Waterless Fracking Moves Into The Market, With Its Own Set Of Safety Issues

Dry-fracking is expected to make its way to California communities soon if the oil industry has its way.
By @TrishaMarczakMP |
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    As debate rages on over the health impacts associated with petroleum companies’ practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the industry is coming up with a new but equally controversial technique to get at oil and natural gas deposits thousands of feet below the surface of the earth.

    Californians are bracing for a new form of fracking that uses pressurized gas to break up formations where oil is hidden instead of the usual combination of water, silica sand and chemicals.

    It’s called dry-fracking, and it’s expected to make its way to California communities soon if the oil industry has its way.

    California is home to the Monterey shale, a geologic formation that stretches from northern California to the Los Angeles area. According to the U.S. Energy Department, the formation holds 15 billion barrels of untapped oil, accounting for more than is held in North Dakota’s Bakken oil region.

    While the oil industry has long eyed the formation as a source of big bucks, it has been met with opposition from the agricultural community, vineyard owners included, as each fracking well uses roughly 4 million gallons of water.

    This new form of dry-fracking takes that argument off the table, but it also brings along a new set of concerns for those working to maintain the land of the Monterey shale region.

    “(What) really scares me, first of all about the safety during production because somebody could light a cigarette and there you go, the whole town blows up,” Patricia Lerman, of the local advocacy group Aromas Cares For Our Environment, told Central Coast News, a Fox affiliate station.

    That’s not the only argument against dry-fracking. The Center for Biological Diversity, based in San Francisco, has also come out swinging against the emergence of the technique, claiming it’s too early to know what the impacts could be if used in California.

    Dry-fracking is already being practiced by at least two Texas-based companies, according to Central Coast News.

    Gasfrac Energy Services Inc., a company based in Calgary, Alberta, has an office in Houston and touts the new form of fracking as one the company operates in a safe and reliable manner. According to the company’s website, Gasfrac patented its own waterless “Liquid Petroleum Gas” gel, which it claims “yields higher reservoir production while eliminating concerns over water use in fracturing.”

    “While GASFRAC’s process inherently has different risks from conventional fracture stimulation — our strong safety focus means we’ve improved upon, and even advanced, certain safety features and protocols, allowing for increased safety in oilfield operations,” Gasfrac’s website says.

    There’s no indication at this point that Gasfrac is planning on moving into California’s Monterey shale formation, but residents and environmental organizations are moving ahead now to warn that its self-bestowed reputation as an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional fracking might not be what it’s cracked up to be.

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    • Joel Wischkaemper

      You know.. this business makes nuclear power look like cheese cake.

    • Joel Wischkaemper

      This is sad. Anyone interested in why we should not be doing this as things now stand, should google … fracking… or …. dangers of fracking.

      Well casing failure in the United States is staggering. I saw a figure that suggested 63% of the well casings that are formed move to failure, and when you have contaminated that aquifer, you drink a whole lot of things that are not water. A classical case of this abuse can be found in the Middland-Odessa area where, and for years now, the solution was to drink water heavenly polluted with gypsum.

      There is another point. I don’t think anyone has documented where the aquifers actually are. They find them beneath city water wells, and use them, but they have no idea where that aquifer extends to, or how it is related to other, and deeper, or other and more shallow, fluids, or gas deposits.

      • CountryBoy

        Actually, the underground aquifers in Texas have already been mapped as to their depth and width and length and the fracking the occurs here is well below that depth… In Texas there are salt water aquifers below the fresh water aquifers and the fracking is occurring below that….

        Also, the danger does not lye in fracking…. but in all drilling (including water well drilling)…. it is how the well heads and piping are sealed from the surface down to past the aquifer that counts….. if it is not done right, there will be leaks…. most of the problems have been traced back to the concrete that was being poured that did not meet specifications….that is the (Well casing failure) that you are talking about….

        • Joel Wischkaemper

          69% failure may be the industry standard, and above all other things, the water purity needs to be preserved. Fracking has to come up to 100% success, or it needs to be controlled very carefully by the Federal Government to insure 100% success. This just isn’t a place where we …sorta.. do it right.

          We do not need all the gas under the soil in the United States at this point, and the problem with fracking.. even waterless.. is that we could see a place were producers are fracking when they should be leaving it alone in order to bring a well in, and pay for the rig you are fracking with.

          Look at the geology of anyplace in this country, and if you inject water, it seems to provide lubricity to geological faults. Quite a few unexplained earth quakes have occurred in areas where fracking, and probably with water, has been in process. We will wind up with well casings going down thousands of feet and being subjected to earthquakes. That casing isn’t going to last, and in places where fracking has occurred, the community won’t be able to continue if their water is polluted. It appears that could happen in a rather short period of time in terms of any “Middle America” Community’s life span.

          New York State banned fracking in its state. If the Federal Government does not do on site control of fracking, I think I want it stopped.

          There is more. I still think it is a hazard we should not face at this point, and maybe never. I want electricity generated by pollution free thorium reactors which are considered far, far safer than any other form of electrical generation techniques. We can easily move to trains powered by pollution free electricity. Electrical fire places would be far less expensive than burning wood or coal, and when we have finished design processes on a Thorium Salt Reactor, it will be worth a fortune in the world market. I don’t have a means to investigate such an idea, but I also want the Oil and Gas industry out of the business of controlling the development of the Thorium Salt Reactor.

          I still want the fracking stopped. I want the water protected.

    • ©Dave ℗ Rickmers®

      Though not stated, I’m pretty sure there are subterranean explosions (“exothermic reactions”, they call them) involved. California’s most populous areas are on earthquake faults.

      • Joel Wischkaemper

        Now THAT could be a trip they won’t ever forget. And just think of what Mexico will say when all their citizens are killed.

    • CharliePeters

      BP and Shell GMO fuel in your water?

      GOOGLE search for ethanol cancer