SPE Online Education
First-Ever Environmental Characterization of Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Oil and Gas Production
Recorded On: 03/08/2018
The well completion process of high volume hydraulic fracturing has become a touchstone for opposition to the development of oil and gas resources from shale source rocks. Although the development of shale gas and oil has brought substantial economic, geopolitical, and climate change benefits to the United States, hydraulic fracturing has displaced global climate change as the most controversial environmental policy issue. As other countries evaluate development of shale oil and gas, these same environmental concerns are available on the internet and media sources. Without data, the concerns become a substantial hindrance to acceptance of shale gas development.
This study presents the first-ever peer-reviewed study that quantifies the effects of two specific high-volume hydraulic fracturing jobs to 14 different environmental resource categories. The objective was to provide factual information supported by a high-quality dataset to guide policy making. None of the measurements detected a change due to hydraulic fracturing, including microseismic effects, ground motion and induced seismicity, water quality, methane migration, community health, well integrity, fracture containment to the target zone, and others.
The hydraulic fracturing occurred in the center of Los Angeles, California, at the largest urban oil field in the US. The level of community and regional concern, the breadth of the study, and many of the results are applicable to other shale oil and gas areas worldwide. The results provide the first dataset that addresses the range of concerns directly, and finds no adverse effects to any of the environmental resource categories. The results have subsequently been used at state and national levels in the United States to further the understanding of these issues.
Dr. Daniel Tormey
Energy, Water, and Land Management Expert
Dr. Tormey is an expert in energy, water, and land management, and he conducts environmental reviews for both government and industry. He works with the environmental aspects of all types of energy development, with an emphasis on oil and gas, including hydraulic fracturing and produced water management, pipelines, LNG terminals, refineries and retail facilities. He has a Ph.D. in Geology and Geochemistry from MIT, and a B.S. in Civil Engineering and Geology from Stanford. He is President of Catalyst Environmental Solutions. He was named by the National Academy of Sciences to the Science Advisory Board for Giant Sequoia National Monument; is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE); is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Geoscientist Specialist Group; is on the review committee on behalf of IUCN for the UNESCO World Heritage Site List; is volcanologist for Cruz del Sur, an emergency response and contingency planning organization in Chile; was an Executive in Residence at California Polytechnic University San Luis Obispo; is a Professional Geologist in California; and is a Fellow of The Explorers Club. He has worked throughout the USA, Australia, Indonesia, Italy, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Senegal, South Africa, Armenia and the Republic of Georgia.
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