Danger of Deteriorating Oil and Gas Wells

Social, legal and health issues related to air and water toxic pollution in Australia.

Danger of Deteriorating Oil and Gas Wells

Postby HVPA_research » Tue Apr 05, 2011 12:32 pm

Link to this page: http://forum.huntervalleyprotectionalliance.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=308,http://bit.ly/e1VHME
The following case study review from various US states
Deteriorating Oil and Gas Wells Threaten Drinking Water, Homes Across the Country illustrates the deadly combination of drilling new gas wells in the areas drilled previously. Nothing lasts for ever and even properly capped abandoned wells will eventually deteriorated and allow migration of gas and or toxic chemicals into the biosphere. The whole article is well worth reading but this comment from somebody signed Tom summarizes the problem best:


Today, 5:25 p.m.

This is an important story, but just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, a very large percentage of oil and gas wells will fail, whether due to movement of the earth or to decay of the steel and concrete from which the well is constructed. This makes high-volume hydraulic fracturing for natural gas an absurdly short-sighted practice, for which generations to come will curse us. Here’s why: Unlike earlier forms of hydrofracturing, which used much smaller volumes of water, the typical shale gas well uses 5 million gallons of water, 80% of which remains underground, never to be retrieved. Almost all of the (well-deserved) bad press the industry has gotten has focused on the 20% that returns, and indeed it is a problem—contaminated with high levels of potent carcinogens and radioactivity that are very difficult to remove, particularly at the massive volumes at which they are produced.

The 4 million gallons of water that remain underground are just as potent, and they will only be prevented from commingling with fresh water supplies so long as the well bore remains intact. (Put aside for the moment the question of migration of frac water through natural fractures, which also can occur, despite industry claims that it is impossible.) Geology professor Marc Durand of Quebec, who specializes in hydrogeology and rock mechanics, put a time frame of as little as 10 to 30 years before the first wells begin to fail, in an article published in the Montreal Gazette on March 7, 2011. Similarly, scientists such as hydrogeologist Paul Rubin and chemist Dr. Ron Bishop have argued that large-scale groundwater contamination is inevitable over time, for the reasons noted above. (See their submissions to the Delaware River Basin Commission found at

How bad will the damage be? Consider first that a single blown well casing in Dimock, PA, allowed the contamination of a 9-square-mile area, rendering the ground water unusable, and then recognize that entire regions, including areas that supply water to millions of people along the Eastern Seaboard, are slated to become drilling areas, with 18,000 wells projected in the Delaware River Basin that supplies New York City, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Delaware, and thousands more in the Susquehanna watershed that drains to the Chesapeake.

As Professor Durand noted, these threats caused by shale gas production will persist for thousands of years and are likely to cause “irreversible harm” in the areas where it occurs.

Little bit of web searching shows tha Professor Durant is real (http://www2.canada.com/story.html?id=4387383&p=2). He said:

Durand noted that gas companies are scrambling worldwide to stake their claims and trying to rush the process along, sometimes leaning on politicians.

They promote shale gas as a cleaner alternative to coal and oil.

But the companies' assurances that shale-gas production is as safe as conventional gas production do not stand up, Durand says.

Conventional natural gas can be extracted without fracking and 95 per cent and more is recovered. Fracking leaves behind a chemical soup that includes radiation, the New York Times revealed this week, and 80 per cent of the gas stays in the ground.

Even though abandoned wells will be capped with concrete, Durand points to Quebec's experience with crumbling bridges and overpasses.

"Each of the wells will still be there for a thousand years as the concrete degrades or the steel corrodes," he said, adding, "I would say the lifespan of a well will be between 10 and 30 years.

"So in 10 years, we will have the first wells that collapse. What will we do then?"
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