‘Fracking’, wastewater and seismic activity: the chain reaction that worries environmentalists and the US oil industry

Share your love

During the last decade, the technique of ‘fracking’ (hydraulic fracturing) to obtain oil and natural gas has gained great popularity in the US thanks to its relatively low cost and its great exploitation potential compared to other extraction methods traditional. However, ‘fracking’ is not without environmental problems, which have aroused the concern of environmentalists, the Government and the oil industry itself, especially in these times of economic recovery when the demand for fossil fuels is increasing rapidly.

In a Article Published by Oil.eu on June 27, the expert on the subject Irina Slav analyzed the relationship between ‘fracking’, the wastewater it generates and seismic events, emphasizing the profitability of this technique for certain industrial sectors that are not necessarily linked to the oil tanker, as well as in the government response to the current situation.

First of all, it is necessary to understand what ‘fracking’ consists of. It is a technique that drills the subsoil with the aim of generating one or more high permeability channels through an injection of high pressure water that overcomes the resistance of the rock and opens a controlled fracture at the bottom of the well. This pressurized water is mixed with some proppant material in order to widen the existing fractures in the rocky substrate that encloses the gas or oil and thus favor their exit towards the surface.

According According to the US Geological Survey, the amount of water used during this process can reach up to 60 million liters for each well. Then it is necessary to get rid of all that residual water, so it is dumped into underground injection wells that, according to environmentalists, pollute the aquifers.

Read Also   An Indonesian island is engulfed in ash after the eruption of the Semeru volcano, which left dozens of victims (PHOTOS)

However, there is another problem linked to this practice. The more water is injected underground, the more likely seismic events become, because the millions and millions of liters of the liquid are capable of changing pressures in the rock formation, triggering more seismic activity.

In fact, independent energy research and business intelligence company Rystad Energy warned on June 10 in a report that earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 2.0 had quadrupled since 2017 in several oil-producing regions and predicted that seismic activity will increase further this year if the oil and gas industry of The US continues to extract hydrocarbons in this way.

And it is that in 2020, a year marked by the covid-19 pandemic and the low demand for fossil fuels, there were 14 earthquakes with a magnitude greater than 3.5 in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and New Mexico (key states of oil production through hydraulic fracturing), a figure much higher than the six events recorded in both 2019 and 2018.

So far in 2021, there have already been 11 earthquakes in these territories and a rapid increase in ‘fracking’ and the consequent production of wastewater is being observed, which when injected into the subsoil would cause even more seismic activity.

Water recycling: the solution?

This is where other types of companies have seen a business opportunity: recycling and reuse of wastewater.

On June 24, a local newspaper reported that the water recycling and reuse company Breakwater Midstream was expanding its Big Spring recycling system in Texas Martin County and planned to build two new water recycling facilities in addition to the ten already operating in the area.

Read Also   They blame femicide on a Mexican woman who pretended to be a doctor and caused the death of a patient by performing an aesthetic procedure

According to Jason Jennaro, the CEO of the company, the increase in seismic activity in the region is one reason for the growing demand for wastewater treatment facilities.

“Wastewater recycling provides operators with an environmentally sustainable alternative to sending all their wastewater to landfills located within known seismic pools,” Jennaro said.

Government response

On the other hand, the Government is also addressing this situation. Recently, Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone presented a bill that could reclassify wastewater from ‘fracking’ as hazardous waste. This has generated intense controversy, as companies would be forced to dispose of wastewater in Class I disposal wells (whose stocks nationwide are less than 300) instead of as they do now, in Class I wells. II, whose number is much higher and exceeds 200,000. In a report On June 11, the Baker Institute at Rice University listed the political and economic disadvantages that this law would bring, including a dramatic increase in the price of oil and conflicts between the energy-producing states and the federal government.

Even so, the advantages from an ecological and environmental point of view would be undeniable, since oil producing companies would have no choice but to recycle and reuse water, thus avoiding possible contamination of aquifers and severe seismic events.

Article Source

Share your love