Posts tagged "Energy In Depth Ohio"
Injecting Some Facts, History into the Conversation over Seismicity
Wednesday, January 4th, 2012 | 2 Comments
For nearly 40 years now, the state of Ohio has relied upon federally regulated underground injection wells as a safe and effective means for disposing of wastewater deep underground. Injection wells have been used in the United States since the early 1930s, and around the world dating all the way back to 300 A.D., according to EPA.
But if your only source of information on this issue is what you’ve read in the papers or seen on the news the past couple days, this is probably the first time you’re hearing this. You might even think that hydraulic fracturing is somehow to blame, notwithstanding statement after statement from federal scientists indicating it did not play, and physically could not have played, a role in the low-intensity seismic event that was felt in the Mahoning Valley over the holidays.
The two of us have a combined 65 years’ worth of experience when it comes to the siting, construction, permitting, use and policy implications of underground injection wells. Both of us were around in the ancient days of the 1980s when Ohio was first granted primacy by EPA to administer on its behalf what’s called the Underground Injection Control (UIC) program – a designation that was never given to our neighbors in Pennsylvania.
And we were also around in 1983, when state Rep. Robert E. Hagan of Lake County introduced House Bill 501, which called for a moratorium on all oil and gas activity in Ohio until the Division of Oil and Gas could certify that a sufficient number of underground injection wells existed to handle all produced brine. Thankfully, there were, and the bill was signed into law by Democratic governor Dick Celeste in 1985. Ever since, injection wells have been the law of the land in Ohio – not just a disposal option for producers, but one that is mandated under law.
Nearly 30 years removed from the passage of HB 501, Ohio today is home to nearly 180 “Class II” injection wells, which covers all liquid-based wastes associated with oil and natural gas development. Sounds like a lot – until you consider that more than 144,000 Class II wells are currently in operation in America, accepting more than two billion gallons of brine for permanent disposal each day. In 2011, Ohio accepted an estimated 1.03 million gallons a day – or about five-hundredths of one percent of the nation’s total.
Given the current media coverage of the seismic events in Youngstown, an understanding of the history and process of utilizing injection wells as a disposal method is imperative. While no clear linkage has been established connecting these injection wells with the seismic events themselves, it is important to recognize this conversation is limited to a single injection well in the Mahoning Valley, and not the centuries-old method of waste disposal itself – or the hundreds of other wells permitted and in operation all across the state.
Injection of produced fluids deep underground has proven to be safe and highly-effective means of protecting the environment, while generating much-needed revenue for the state of Ohio. Unfortunately, some of the folks speaking with the loudest voices right now in opposition to these wells appear to be among the folks with the least awareness of the decades-long history associated with the UIC program.
Of course, both of us respect the decision by Governor Kasich and ODNR to temporary halt injections at the Youngstown UIC well until more facts come to light. Our industry is committed to ensuring this matter is resolved in the proper manner, with facts – and not hyperbole – informing any decisions that will be made in the future.
What’s unfortunate is that some folks are attempting to use these events as a justification for stopping oil and natural gas development in Ohio – kind of like trying to argue that the auto industry should be shut down just because a scrap tire dump caught fire somewhere. Hopefully, though, the facts will prevail and a reasonable course of action will be pursued. Ohioans deserve nothing less, and we ask for nothing more.
Tags: Artex Oil, Celeste, Class II Wells, Dave Hill, David R. Hill Inc, Energy In Depth Ohio, EPA, HB 501, Injection Wells, Jerry James, Kasich, Mahoning Valley, ODNR, OEPA, Ohio, Ohio Govenor Dick Celeste, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Safe Drinking Water Act, UIC, Youngstown
Got Milk? Congress Lake Farms Does!
Thursday, November 3rd, 2011 | 2 Comments
I ventured out to Congress Lake Farms in Mogadore, Ohio (Portage County) this week to visit with the Rufener family and find out why their farm is the talk of the town. Turns out, Kenny and Linda Rufener entered into an oil and gas lease agreement with Chesapeake Energy earlier this year and put all the money they received right back into their business in the form of a first class, state-of-the-art milk parlor! The new facility is not only visually impressive, but also more efficient, lowering the cost of producing milk while increasing income for this family farm.
You can see a picture of the new milk parlor below. Just one small example of how Utica Shale development is bringing the promise of economic development to the Ohio farm industry in particular and Ohio in general.
The Rufeners (featured in the videos below) immediately reinvested the money they recieved into building a milk parlor to ensure the continued success of their farming operations. This will not only help them financially in the short-term but will also ensure this treasured family asset can be passed on to the next generation to carry on the family tradition of dairy farming.
Brian Scott (featured in the below video) has been working on the Rufener family farm for nearly a decade and has farmed for just about as long as he can remember. Lets see what a veteran farmer like ol’ Brian has to say about the smooth operating milk parlor. Without spoiling the surprise he talks about how much more efficiently the operation can collect milk. The best part is the cows like the parlor too!
In addition to streamlining dairy operations, the new systems also enable the Rufener’s to measure the exact amount of milk each cow produces everyday. While this may seem like a minor development it ensures the Rufener’s are maximizing their production, gaining optimal profit for their product and ensuring the milk from their cattle is being produced in a safe and humane manner.
All in all this is a great success story. Due to the presence of natural gas on their property Kenny and Linda Rufener are not only investing in their own future, but also adding to the existing Ohio farming infrastructure that makes it profitable for supporting industries, like veterinarians and suppliers, to stay in the area and prosper. Good news for the Rufener’s, the state of Ohio and happy cows!
Tags: bonus, chesapeake energy, congress lake, congress lake country club, development, Energy In Depth Ohio, farms, milk parlor, mogadore, ohio dairy farmers, ohio farmer, oil and gas lease, portage county, Utica Shale
Debunking Athens Letter to the Editor
Thursday, October 20th, 2011 | 0 Comments
In reading a recent letter to the editor entitled “There’s plenty of Scientific Evidence Backing Up the Anti Fracking Position” in the Athens News on Sunday, one couldn’t help but think: If there is plenty of evidence, why doesn’t the author, Drake Chamberlin, cite one single study or remarks by a regulatory body to prove his statement? The answer, of course, is pretty straightforward: The facts simply don’t support opposition to hydraulic fracturing.
Although most of Chamberlin’s claims have already been debunked in a previous blog post by my colleague Dan Alfaro, it is worth addressing Chamberlin’s letter directly.
First of all, it’s important to reinforce a very important point: Hydraulic fracturing fluids are not secret formulas. In fact, when a company has these fluids on site they must keep a detailed log of what additives are used to fracture a well. The reason, of course, is that in case of an incident, workers, OSHA and emergency responders must know what they are trying to contain. If you would like to know what is actually in these fluids, here is a chart that details the most commonly used ingredients in a fracturing solution.
Here is a sampling of the other inflammatory statements made throughout this letter to the editor, all of which are addressed directly.
CHAMBERLIN: “Oil-producing shale contains Radium 226, Uranium and Radon 222, which can concentrate in fracking operations.”
FACT: Radium levels have never shown above the federal drinking standard due to hydraulic fracturing. “We deal in facts based on sound science,” said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer. “Here are the facts: all samples were at or below background levels of radioactivity; and all samples showed levels below the federal drinking water standard for Radium 226 and 228.”
FACT: Radon is naturally occurring in the earth. Just look at Licking County. If you dig a hole there is a possibility you will hit a radon pocket. Radon and Uranium is also a known trace element in ground water due to it being naturally occurring in the earth. There has never been one example of unsafe levels of Uranium, Radon or Radium found in water where hydraulic fracturing has been utilized. The author’s claims are again baseless.
CHAMBERLIN: “The oil and gas industry has managed to exempt h-fracking from the protections of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.”
FACT: Contrary to this letter’s assumptions — similarly presented in the movie Gasland — the process of hydraulic fracturing has never in its 60-year history been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 included language that simply reaffirmed this history, while also acknowledging the important role that states play in the direct regulation and oversight of the fracturing process. Nor should anyone assume — much less boldly claim — that the federal government does not regulate hydraulic fracturing. In fact, onshore oil and gas production is regulated by the federal government through every step of the process.
- Clean Water Act: “Onshore exploration and production facilities may be subject to four aspects of the CWA: national effluent limitation guidelines, stormwater regulations, and wetlands regulations, and Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements.” (p. 101)
- Clean Air Act: “The oil and gas production industry is subject to … National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants … Additional requirements include the installation of air emission control devices, and adherence to test methods and procedures, monitoring and inspection requirements, and recordkeeping and reporting requirements.” (p. 100) Like other industries, oil and natural gas extraction facilities may be regulated in areas that fail to meet CAA ambient air quality standards if they emit those materials.
CHAMBERLIN: “Fracking companies have consistently denied any responsibility for diseases in areas of their operations.”
FACT: It is hard to take responsibility for an act when one has not happened. Carol Browner, EPA Administrator under President Bill Clinton, stated in 1995 that there is “no evidence” that hydraulic fracturing has resulted in drinking water contamination or endangerment. Current EPA Director Lisa Jackson has also affirmed the safety of hydraulic fracturing, when she said recently during congressional testimony: “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”
What every good argument needs is facts and studies to back up the statement. When it comes to judging the safety of hydraulic fracturing, hopefully the readers of the Athens News do a little more research than Mr. Chamberlin did.
OOGA Chief Lays Out the Facts on the Ron Ponder Show
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 | 0 Comments
Earlier today, Tom Stewart — executive VP of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association and our fearless leader here at EID Ohio — sat down for a quick chat with Ron Ponder, the popular host of “Points with Ponder” on WHBC in Canton. Here’s a link to the full audio: http://www.youtube.com/eidohio#p/a/u/0/1B2iyPKowvE
Below are a few highlights from that interview, which focused on separating some of the myths from facts on the responsible development of the Utica Shale in Ohio – along with some bits about the history of fracturing technology in America, and the tremendous economic and employment potential of this homegrown Ohio resource:
Ponder: This [hydraulic fracturing] issue is not going to go away and we always cover it from both sides of the issue so give us an idea and tell us who you represent and what your position is on [hydraulic fracturing]?
Stewart: I represent the Ohio Oil and Gas Assocation and since the 1940s it has advocated on behalf of independent oil and gas produces – anybody that is engaged in the process of exploring for, developing and producing oil and gas resources in the state of Ohio. I also serve as the Executive Director of Energy in Depth — a grassroots campaign to get information out on the subjects we are talking about.
Ponder: So, now we can automatically assume that you are a pro drilling and a pro [hydraulic fracturing] person? Tell us why.
Stewart: I am pro American energy and pro jobs. I am pro reliable energy. Ohio has a fantastic opportunity with Utica shall development to provide more of what we already have been providing for the state of Ohio which is locally produced resources – primarily natural gas and oil – that are being used here within our borders. With the development of major new technologies we are unlocking the key to a very dense formation that contains a lot of oil and gas but the technology was not there before to get it out and the industry has developed that technology and it will be a very meaningful event for the state of Ohio.
Ponder: You mentioned the Utica Shale but also the Marcellus Shale formations, all of the reports I have read indicate a vast amount of trapped oil and gas beneath the surface. Now the issue here is, I think, is [hydraulic fracturing], can you explain the fracking process to our listeners?
Stewart: Hydraulic fracturing is a process that has been in place since 1947. The first wells hydraulic fractured in the state of Ohio begin in 1952 or 1953. Since that time, there has been over 80,000 wells hydraulic fractured in the state of Ohio. The reason you would frack a well is, you attempt to create permeability – a pathway through resource rock where the permeability does not exist to allow oil and gas to move through the rock and into the well boar. In a lot of reservoirs, like the Clinton sandstone right underneath your feet there in Stark County, there is a lot of oil and gas… that probably came from a source rock below it called Utica Shale. It’s trapped in the Clinton but the permeability characteristic does not allow it to move [freely] so you frack the well to open-up a pathway through the rock [which]allows the oil and gas to come to the well boar and produce in economic quantities.
Ponder: Now the governor just placed $1.7 million additional in the budget for the monitoring of these wells. How confident are you that the ODNR has the resources, the man power, the technology resources to adequately monitor the fracking ?
Stewart: Very confident. In Senate Bill 165 last year… which 118, out of 130 members of the general assembly voted for, so a large bi-partisan majority… doubled funding from the industry to the regulatory program and lock boxed, in matter of fact. In addition… the bi annual budget bill that was just enacted back in June, there was additional money that was brought over from the general revenue funds to give the resources to the oil and gas regulatory program to immediately staff-up and address a lot of specific issues that need to be addressed as this shale play gets up on its feet.
I think that money will eventually be expected to be returned primarily through future severances taxes. So before shale became a huge issue, the resources were doubled-up to make sure they had the resources to protect the public trust.
In Senate Bill 165, which was probably the most significant amendment to oil and gas law since the oil and gas chapter was created in 1960′s, there were specific issues addressed, including the big one, which is well construction and two, frack disclosure where any citizen can go in and look at the public record on well completion reports and find out how the well was fracked, what constituents went into the frack, at what point they went into the frack and in what concentration. You can also get what is called the “frack chart,” which shows you pressure and rate over time. So if there is an incident that happened during that stimulation job out on a well [on a given] day it would show up on that chart. S0 so the complete record is there.
In addition, at the request of the Ohio Environmental Council, an amendment was added to Senate Bill 165 that provides for disclosure of all chemicals that are used [in the hydraulic fracturing process]… which are posted up on the ODNR website. That’s in addition huge advances in enforcement authority that were given to the oil and gas regulatory program to make sure that if there was someone creating a problem, that they have the full tools underneath the law to pursue that person and seek corrective action and take action on behalf of the public trust.
All of that was validated by a peer critique that brought the environmental community and regulators from outside the state of Ohio, industry, U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE . [They found] that the oil and gas regulatory program, and specific to hydraulic fracturing revisions in Senate Bill 165… that the regulatory program was very well managed and was meeting its program objectives. It also had a lot to recommend to other states on how to do it right. This was signed off on by the environmental community.
Ponder: The person who did this presumably had no dog in this fight he is objective?
Stewart: It was an organization called STRONGER — The State Review of Oil and Natural Gas of Environmental Regulations – that brings stake holders together to actually do something constructive to improve the situation, instead of trying to destroy the situation. There were environmentalists involved, including an environmentalist from the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and Earthworks… The person that lead the review team is one of the founding members of Earthworks and the Oil and Gas Accountability Project. They signed off on that report saying that the Ohio program is meeting its program objectives and has a lot to recommend to other states.
Ponder: Let us quickly turn our attention to the subject of jobs. I have heard all kinds of projections on how many jobs that the drilling industry is going to increase here in the state of Ohio do you have an estimate?
Stewart: We can talk about that. Let us call it the oil and natural gas exploration and production industry. Drilling is part of that and fracturing is a one day event in the life of a well. [Hydraulic fracturing] is a well stimulation process, it does not have anything to do with drilling and very little to do with production. It is just a well stimulation process to get a well to produce, then you’re done.
There is an economic study that came out which was conducted by Kleinhenz and Associates out of Cleveland. They do a lot of this kind of work for a variety of industries that updated a study that OOGEEP did in 2008… They estimate that if the Utica comes around, as many people expect it to do, that it could generate upwards of 204,000 jobs. That is a significant event for the state of Ohio.
Ponder: 204,000 jobs
Stewart: That is a lot of jobs.
Ponder: That is a lot of jobs.
To listen to the the interview, click HERE.