fracking

Environment
11:50 am
Mon February 20, 2012

Recent Report Adds Fuel to Fracking Debate

This image produced by the Departme nt of Energy explains the hydraulic fracturing process.
Image courtesy fossil.energy.gov

A newly-released report on fracking – the practice of pumping hydraulic fracturing fluid into wells to break up and extract oil shale and natural gas deposits – has caused something of a stir in Texas.

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Austin
8:54 am
Fri February 17, 2012

Top Morning Stories 2/17/12: Fracking and Groundwater, $90 Million More for F1 Track

An image from the UT Energy Institute's report on fracking.
Image courtesy Chesapeake Energy

UT Study Says Fracking Doesn’t Directly Contaminate Groundwater

A new report by the University of Texas at Austin released this week says there’s no direct link between groundwater contamination and hydraulic fracturing – a controversial method of extracting natural gas and oil from shale formations.

The research was done by UT's Energy Institute. The report’s authors say contamination is often the result of above ground spills or mishandling of wasterwater, but not caused directly by fracking. 

Fracking involves blasting water, mixed with sand and chemicals, underground to fracture rock and improve the flow of natural gas and oil. The practice is used at the North Texas Barnett Shale.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is also studying the environmental effects fracking may have on groundwater. Its preliminary results differ from the UT study.

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energy
3:11 pm
Fri November 18, 2011

Eagle Ford Shale Lures Halliburton To San Antonio

Photo by Anne Lise Norheim, Halliburton http://www.flickr.com/photos/olfnorge/

Natural gas extraction on the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas has developed to the point that the oil field services company Halliburton has decided to build a $50 million operations base in San Antonio.

The Houston-based company announced yesterday that it is looking to hire 1,500 people to staff the center. Annual salaries will average $70,000, the Houston Chronicle reports.

When Halliburton reported its quarterly earnings last month, it announced record breaking profits at its North American operations: more than $1 billion. Much of that was on the back of the booming natural gas industry, which has taken off with technological advances in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” – a practice that allows access to natural gas stored in shale rock 5,000 feet underground.

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Environment
12:16 pm
Mon November 7, 2011

Oklahoma Earthquake Recharges Fracking Debate

This oil and gas rig is located in the Eagle Ford Shale deposit in DeWitt County, Texas.
Photo by Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

An earthquake hit outside of Oklahoma City on Saturday night. The magnitude 5.6 quake was the strongest in Oklahoma history. The US Geological Survey has released an initial report on the quake, but has not yet given an official cause.

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Environment
10:16 am
Thu October 20, 2011

Earthquake In South Texas: Fracking Fluid at Fault?

An oil & gas drilling rig is drilling a well for Pioneer Natural Resources in the Eagle Ford Shale formation in DeWitt County. The epicenter of today's earthquake was in Karnes County.
Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

A 4.8 magnitude earthquake struck an area of South Texas today that is a center point for natural gas and oil production in the Eagle Ford Shale. The quake’s epicenter was here in the unincorporated community of Campbellton in Atascosa County near Karnes County. You can see numerous wells in the county in this map from the Texas Railroad Commission. (Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly placed the epicenter in Karnes County.)

A University of Texas seismologist says hydraulic fracturing itself does not cause earthquakes. But he says earthquakes have been associated with the disposal of fracking fluids.

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Business
3:44 pm
Mon October 17, 2011

Halliburton Earnings Reflect Gas Drilling Boom

Halliburton's offices in Houston
Photo by WhisperToMe http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:WhisperToMe

In an indication of how aggressively energy companies are pursuing underground natural gas, Halliburton is reporting a record breaking quarter, largely based on growth in its North American operations.  

For the first time ever, Halliburton’s operating income in North America exceeded $1 billion. The company said that was mainly because of strong activity in shale rock formations like the Eagle Ford in South Texas and the Bakken region in North Dakota and Montana. Halliburton also cited strong activity in the Permian Basin of West Texas.

North America has been experiencing an onshore drilling boom, as companies race to exploit hydraulic fracturing technology, commonly referred to as “fracking”. It involves pumping large amounts of liquid thousands of feet underground to fracture shale rock formations and release natural gas or oil.

Oil field service companies like Halliburton are “like the people that sold the picks and shovels during the gold rush in California,” Houston-based investment banker Allen Brooks told Bloomberg News in June.

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Energy
1:08 pm
Thu August 11, 2011

Group of Scientists Criticizes Federal Fracking Panel

Illustration courtesy of Texas Tribune

A Department of Energy subcommittee is recommending steps for restoring  public trust in the natural gas extraction process known as hyrdaulic fracturing or "fracking," an important part of the Obama Administration's energy policy.

Over the last few years, public concern over the process has grown with the release of documentaries like Gasland and reports of possible connections between fracking and contaminated ground water. You can watch the trailer to Gasland here to get a sense of the film's story arc and tone:

Yesterday, a group of 28 scientists representing 22 universities sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, "expressing concern over the lack of impartiality on the Natural Gas Subcommittee."  The group criticized what they called "advocacy based science" and pointed out that six of the seven members of the subcommittee "have current financial ties to the natural gas and oil industry."

The group called for greater impartiality and asked that "at a minimum" subcommittee chairman John Deutch, an MIT professor and former CIA director,  leave the subcommittee and be replaced by "a person with no financial ties to the natural gas and oil industry."

energy
8:58 am
Wed August 3, 2011

Natural Gas Extraction Creates A Boom For Sand

At the top of the bluffs, this backhoe shovels the sand that's been crushed and washed onto a conveyor belt that runs the sand through a drier before it's loaded into a rail car.
Kathleen Masterson for NPR

Originally published on Wed August 3, 2011 12:02 pm

The rise of fracking as a method for extracting natural gas from shale rock has triggered demand for a key ingredient in the process: silica sand. In parts of the upper Midwest, there's been a rush to mine this increasingly valuable product.

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Environment
5:10 pm
Thu July 28, 2011

EPA’s Proposed Air Quality Rules Could Affect Texas Fracking

Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

The Environmental Protection Agency proposed new air pollution rules for oil and gas production today. The regulations are the first national standards for emissions from hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, a controversial practice used to extract natural gas in the Barnet Shale and in South Texas, among other places.

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Environment
11:44 am
Mon July 18, 2011

UT and MIT Forge Partnership To Study Risky Energy Exploration

Researchers say without last year's oil leak disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, industry may have been less urgent to develop guiding principles for risky energy exploration.
Photo by EPI2oh http://www.flickr.com/photos/epi2oh/

To feed its energy demands, the United States is looking for energy in increasingly far-flung environments such as: Ultra-deep offshore oil wells, the Arctic, shale rock formations 20,000 feet underground. The risks involved are often greater, but the industry lacks a set of “best practices” for these new frontiers of energy exploration.

That's a need that researchers at the University of Texas and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hope to fill. Scientists at both colleges are teaming up to create some guidelines for industry. Their focus would range from guiding principles to government policies to the engineering needs required to reduce environmental impact.

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Business
11:48 am
Mon June 27, 2011

Report: Federal Officials Fear Fracking Industry Bubble

An oil & gas drilling rig is drilling a well for Pioneer Natural Resources in the Eagle Ford Shale formation near Yorktown.
Photo by Eddie Seal, Texas Tribune

President Obama has praised the potential of American natural gas as “enormous," saying exploration for the energy source was something both Democrats and Republicans could support.

But internal documents from the Energy Information Agency (EIA), obtained by the New York Times, indicate some administration officials fear the natural gas industry is experiencing an investment bubble that “may be set up for failure.”

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Environment
1:55 pm
Thu June 23, 2011

EPA To Conduct Fracking Study in Texas

The EPA will study water quality around the Barnett Shale starting this summer.
Graphic courtesy the EPA

The North Texas Barnett Shale has been added to an Environmental Protection Agency study. The congressionally mandated report will look into potential affects of hydraulic fracturing on water resources.

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Environment
11:51 am
Mon June 13, 2011

Texas Drought Threatens Fracking Boom For South Texas Towns

Texas is in the midst of the third worst drought on record, which is a problem for water-intensive industries like hydraulic fracturing.
Photo by dasroofless http://www.flickr.com/photos/roofless/

The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to remove oil and gas from beneath shale rock has faced environmental criticism for generating loud noise, stamping a foot print in the wilderness, and pumping large amounts of undisclosed chemicals deep into the earth. Now the practice being used to unlock vast reserves of domestic energy is coming under fire for another reason: the amount of water it uses.

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Environment
10:55 am
Mon May 16, 2011

Senate Leader Says He Was “Not Even Aware” Of Fracking Bill

State Sen. Troy Fraser
Photo by Bob Daemmrich, Texas Tribune

A bill that would require natural gas drillers to disclose the mix of chemicals they use in a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing has apparently gone under the radar of the state senator in charge of overseeing the industry.

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Environment
2:10 pm
Mon May 9, 2011

UT Team To Probe Environmental Consequences Of "Fracking"

Photo by Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

A team of researchers from the University of Texas at Austin will investigate the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing or "fracking", a process used to extract natural gas from shale rock. Fracking has become a widespread practice in the United States and Texas for extracting vast reserves of domestic energy, but it is also the subject of fierce criticism from environmentalists who say it pollutes ground water and air.

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