Fracking “Revolution” continues to be a disaster for investors and more

❝ Steve Schlotterbeck, who led drilling company EQT as it expanded to become the nation’s largest producer of natural gas in 2017, arrived at a petrochemical industry conference in Pittsburgh…with a blunt message about shale gas drilling and fracking.

“The shale gas revolution has frankly been an unmitigated disaster for any buy-and-hold investor in the shale gas industry with very few limited exceptions,” Schlotterbeck, who left the helm of EQT last year, continued. “In fact, I’m not aware of another case of a disruptive technological change that has done so much harm to the industry that created the change.”

“While hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits have accrued to hundreds of millions of people, the amount of shareholder value destruction registers in the hundreds of billions of dollars,” he said. “The industry is self-destructive.” [emphasis added]…

❝ “The technological advancements developed by the industry have been the weapon of its own suicide,” Schlotterbeck added, referring to the financial impacts of shale gas drilling on shale gas drillers. “And unfortunately, the industry still has not fully realized how it’s killing itself. Since 2015, there’s been 172 E&P company bankruptcies involving nearly a hundred billion dollars of debt.”

❝ “In a little more than a decade, most of these companies just destroyed a very large percentage of their companies’ value that they had at the beginning of the shale revolution,” he said. “It’s frankly hard to imagine the scope of the value destruction that has occurred. And it continues.”

Our fake president wants to make it easier for this clown show to borrow even more money. When this paper edifice crashes and burns – what do you think will be the effect on the nation’s economy?

Environmental Protection Agency — under Trump/GOP leadership

❝ Trump’s EPA is trying to take our nation back to the 1920s when polluted water from drilling oil was dumped on more than 2,000 acres in west Texas, creating the Texon scar, contaminated land so barren almost a century later that it can be identified from space.

❝ The EPA recently released the draft of a study of options to dispose of “produced water” from drilling for gas and oil that could include irrigation and discharging it into rivers and streams

The water, sometimes 10 times saltier than seawater and laced with chemicals such as ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in antifreeze, traditionally has been injected underground, but that practice has been linked to hundreds of earthquakes in Oklahoma and other oil-producing states in the last decade…

❝ The EPA identified 692 different ingredients used in fracking that can end up in produced water, including acids, gels and sand. The water can also be radioactive. Little research has been done about treating waste from drilling for oil and gas, and there are no federal regulations about the radioactive waste produced by drilling for oil.

This isn’t the cat guarding the canary. This is the cat eating the canary…poisoning all the baby chicks…then, burying the remains in your garden.

French Turn Their Backs on a Century of Oil


I doubt anyone wants drill rigs added to this view

❝ France’s ban on oil drilling could keep 5 billion barrels in the ground. For a country that already imports 99 percent of its oil, France’s decision to end all new oil development and phase out existing projects by 2040 may not seem all that meaningful. The Guardian called it a “largely symbolic gesture.”

But actually, as geoscientist Erik Klemetti noted, France is committing to keeping a massive oil reservoir in the ground. The Paris Basin, a region in northern France, may contain nearly as much underground petroleum as the huge Bakken Formation in North Dakota. Extracting that oil and gas would require extensive fracking.

Klemetti calculates that France could extract 100 years worth of oil for the country by fully exploring the Paris Basin

❝ Instead, France decided to say au revoir to oil and gas altogether.

More power to you. Sun power, wind power, tidal power…and continued good sense guiding the provision of power to your nation.

Trump to erase rule identifying chemicals oil and gas drillers pump into the ground

❝ The Trump administration is rolling back an Obama administration rule requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking…

The Interior Department issued the rule in March 2015, the first major federal regulation of fracking, the controversial drilling technique that has sparked an ongoing boom in natural gas production but raised widespread concerns about possible groundwater contamination and even earthquakes…

❝ Michael Saul, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental group, called the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw the fracking rule “disturbing” and said it “highlights Trump’s desire to leave our beautiful public lands utterly unprotected from oil industry exploitation.”

Backing away from what he called modest rules “is doubly dangerous, given the administration’s reckless plans to ramp up fracking and drilling on public lands across America,” Saul said.

❝ Neal Kirby of the Independent Petroleum Association of America hailed the withdrawal of the Obama rule…

If you do something that makes the greedy bastards at the top of the oil and gas industry happy, you probably just committed a crime against humanity and nature. Nothing that bothers Trump – or any of the chumps who voted for him.

So, um, how did you celebrate Oilfield Prayer Day?

❝ In an announcement we only wish were part of an SNL cold open, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin proclaimed Oct. 13 Oilfield Prayer Day. All you need to celebrate is rest, relaxation, and a solemn request to the heavens to make fracking great again.

❝ The official statewide initiative is the brainchild of Fallin and Reverend Tom Beddow, who runs the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Oil Path Chaplains ministry. “We’re asking churches all over Oklahoma to open their doors, put on a pot of coffee, and pray for the oil field,” Beddow told The Oklahoman. While originally calling upon only Christians, Fallin revised the proclamation Monday to beseech oil-enthusiasts of all faiths.

❝ Last month, Oklahoma saw a 5.8 magnitude earthquake — the state’s largest in recorded history — in an area regularly injected with wastewater from oil and gas companies. That type of wastewater disposal has been linked to earthquakes. With that in mind, Oilfield Prayer Day seems a distasteful addition to a week filled with real holidays such as Indigenous People’s Day and Yom Kippur.

Given the dedication to 14th Century ideology practiced by both state and citizens in Oklahoma, none of this surprises me. There is little of our Constitutional separation of church and state at offer in that benighted state.

Worried about fracking chemicals in your water — wait till you get Frackibacter bacteria!

❝ Study finds a new genus of bacteria found living inside hydraulic fracturing wells – Frackibacter, one of dozens of microbes are forming sustainable ecosystems there…

The new genus is one of the 31 microbial members found living inside two separate fracturing wells, Ohio State University researchers and their colleagues report in…the journal Nature Microbiology.

❝ Even though the wells were hundreds of miles apart and drilled in different kinds of shale formations, the microbial communities inside them were nearly identical, researchers discovered.

Almost all the microbes they found had been seen elsewhere before, and many likely came from the surface ponds that energy companies draw on to fill the wells. But that’s not the case with the newly identified Candidatus Frackibacter, which may be unique to hydraulic fracturing sites, said Kelly Wrighton…

❝ Candidatus Frackibacter prospered alongside the microbes that came from the surface, forming communities in both wells which so far have lasted for nearly a year…

By sampling fluids taken from the two wells over 328 days, the researchers reconstructed the genomes of bacteria and archaea living in the shale. To the researchers’ surprise, both wells — one drilled in Utica shale and the other drilled in Marcellus shale — developed nearly identical microbial communities…

“We thought we might get some of the same types of bacteria, but the level of similarity was so high it was striking. That suggests that whatever’s happening in these ecosystems is more influenced by the fracturing than the inherent differences in the shale,” Wrighton said.

❝ Wrighton and her team are still not 100 percent sure of the microbes’ origins. Some almost undoubtedly came from the ponds that provide water to the wells, she said. But other bacteria and archaea could have been living in the rock before drilling began, Candidatus Frackibacter among them.

Soon to be a series of movies on the SYFY Channel, taking over from Sharknado. Like, um – Fracknado!

I made that up.

The face of fracking in North Dakota


Click to enlarge

In 2006, Eli Reichman began photographing a ranching community in the fracking fields of western North Dakota. For the last decade, he has documented the cultural and social breakdown of an agricultural community being pressured to compromise in order to stay on land originally homesteaded by their ancestors in the early 1900s.


Click to enlarge

Click through to the slide show/article. It ain’t just fracking of course. This is what oil and gas development looks like everywhere, fracking or not. Arable land dies and so does the lifestyle. Roughnecks and drillers move on.

Oklahoma limits oil and gas wells to fight quakes

Facing a six-year barrage of increasingly large earthquakes, Oklahoma regulators are effectively ordering the state’s powerful oil-and-gas industry to substantially cut back the underground disposal of industry wastes that have caused the tremors across the state.

…The state Corporation Commission asked well operators in a Connecticut-size patch of central Oklahoma to reduce by 40 percent the amount of oil and gas wastes they are injecting deep into the earth. The directive covers 411 injection wells in a rough circle that includes Oklahoma City and points northeast…

The directives were phrased as requests, because the Corporation Commission’s legal authority to order cutbacks over such broad areas is unclear. The commission has come close to legal battles over the issue twice this year, and a third challenge would not be a surprise. The commission has pledged to take to court any operator that refuses to carry out the reductions…

The new orders come after three of the largest quakes in the state’s history, 4.7, 4.8 and 5.1-magnitude shocks that rocked a major oil field this year.

In 2010, when the tremors began, Oklahoma recorded three earthquakes at or above a magnitude of 3. Last year, it had 907. So far in 2016, it has had nearly 160.

Although critics contend that earthquakes have caused millions of dollars of damage, Oklahoma’s political leaders have long been reluctant to impose restrictions on an industry that dominates the state’s economy. Until last spring, Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican, maintained that the cause of the tremors was unclear, and the state Legislature refused to consider legislation addressing the issue

Seismologists have long warned that the rise in the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma could presage a temblor that could cause extensive damage.

Corrupt politics still tend to be described in terms avoiding depicting the crooks and politicians involved as the source of corruption. Somehow, they create a milieu that mysteriously condemns a whole state to environmental disaster, an economic swamp wholly dependent on the profit system of a monoculture. Hogwash.

BTW, here’s another “feel sorry for the bastards who aren’t making millions this week” article from Bloomberg. We’re supposed to feel sorry for politicians who live in one of the posh communities now affected by the quakes. They bought those homes with their share of criminal profits. They condemned the state of Oklahoma to a monocultural economy — part of the swath of oil fiefdoms stretching from Louisiana to New Mexico.

They should be forced to take up pick and shovel and do the grunt work of sealing the wastewater wells. Do a little honest work for a change.

Shale frackers running out of tricks to survive


Ain’t anything moving here

In 2015, the fracking outfits that dot America’s oil-rich plains threw everything they had at $50-a-barrel crude. To cope with the 50 per cent price plunge, they laid off thousands of roughnecks, focused their rigs on the biggest gushers only and used cutting-edge technology to squeeze all the oil they could out of every well.

Those efforts, to the surprise of many observers, largely succeeded. As of this month, U.S. oil output remained within four per cent of a 43-year high.

The problem? Oil’s no longer at $50. It now trades near $35.

For an industry that already was pushing its cost-cutting efforts to the limits, the new declines are a devastating blow. These drillers are “not set up to survive oil in the $30s,” said R.T. Dukes, a senior upstream analyst for Wood Mackenzie Ltd…

The Energy Information Administration now predicts that companies operating in U.S. shale formations will cut production by a record 570,000 barrels a day in 2016. That’s precisely the kind of capitulation that OPEC is seeking as it floods the world with oil, depressing prices and pressuring the world’s high-cost producers. It’s a high-risk strategy, one whose success will ultimately hinge on whether shale drillers drop out before the financial pain within OPEC nations themselves becomes too great…

❝“You are going to see a pickup in bankruptcy filings, a pickup in distressed asset sales and a pickup in distressed debt exchanges,” said Jeff Jones, managing director at Blackhill Partners, a Dallas-based investment banking firm. “And $35 oil will clearly accelerate the distress…”

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving crowd.

A return to cheaper oil was thought to be disastrous for shale, but companies figured out how to increase productivity and lower costs.

Producers slashed spending, idling more than 60 per cent of the rigs in the U.S. They drilled and fracked faster, meaning fewer rigs and workers could make the same number of wells. They focused on their best areas and used more sand and water in the fracking process so each well gushed with more crude. By April, when the rig count had fallen in half, output was still rising.

All that effort did was push prices lower and expectations for a price recovery further out into the future. Now shale companies face a grim future, having played most of their best cards…

Extractive industries have one supremely disastrous feature. They consider the cost of start-up [or re-starting] “too expensive”. So, tapering, slowing down rates of extraction is considered a sin in the religion of profiteering. Not just oil. Coal, iron ore, copper, aluminum…all the mined commodities are in similar trouble.

And, as is traditional, the executives who acted just like their predecessors are now getting the same result. Starting with losing their jobs.

Couldn’t happen to a more deserving crowd.

More studies, same result — Fracking ain’t likely to harm groundwater


But, the rest of it?

One of the stock charges used by those who campaign to ban hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas drilling is that it endangers groundwater supplies. And yet the pile of studies largely refuting this fear-mongering keeps growing by the year.

In the past month alone, two major studies — one by Yale University and the other by Colorado State University — reached similar conclusions about two different centers of drilling, the first in northeastern Pennsylvania and the second in northeastern Colorado, mainly in Weld County.

The Yale-led study — the largest of its kind, according to a university press release — found “no evidence that trace contamination of organic compounds in drinking water wells near the Marcellus Shale” resulted from underground migration of the chemicals.

When the researchers did find “low levels of organic compounds” near a natural gas well, it was caused by “surface releases” — in other words, spills and accidents above ground that can be readily addressed and treated.

And the study found no dangerous level of any compound, based on federal or state exposure standards.

The CSU study also found “no evidence of water-based contaminants seeping into drinking water,” the university said. And while researchers detected non-toxic methane seepage in 2 percent of the wells, they concluded that it likely stemmed from “compromised well casings.”

“With regard to the really bad stuff — the bariums, chromiums and other soluble contaminants that people have been worried about getting into their water — [Professor Ken] Carlson’s team didn’t find any,” CSU added.

Carlson added that “well casing requirements and monitoring have tightened up significantly since the 2009 regulations,” so methane seepage is fated to become even rarer as the years pass.

I’d be the last to give drillers a pass for living up to safety and health standards in oil and gas fields. I’ve worked in the industry and nothing much more than a fast buck is in the mind of drilling companies. They need regulating and the regulations need enforcement. But, Luddite blather isn’t going to change real problems – while being caught in mythical fears puts folks who care in the same class as Tea Party bigots.

I’d rather see environment activists stick to real science and fight a principled, educated fight.