past the bottom of
any freshwater bearing zones (including but not limited to drinking water aquifers) and extends all the way back to the surface. Cement is pumped down the wellbore and up between the casing and the rock until it reaches the surface.
Another wellbore is drilled and lined by an intermediate casing to isolate the well from non-freshwater zones that may cause instability or be abnormally pressurised. The
casing may be sealed with cement typically either up to the base of the surface casing or all the way to the surface.
Production casing.
A final wellbore is drilled into the target rock formation or zone containing shale
gas. Once fractured, the shale gas produces into the well. This wellbore is lined with a production casing that may be sealed with cement either to a safe height above the target formation up to the base of the intermediate casing; or all the way to the surface,  depending on well depths and local geological conditions.
Natural seismicity

UK seismicity is low by world standards. Historical records suggest that the largest seismic events in the UK are likely to be less than magnitude 5 ML, causing limited damage at the surface (see Table 1). On average, the UK experiences seismicity of magnitude 5 ML every

twenty years, and of magnitude 4 ML every three to four years (Green 2012). Most seismic events in the UK occur at depths of over 10km, limiting the extent to which they are felt at the surface. No onshore seismicity in the UK is known to have produced a surface rupture.
Seismic ACtiviy UK.png

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SOURCE = Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering Page 24



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EPA plans for unlimited dumping of fracking wastewater in the Gulf

October 17, 2016

(NaturalNews) If you think that there are rules in place limiting the amount of toxic chemicals that can be released into the nation’s waters, the Center for Biological Diversity has some bad news for you: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to allow unlimited amounts of fracking wastewater to be dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The EPA’s draft plan to keep permitting gas and oil companies to dump unlimited fracking wastewater and chemicals into the Gulf is coming under fire, with some environmentalists pointing out that the move violates federal laws. Attorneys working for the Center for Biological Diversity sent a letter to EPA officials in September warning them that the draft permit does not take into account the way in which dumping this wastewater could affect the quality of not just the water but also the marine life living in it. They also raised concerns that important parts of the draft permit were based on data that is seriously outdated. The letter states that the study of waste fluid produced by offshore platforms that they used is 33 years old, despite the fact that more than 450 wells have been drilled just in the area in question in the past six years. Meanwhile, the most recent list of chemicals for offshore fracking is 15 years old. They added that finalizing the law without making corrections would violate the Clean Water Act.

Center for Biological Diversity attorney Kristen Monsell said: “This appalling plan from the agency that’s supposed to protect our water violates federal law, and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking’s toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife.” This letter does stand a chance of being taken seriously. After all, just a few months ago, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit that led to a temporary moratorium being placed on Pacific Ocean offshore fracking. The same group is also mounting a challenge to the practice of Santa Barbara Channel fracking on the grounds it violates the Endangered Species Act. Hundreds of wells in the Gulf of Mexico have seen the controversial practices used in recent years. In offshore fracking, chemicals, water and sand are pumped into undersea wells at very high pressure in order to break up formations of sand and rock to create pathways in which gas and oil can pass. Drillers also engage in a process known as “acidizing”, which means the wells are treated with hydrochloric acid and other corrosive acids.

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SOURCE = The Tap Blog



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Onshore Hydrocarbon Licensing – An Overview

The UK Government’s 2011 Carbon Plan 1 set out how the UK will make the transition to a  low carbon economy. By moving to a more efficient, low carbon economy with a more diverse range of energy sources, the Government aims to increase energy security and reduce exposure to fluctuating and uncertain fossil fuel prices, as well as to cut greenhouse gas emissions and minimise costs to consumers. The draft Licensing Plan is set within the context of these energy supply and greenhouse gas reduction efforts ; however, even as decarbonisation proceeds, oil and gas will continue to provide an important contribution to UK energy supplies for years to come. In this context, the main objectives of the draft
Licensing Plan are to make a further contribution towards the comprehensive exploration and appraisal of UK oil and gas resources and the economic development of identified reserves, together with developing further gas storage capac ity in hydrocarbon reservoirs, without compromising the biodiversity, ecosystem functioning and the interests of nature and heritage conservation, and other material assets and users.
Fracking license areas.png
The draft Licensing Plan to which this SEA relates is the plan to hold a landward licensing round, inviting applications for oil and gas licences in certain areas of England, Scotland and Wales, so far as not already licensed. DECC is responsible for administering the oil and gas licensing system in Great Britain. All rights and ownership of the hydrocarbon resources of Great Britain (and the UK territorial waters) are vested in the Crown by the Petroleum Act 1998. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change periodically offers licences to search for, and extract, these resources. With the exception of two estuarine areas, that of the Dee/Afon Dyfrdwy and the Forth, only landward areas above the low water line are included in the draft Licensing Plan. The currently licensed areas and the areas under consideration in the draft Licensing Plan are shown in Figure NTS 1. The areas under consideration have not changed since the previous licensing round.
1 HM Government (2011) The Carbon Plan: Delivering our low carbon future, available from
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British Geological Survey Maps


Pickering, Yorkshire



Hornsea, Yorkshire


Beverley, Yorkshire



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Fracking company Cuadrilla halts operations at Lancashire drilling site

March 13, 2013

The fracking company Cuadrilla has halted operations at one of its three drilling sites, citing the need for an environmental assessment. Work at the Anna’s Road site in Westby, Lancashire, will be suspended until next year. The assessment will not be completed before autumn, when work would be disrupted anyway by wintering birds. The company said there were no safety concerns at the site and the work was not halted under the government’s “traffic light” system – which requires a suspension if there are earth tremors caused by shale gas extraction. But it comes just a day after the chairman of Cuadrilla, Lord Browne, told the Guardian he would invest whatever it takes – potentially running to billions of pounds – in the shale dash for gas. Cuadrilla has licences for 10 sites but is only operating at three. Separately, the Guardian can reveal Cuadrilla has been warned by ministers over its “performance as a licensee” at one of its Lancashire sites. It “failed to recognise the significance” of damage to a gas fracking well in 2011 and did not report it to government officials for six months, leading to a stern reprimand by the energy minister, papers released under the Freedom of Information Act show.

In a letter to the company over a year after the incident, the then energy minister, Charles Hendry, expressed concern that it had not been reported to his officials at the time. He said the “failure” had exposed “weaknesses in Cuadrilla’s performance as a licensee”. The events leading to the rebuke began when casing of a well drilled at the Preese Hall site was damaged by an earthquake caused by its drilling on 1 April 2011. The deformation in the well was discovered in routine investigations a few days later. Deformation of well casings can be serious, causing gas or fracking fluids – water and chemicals – to leak. In this case the integrity of the well was not compromised and there were no leaks or danger of contamination. Cuadrilla suspended its fracking operations a few weeks later after a further small tremor, and instigated an investigation in order to eliminate any further risk. But in a letter to Browne dated 11 May 2012, newly released under freedom of information rules, Hendry wrote: “My department is concerned Cuadrilla failed to recognise the significance of the casing deformation experienced in the earth tremor triggered by fracking operations on 1 April 2011.

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SOURCE = The Guardian




Pump-Through Safety Valve

The pump-through safety valve (PTSV) is a safety valve that closes in response to annulus overpressure but can be reopened by pumping down the tubing.

Downhole Safety Valve 1.png

Pump-Through Flapper Safety Valve

The pump-through flapper safety valve (PFSV) provides a reliable means for obtaining downhole shut-in and minimizing wellbore storage during final pressure buildup. It also has the ability to pump into the formation, irrespective of tubing or annulus pressure integrity above the valve.

Downhole Safety Valve 2.png

Single-Ball Safety Valve

The single-ball safety valve (SBSV) is a fully open downhole safety valve that is run in the open position and closes permanently when the disk is ruptured. The operator mandrel is balanced to internal pressure, and is locked in the open position to prevent premature closure.

Downhole Safety Valve 3.png

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SOURCE = Schlumberger




Earthquake damage to underground facilities




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SOURCE = US Department of Energy



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Assessment of Potential Damage to Underground Facilities from Earthquakes

August 23, 1985


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Related News

BBC News

City of York Council’s anti-fracking terrorism links ‘ludicrous’

December 5, 2016

“We fight fracking with cakes not with violence.”

Anti-fracking campaigners say they are “shocked” to be named on a list of “key risks to York” alongside Islamic terrorists and right-wing activists. They said their inclusion in City of York Council’s anti-radicalisation “Prevent strategy” was “ludicrous”. Frack Free York spokesman Leigh Coghil said there was “absolutely no link” between fracking protests and terror. The council says it monitors “any activities where there is potential for community tension”. Prevent is the government’s counter-radicalisation programme and aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. According to to council documents:


“The Counter Terrorism Local Profile for York and North Yorkshire highlights the key risks to York as evidence of activity relating to Syria, presence of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), Anti Israeli/pro Palestinian activity, Hunt saboteurs, animal rights, anti-fracking and extreme right wing activity.” Steve Mason from Frack Free Ryedale said the group discovered its inclusion after a similar situation was highlighted in East Yorkshire. He said: “To my knowledge I know of no violence by anti-fracking protesters.

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Yorkshire Post

Driffield headmaster sorry for linking anti-fracking to Islamic State in school newsletter

December 2, 2016

Campaigners are demanding answers from an East Yorkshire school for its “appalling” reference to ‘anti-fracking’ in the same breath as Islamic State in a safeguarding newsletter to parents. One member of Frack Free Ryedale said schoolchildren should be educated about their democratic right to peacefully campaign, saying there was no evidence whatsoever to suggest people involved in anti-fracking campaigns have anything to do with extremism.Driffield School’s explanation about the ‘Prevent’ section of the government’s counter terrorism strategy has sparked a furious reaction on social media. The passage in the East Yorkshire secondary school’s newsletter reads: “At present nationally, the greatest resource is devoted to preventing people from joining or supporting the so called Islamic State (IS) group, its affiliates and related groups.
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More locally, the East Riding’s main priorities are far right extremism, animal rights and anti-fracking.” After The Yorkshire Post asked Driffield School for an explanation, a statement was issued jointly by the school and East Riding of Yorkshire Council which read: “In delivering Prevent training to its schools, the council uses a Home Office training script. This includes a reference to ‘environmental terrorism’ and some audiences have asked if this includes anti-fracking. In response to that, we make it clear that we do not regard anti-fracking campaigners as an appropriate group to monitor as part of the Prevent strategy.” At the same time, Diane Pickering, the school’s headteacher, issued an apology, which stated: “Prevent training requires schools and public organisations to be aware of all forms of extremism, but it is not the view of the school that anti-fracking is a form of extreme behaviour and we apologise that the link has been made.”
Driffield School Response.png
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Anti-Fracking Facebook Groups

The following groups are for Fracking related News and Information ONLY


People against Unconventional Mining of Gas and Oil

Fracking Hell (UK)

Frack Off

No Fracking Northern Ireland

Frack Free Wales

Frack Off Scotland

No Fracking Ireland

Frack Off Fife

Frack Free York

The New Frack Free South Yorkshire

Frack Free Selby

East Yorkshire Frack Free

Frack Free Nottinghamshire

Frack Free Somerset

Frack Free North Somerset

Frack Off Llanelli

Frack Free Wrexham

Frack Free Farndon

Frack Free Upton (Chester)


Frack Free Mickle Trafford (Chester)

Frack (UCG) Free Swansea

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