SHALE OIL, FRACKING, AND….INDUCED EARTHQUAKESMay 29, 2012
Most of you have probably heard about the exciting "discovery" of the vast shale oil fields in Canada, western North Dakota, north western South Dakota, and north-eastern Wyoming and south-eastern Montana. Indeed, we've been treated to something of a political controversy between the Republithugs and the Dummycrooks over President Obama's flipflops on the oil pipeline from Canada to the British Petroleum oil-soaked Gulf of Mexico. (Now, for those of you wanting a little background on BP and its wonderful record, check out Greg Palast's Vulture's Picnic). The impression created in some people's minds I am sure is that these fields "just came to light."
Well, before we get into the meat of this blog, let me dissuade anyone that may have that impression from adhering to it. Having grown up in South Dakota, I well remember the first "Earth Day" back in 1973 or 74 (I forget which), in which we were(at least in South Dakota) reminded once again of the vast amounts of oil laying under the ground (and in many cases right on top of it), in the northwestern "butte" country region of the state just to the north of the Black Hills. (an area that, if you didn't know better, might look like parts of New Mexico). A short journey north from the forests and mountains around Spearfish through Belle Fourche will put you in what can only be described as a desert of barren buttes and hills, once a rich uranium mining area(the uranium is still there, just not profitable to mine).This field extends into western North Dakota (where most of the field lies), and is currently the site of an oil boom(just ask the people in Dickinson, North Dakota).
Well now, with all this in mind, I thought this article over at Boiling Frog was worth bringing to your attention (thanks to Mr. V.T. for bringing it to my attention):
The article, as you'll note, is by William Engdahl, a man whose research I respect. The article gets it correct, as the fracking technology has been around for a long time. Indeed, once again, I remember being told about it in school in reference to all that shale oil under the western Dakotas. And the chief concern, back then, as we were listening to our teachers explain the fracking process, was its environmental impact. You can imagine, then, my reaction to Engdahl's research disclosing the fact that the Hallburton loophole essentially exempts these companies from oversight. Don't get me wrong, I'm no rabid environmentalist; I do think these fields should be developed. But I am not a corporatist either, and we must have regard for the environment... I cannot imagine my beloved western South Dakota, with its mountains, buttes, and vast plains, its bison, antelope, lions, bears, eagles, undergoing yet another BP Gulf Oil spill type of event.
But what really leaped out at my attention was this:
"Not only possible poisoning of the fresh water underground aquifers, hydraulic fracking is done with such force that it has been also known to cause earthquakes. In the UK, Cuadrilla was doing shale gas drilling in Lancashire. They suspended their shale gas test drilling in June 2011, following two earthquakes—one tremor of magnitude 2.3 hit the Fylde coast on 1 April, followed by a second of magnitude 1.4 on 27 May.  A UK Government study of the earthquakes, released this April concluded that the fracking drilling operations had caused the quakes. Earthquake activity in fracking regions across the US have also been reported."
Such a simple technique...and earthquakes are the result... just enough pressure, in a fault zone, and....
Well, for me, the implications seem to be worth entertaining, in yet another example of wild speculation. Members of my website will know that I have speculated in some "white papers" there about the possible technologies of earthquake production, technologies certainly more advanced than fracking. But it is interesting - and disturbing - to contemplate that with this technique, energy companies can now begin to compile their own private database of coordinating their fracking activities to earthquakes... and yet another technology could be honed. Can we all say breakaway civilization?
In any case, Engdahl gets it correct at the end of his article. These vast fields of shale oil really give lie to the directed history meme of the elite of Peak Oil and Peak civilization. The only question is, are we going to allow environmentally irresponsible companies such latitude?
See you on the flip side.