Posts tagged ‘Natural gas’

November 4, 2011

Fracking operations in Blackpool lined to recent earthquakes – the report finds

by Jasmina Nikoloska

Controversial ‘fracking’ technique linked to resent earthquakes near Blackpool, where UK Company Cuadrilla Resources is working on shale gas extraction.

To access shale gas, drilling must be downwards into the gas-bearing rock, ten thousand feet below the surface, and then horizontally for thousands of feet more when a mixture of water, chemicals and sand is plumed to fracture the rock, under high pressure.

The water opens up cracks in the rock, and the sand grains lodge in them and keep them open which creates space for the gas to travel up and be collected at the surface.

According to the report, commissioned by Cuadrilla, it is “highly probable” that shale gas test drilling triggered earthquakes, one of magnitude 2.3 hit the Fylde coast on 1 April, followed by a second of magnitude 1.4 on 27 May.

Following protests against shale gas drilling Cuadrilla suspended  its operations in June and commissioned a report.

But the report, also said the quakes were due to an “unusual combination of geology at the well site” and conditions which caused the minor earthquakes were “unlikely to occur again”.

Cuadrilla’s chief executive officer Mark Millerchief said for BBC news: “There are procedures we can put in place to practise earthquake prevention”.

Some environmentalists are not conversed in the safety of fracking and they suspect that potentially carcinogenic chemicals could escape during the process and contaminate drinking water sources. Therefore they are they are calling for a moratorium on fracking.

Cuadrilla said groundwater in Lancashire was protected by layers of rock between the aquifers which are up to 300m deep.

In the Statement Charles Hendry, Energy Minister said: “We are committed to the highest standards of safety and environmental protection in all UK oil and gas activities, and we will look at Cuadrilla’s report carefully with the assistance of our independent experts and regulators, before deciding whether hydraulic fracturing operations should resume. This is a potentially important addition to our energy resources, but its development must be done in a way that carries public confidence.”

The Government believes that the potential for unconventional gas is worth exploring as additional energy security and economic benefits; although it’s commercial viability at this stage is still unknown.

In September Cuadrilla announced this week that its tests showed there could be as much as 5.6 trillion cubic metres (200tn cubic ft) of gas in the Bowland shale under  Lancashire .

But according to Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace fracking is a “distraction from the real challenges” and the real energy solutions would be found in using renewable sources, the BBC news published on 02 November.

Cuadrilla’s report can be found on the Cuadrilla website [External link]:

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March 3, 2011

Shale gas drilling a controversial energy alternative

by Jasmina Nikoloska

In my article Could shale gas become a new energy source for Britain’s energy needs? I’ am writing about UK plans to investigate and introducing shale gas drilling techniques, in a field near Blackpool in Lancashire.

Shale gas is nothing uncommon for the energy industry; it is the actual methodology and techniques for its extraction and use that are new. A US engineer, George Mitchell, developed the current technique, known as “hydraulic fracturing”.
To access shale gas, drilling must be downwards into the gas-bearing rock more than 3 kilometres below the surface, and then horizontally for thousands of metres more with a mixture of water, chemicals and sand being pumped in under high pressure to fracture the rock.

The water opens up cracks in the rock in which the sand grains then lodge, keeping them open and creating space for the gas to travel up and be collected at the surface.

While shale gas extraction in Britain is still in developing stage, the technique has already revolutionised US energy market.
But, environmental concerns have been raised in US related to several pollution incidents and potential contamination of water with methane, all of which were supposedly caused by shale gas drilling.

Also the quantities of water that would be needed during the process can’t be ignored.

The Tyndall Centre, a climate change research body, estimates about 2,500-3,000 horizontal wells spread over some 140-400 square kilometres would need to be drilled using some 27 to 113m tonnes of water in order to sustain production levels equivalent to 10% of UK gas consumption.

Mark Miller, chief executive at Cuadrilla Resources, the company responsible for shale drilling in UK, told MPs at the select committee hearing into shale gas that 99.8% of this is pure water bought from local supplier United Utilities. The rest is made up of two chemicals: a fluid to reduce friction inside the pipe and an unspecified additive, the Guardian wrote on Tuesday 1 March.

Miller also confirmed that only about a third of the water mix is recovered during the initial period, with at least half remaining underground and he believes that the solid rock in top of the aquifer would prevent the water mix contaminating it.

On top of it, the Guardian reveal that the results of the first attempt to extract shale gas in the UK using a controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, will be kept secret for four years.

It was confirmed by the Government that according to the oil and gas practise it is not unusual for the industry to keep some information confidential for a period, in these case till 2015.

Energy companies are very much interested in exploring Europe’s potential for shale gas, because any kind of gas is a relatively carbon-friendly alternative to oil, and it could significantly affect the energy market.

 

Written by: Jasmina Nikoloska