Environmental Groups Have Lost the War Against Fracking

Fracking Protest, Matt Rourke AP Article CaptionGuest essay by Steve Goreham

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a technique to remove natural gas and oil from shale formations, has been under withering assault from environmental groups for much of the last decade. Fracking has been blamed for contamination of drinking water, air pollution, earthquakes, water shortages, global warming, radiation discharge, and even cancer. But it appears that environmentalists have lost the battle against fracking.

Environmental groups have been almost unanimously opposed to hydraulic fracturing. Greenpeace and the Sierra Club favor outright bans, and other organizations call for tight controls on the process. According to the Sierra Club website, “‘Fracking,’ a violent process that dislodges gas deposits from shale rock formations, is known to contaminate drinking water, pollute the air, and cause earthquakes. If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.”

But the case against hydraulic fracturing is weak. Shale is typically fractured at depths greater than 5,000 feet, with thousands of feet of rock between the fractured area and the water table, which is located near the surface. When properly designed, fracking wells are lined with multiple layers of steel and cement casing to prevent leakage of water and natural gas into the local water supply. Approximately one million wells have been hydraulically fractured over the last six decades without cases of water contamination. During Congressional testimony in 2011, Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson stated, “I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water, although there are investigations ongoing.”

Earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing appear to be minimal. Only a handful of micro quakes have been linked to fractured wells. None of these quakes have caused damage and most are too weak to feel. Nor is there evidence to show that fracking poses greater air pollution, radiation discharge, or cancer impact than agriculture, other mining, or other common industrial processes.

Burning natural gas releases carbon dioxide, like any other combustion. Climate activists oppose natural gas as a planet-warming fossil fuel and therefore oppose fracking. But gas combustion releases about half the carbon dioxide of coal combustion. The majority of the decline in US carbon dioxide emissions over the last ten years is due to the switch of electric utilities from coal to natural gas fuel, not from the growth of renewables.

Arguments about pollution of drinking water, earthquakes, water usage, radiation, and cancer appear to be a smoke screen to protect renewable energy, the sacred cow of the environmental movement. Natural gas from hydraulic fracturing is a direct threat to the growth of wind and solar energy.

Gas-fueled power plants are low-cost and dispatchable. In contrast, wind and solar electricity is two to three times the price and plagued by intermittent output, unable to respond to varying electrical demand. With hundreds of years of natural gas available from hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling techniques, why build another wind turbine?

Fracking opposition has been strong in isolated locations across the world. Bans or moratoriums are in place in Bulgaria, France, Germany, and South Africa. Protesters are blocking fracking operations in England and Poland. Selected US counties and communities have imposed fracking bans. The state of New York established a fracking moratorium in 2008 and has delayed approval of fracking for more than five years. Ironically, natural gas provides a growing majority of New York’s energy consumption.

US Gas Growth EIA Projections Article

Despite the opposition, it appears that environmental groups have lost the battle against fracking. In 2012, 40 percent of US natural gas production was shale gas, using fracking technology, up from less than one percent in 2000. Shale gas is projected to exceed 50 percent of production by 2040. US crude oil production is also surging due to oil recovered from shale fields, up more than 50 percent since 2005.

In Europe, concerns about energy dependency on Russia have triggered a turnaround of government opposition to fracking. Germany is preparing a framework for tapping oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing and planning to lift its ban. The British government is proposing policies to remove roadblocks from fracking efforts.

The Obama administration, despite its campaign to fight climate change, publically supports hydraulic fracturing and liquefied natural gas exports. Climate hawks, such as Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, also support the expansion of natural gas, to the dismay of green organizations. Governor Jerry Brown of California presses for action on climate change, but has not opposed hydraulic fracturing.

Today, hydraulic fracturing is underway in 21 states. Several more states are developing supporting regulations. Despite a number of local bans, fracking is now a frequently used industrial process across the nation.

Shale gas and oil are here to stay. Weak environmental arguments to ban fracking are being overwhelmed by the irresistible economic bonanza of low-cost energy.

Originally published in Communities Digital News, republished here by submission from the author.


Steve Goreham is Executive Director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism:  Mankind and Climate Change Mania.

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June 11, 2014 12:07 pm

The word fracking was a PR disaster, it sounds so unpleasant. Can anybody think of a better name?

Sweet Old Bob
June 11, 2014 12:20 pm

I like the sound of “fracking ” the green nutjobs…

June 11, 2014 12:23 pm

“Anthropocentric Bedrock Change”

June 11, 2014 12:26 pm

The actual name for Fracking is well stimulation. This of course could stimulate some minds. Aditionally, water wells are also stimulated. Anytime the formation permeability is low, the stimulation will improve the flow. See what I mean.

June 11, 2014 12:29 pm

Common Sense is winning the battle against the Earth worshipers.

Joe Public
June 11, 2014 12:33 pm

The most effective means of long-term CO2 reduction for those who really believe it’s a problem, is self-sterilisation.

June 11, 2014 12:33 pm

To frack not to frack.
Face the green slings and arrows aspersions.
Or to feed warm family.

June 11, 2014 12:35 pm

Well, everything gives you cancer…

June 11, 2014 12:36 pm

What is needed is education. Hydraulic fracturing has been going on for almost 70 years – like since I was born. From Wikipedia: “The first, experimental use of hydraulic fracturing was in 1947, and the first, commercially successful applications of fracking were in 1949. Worldwide, as of 2012, 2.5 million hydraulic fracturing jobs have been performed on oil and gas wells; more than one million jobs were performed in the U.S.[3][4]”
And if you don’t like here is a note from Alberta Environment:
Alberta has used hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas recovery since the 1950s. Since then, … Baseline Water Well Testing for Coalbed Methane Development;
The concern seems to be related to fracturing shallow formations and somehow some environmentalists and news media decided they had a story. Probably there has been an incident or two. Just like with water wells that hit gas or people falling asleep at the wheel.
It just seem like the soup de jour to me since its been done almost since we first started producing oil in Alberta. We have even done it is water wells to improve production.
I learned about “fracturing” in hydrology classes 50 years ago so I don’t understand the media attention. I guess it has to do with the combination of horizontal drilling and fracturing, particularly in coal bed methane and that somehow has evolved to “all fracturing is bad”.
The words “stimulating production” used to be used but that applies to many things besides fracturing. Perhaps we should go back to that.

June 11, 2014 12:39 pm

“‘Fracking,’ a violent process…………… ROTFL

Nigel Harris
June 11, 2014 12:40 pm

Fracking looks particularly attractive if you compare it with coal mining. It is astonishing that anyone (apart perhaps from a coal miner) could simultaneously campaign against fracking and for continued or increased coal extraction.
Everything that is supposedly bad about fracking (groundwater contamination, fugitive methane emissions, seismic events, CO2 emissions when the fuel is burned) is worse with coal. In addition, the coal industry kills dozens of people a month directly in industrial accidents, not to consider the wider health impacts of the sulfur, nitrogen and other emissions from coal burning.
And the quickest way to stop the coal industry death toll is of course to make gas more economically attractive, through promotion of fracking.

Pamela Gray
June 11, 2014 12:43 pm

Poor little protestors have lost their teddies and blankies. I bet they still have their binkies and are at the teat of somebody’s tax dollars.

Nigel Harris
June 11, 2014 12:43 pm

At a big gas conference in Europe the other week it was suggested that the industry should get around the naming issue by talking about drilling for gas using “horizontal drilling” rather than “fracking”. Of course the two techniques go hand in hand when extracting hydrocarbons from shale.

June 11, 2014 12:45 pm

Mike, the correct nomenclature is ‘Hydraulic Stimulation’.
The next step in the ongoing development of hydraulic stimulation techniques is employing entirely re-used fluid which sidesteps two oft-quoted objections to hydraulic stimulation, namely the high water demand required during a well stimulation today in addition to disposal of used fluid and the traces of nasty chemicals contained there-in.
Next will probably be the use of gas (eevil CO2 maybe) in lieu of water as the carrier fluid.
Does the aversion to’fracking’ indicate a childhood exposure to Battlestar Galactica?

June 11, 2014 12:46 pm

“Hydraulic Well Stimulation” is an accurate way to describe the process.
“Fracking” is a derivative of “Fracturing” which is what the George Mitchell, the genius developr of the process, knew would increase production from ‘tight’ geological formations where low porosity restricted the amount fo hydrocarbons that could be economically recovered from a well. the greens, in their reactionary and fact-free hatred of fracking are really telling more about themselves than the process.
But today’s greens are not about a commitment to accuracy and truth. They are after imposition of an agenda at any cost.

June 11, 2014 12:54 pm

NIgel, talking about exploiting shale gas by ‘horizontal drilling’ would be pretty ambiguous given the number of conventional oil and gas wells drilled around the world each year that involve a horizontal drain section in the reservoir or a horizontal (or highly deviated) tangent section to reach a reservoir that is distant from a fixed drilling platform.
Are you sure the quamby who made the suggestion wasn’t a politician or PR consultant?

June 11, 2014 1:00 pm

I believe there’s still a moratorium on fracking in the National Socialist Democratic Peoples Republic of Maryland.

June 11, 2014 1:02 pm

Nigel Harris says:
June 11, 2014 at 12:40 pm
“In addition, the coal industry kills dozens of people a month…”
Oh horse hooey. The industry does not kill people. Accidents kill people. This is a silly argument against coal. I bet most of the deaths are in places like China where they don’t care all that much about works anyway.

Nigel Harris
June 11, 2014 1:11 pm

@ mkelly
I’d say the argument that the coal extractive industry has a dreadful safety record is a pretty strong argument against it provided there are other energy sources that have dramatically better safety records. Which there are. And fracking is one of them.

June 11, 2014 1:20 pm

Well stimulation has been done with many things. Nuclear explosives were used in the swords to plowshares program, such as the Rio Blanco shot. Unfortunately or fortunately it did not pan out because the shock wave decreased the permeability of the formation. Solid rocket propellants have been used to drive fluids at a high rate into tight (low permeability) formations. Rapid drive produces a star shape of shorter fractures around the well. Nitrogen at ahigh rate of injection has also been used. The most common is a spearhead of 10k gallons of HF acid or some other material that will facilitate stress corrosion fracture, followed by a million or more pounds of high quatz “sand.” The grains are about the size of a small pea. The sand is suspended in a common food thickener additive with some friction reducing compunds added. As the fluid is being injected a polymer breaker is added to facilitate the flowback of the fluids. The fluids are injected at about 10K 15K psi. and 5 to 30 barrels per minute using large positive displacement pumps. The pressures and flows will change with the depth of the formation and the stimulation design. Above about 2500 ft the fractures become horizontal as it is easier to lift the overburden. below 2500 ft the fracures will be mostly vertical in the direction parallel to the regional stress. In shale the fractures will go mostly in the plane of the shale.

John West
June 11, 2014 1:24 pm

“When properly designed, fracking wells”
I’d say when properly designed and installed, fracking wells …
One can have a perfect plan/design but if executed/installed poorly the results can still come up short in the performance department.

June 11, 2014 1:27 pm

The 6 year recession that we have been in is what killed their cause. The fact there was no recovery from the last recession before hitting the next one meant people would not pay attention. Add to that the Obama policies that restricted oil extraction by limiting leases, driving up the cost, meant people did not have the money to worry about fracking.
You can only heap misery on people for so long and so much before they retreat to a bunker mentality. Where they seek to assure their own survival, not some mythic catastrophe from a Hollywood movie set.

June 11, 2014 1:33 pm

The states that do not allow well stimulation should also be ecouraged to pass legislation to not allow any hydrocarbon that was produced by well stimulation to be consumed in their state or city. These hydrocarbons were produced by evil means and will only bring evil with them or some such nonsense. I remember that in Germany some scammers were selling radiation shield covers to put over the electrical wall plugs to keep the radiation from coming out. The logic was that the electricity came from nuclear reactors.

June 11, 2014 1:33 pm

“Can anybody think of a better name?”
Cohabitating with the rocks?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 11, 2014 1:33 pm

Gas-fueled power plants are low-cost and dispatchable.
More proof the current UK couldn’t pull off a one horse parade without a right royal cock-up.

Gas plants have closed because they’re not economical to run when ticking along; when demand is under 57 per cent, the operator may as well close it. The government’s complex measures include a new “Capacity Market”, which encourages mothballed gas and coal plants to be pressed into action.

June 11, 2014 1:39 pm

If Greenpeace had been around in the 1700’s, would we even have had an Industrial Revolution?

June 11, 2014 1:41 pm

The fact that the Greenies lost isn’t as surprising as the fact that it took so long
before the majority came to realize how stupid their arguments were.

June 11, 2014 1:45 pm

John Weat Says: …
I was present at a frac job when the christmas tree lifted about 4 ft in the air. I was not enough to trigger the BOP, but it was enough to shut down the pumps and make a few people outrun jackrabbits.

June 11, 2014 1:49 pm

“If Greenpeace had been around in the 1700′s, would we even have had an Industrial Revolution?”
They were around, although back then they were called the Luddites.

Gunga Din
June 11, 2014 1:49 pm

“Can anybody think of a better name?”
Permeability enhancement?
Hydraulic freeing?
Fracking Rocks!!

Joel O'Bryan
June 11, 2014 2:01 pm

What Obama says publicly about supporting Fracking is a lie to hide his real, hidden from the public, plans with the environmental extremists that are a major base for Democrats.
The White House and the EPA are secretly in the hunt for shutting down hydraulic fracturing by re-writing Clean Water Act (CWA) regulations and claiming almost any creek, dry river, or pond is a navigable waterway. In doing so the EPA could veto the state’s ability to regulate and control fracking since the waste frack fluid is re-injected into deep disposal wells on private lands and state lands.
see: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2014-04-21/pdf/2014-07142.pdf
From the summary of the proposed rule change:
“This proposal would enhance protection for the nation’s public health and aquatic resources, and increase CWA program predictability and consistency by increasing clarity as to the scope of ‘‘waters of the United States’’ protected under the Act.”
Just another Executive power grab by Obama, under the ruse of environmental protection.

Robert W Turner
June 11, 2014 2:04 pm

I guess you make yourself look dumb when you get all of your propagand….err…information from a docudrama about a technical engineering process made by a liberal arts major. I suggest we call this type of misinformation, stemming from docudramas, ingoremation.

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 11, 2014 2:12 pm

TonyK said on June 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm:

If Greenpeace had been around in the 1700′s, would we even have had an Industrial Revolution?

More troubling would have been PETA, as they’d force a ceasing of using animals for farming and transportation. That’d knock civilization down a notch.
But while it’s immoral to have animals do human work, humans can do human work. And there would be an endless supply of replacements for the animals in the form of unwashed savages from Africa, then South America, in assorted Pacific territories, the Middle and Far East…
Why would they need machines to replace the abundant labor that all civilized people had grown accustomed to needing and using?

June 11, 2014 2:14 pm

I wouldn’t claim victory just yet. The watermelons don’t give up easily.
The headline of this story spreads across Facebook and is reposted by such sites as 350.org, but the actual article doesn’t make it sound like pollution is that big of a deal. Unfortunately, the low info crowd don’t read the actual article.

June 11, 2014 2:19 pm

Economics trumps all. Europe lives under its relentless rules as we do. Fossil fuels are so very, very cheap and efficient nothing else is even close. And some recent evidence points to fossil fuels actually being “renewables”. Anyone who thinks we can stop using fossil fuels and still maintain anything like a modern standard of living is smoking too much rope. To quote Hemingway – “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”

Steve C
June 11, 2014 2:28 pm

Hydrobaric flow optimisation, or hyflow.
Sounds “fluffy” enough, and 100% honest.

Robert W Turner
June 11, 2014 2:36 pm

planebrad says:
It seems that none of the cases mentioned involved hydraulic fracturing, just drilling activity. Apparently less than 1% of the complaints have supporting evidence with them, meaning a lot of people are crying wolf and swamping the conservation agencies.
At least they have wised up in most states and are requiring a baseline water test before drilling, which is irrefutable proof either way and cheap insurance for the operator. I’ll wager that the number of complaints drop with baseline water tests considering most complaints occur in areas with plenty of biogenic methane already in the ground water, e.g. Pennylvania. In Pennsylvania’s case, and anywhere else with late 1800s early 1900s drilling activity, contamination can occur from improperly plugged well bores that are close to new wells being stimulated. Many of these old wells were never even reported to the state and no one even knows they are there.

Santa Baby
June 11, 2014 2:42 pm

What they really try to say is:
Fracking causes cheap energy and a big middle class?

June 11, 2014 2:43 pm

My brother-in-law is an Assistant Attorney General for the peoples Republic of Maryland. They do have a moratorium on fracking. He smoothly repeated the party line when I asked him about it by saying that I could not prove that Fracking was safe. I pointed out that you cannot prove a negative. When I said that I thought that restricting property development was equivalent to taking, he suggested that if I felt that way I could sue the state. If he wasn’t the father of of my niece and nephew, I would put him on a blacklist of thugs to be purged when we finally get control of the national government back. Any lawyer that argues for less constitutional rights should be barred from the practice of law entirely. Our current dictator in chief is the archetypical example of the danger of this kind of modern progressive thinking.
Where did you get your information about Fracking? I have never heard of 10,000 gallons of hydrofluoric acid being added to modern hydraulic fracturing. That sounds very scary. Are you sure you’re not confusing hydraulic fracturing stimulation with acid stimulation? Hydrofluoric acid is extremely corrosive ( it dissolves glass and has to be contained in beeswax) and I don’t believe that you could get very far down steel pipe without totally corroding the pipe.

June 11, 2014 2:47 pm

Think of it as foreplay for Gaia.

June 11, 2014 2:48 pm

Steve C says:
June 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm
Hydrobaric flow optimisation, or hyflow.
Sounds “fluffy” enough, and 100% honest.
I like it!

June 11, 2014 2:55 pm

A chum of mine used to work as a safety analyst for the now defunct UK coal board. He asserted that most of the accidents (death or injury) in deep coal mines were due to miners riding the conveyor belts, i.e. were self-inflicted. I won’t dispute that the overall stats for deaths per TJ are much worse for coal than any other energy source, but I wonder how they’d look if you could eliminate the conveyor belt casualties..

June 11, 2014 3:01 pm

Why do we still here about Liquid NG export? The USA is currently a net importer of more than 1 trillion Cu ft of Natural Gas Annually. Further more New Production or additional production is not keeping up with new demand. That is the reason well head prices have more than doubled over the past 18 months. BTW $4.50 worth of NG (1 million Btu’s) has the equivalent energy of 8 gallons of gasoline.
NG is currently being sold for $2.25 per equivalent gallon of gasoline on the retail market. Many local urban delivery and collection trucks are switching to NG.

June 11, 2014 3:04 pm

According to the latest issue of Forbes, the U.S. will soon bve a net exporter of natural gas. When that happens, it will put even more upward pressure on prices.

June 11, 2014 3:07 pm

The word fracking was a PR disaster, it sounds so unpleasant. Can anybody think of a better name?

Well, back when they dropped a couple of quarts of nitroglycerin down a well, they called it “Hot-Shotting“.

June 11, 2014 3:32 pm

moliterno59: says
go to https://www.onepetro.org/search?q=spearhead+hydrofluoric+acid&peer_reviewed=&published_between=&from_year=&to_year=
or http://scholar.google.com and look for spearhead hydraulic fracture HF
The spearhead will change depening on conditions. The HF I am talking about is not the 49% acid. Hf is a weakly ionizing acid. It is used for removing oxides from metals (descaling) it will weakly attack iron. It replaces oxygen in oxides and makes them water soluble. The spearhead is a weak solution of HF or HCL and HF. The acids are consumed (neutralized) in the process.
HF is very nasty on flesh as it works slowly and the damage is not felt until a lot of damage has been done. Hf reacts with calcium (such as in bone or calcium carbonate) to give calcium fluoride. Calcium which is called fluorospar which is used as a flux in iron production. Fluorine is also a component of bone in the form of calcium fluoro phosphate (apatite.) It really makes me sad when I hear some people say they don’t want any chemicals in their food or environment. It tells me they are grossly ignorant and that “modern education” is a failure.
I could go on and on./rant over

kadaka (KD Knoebel)
June 11, 2014 3:40 pm

From OK S. on June 11, 2014 at 3:07 pm:

Well, back when they dropped a couple of quarts of nitroglycerin down a well, they called it “Hot-Shotting“.

I remember that from a MacGyver episode, except that was to blow out a well fire.
So was that a procedure, take a low-producing well, start a fire, then get the environmental authorities to grant emergency permission to put it out rather than submit applications and impact studies to eventually get fracking authorization?

June 11, 2014 3:43 pm

” … I learned about “fracturing” in hydrology classes 50 years ago so I don’t understand the media attention. I guess it has to do with the combination of horizontal drilling and fracturing, particularly in coal bed methane and that somehow has evolved to “all fracturing is bad”. …”
The evolution is strictly political. With the modern “environmentalist” leading a full out attack on all cheap and reliable energy sources along with the huge reserves of Shale Gas, we are now being subjected to massive propaganda. These people are not “environmentalists” at all. I want a clean world and I don’t want any portions of our world needlessly polluted. In fact, I would much rather see Shale Gas used to power our lives than conventional nuclear plants that produce massive radioactive wastes.

Gary Pearse
June 11, 2014 3:51 pm

“Despite a number of local bans, fracking is now a frequently used industrial process across the nation.”
How about: We have been fracturing formations for first, water and then oil gas and since the Civil War. Instead of hydraulic, explosives ( both gunpowder and nitroglycerine) were used which were much less controllable and resulted in some deaths of well workers.
Conventional oil and gas has been fractured (torpedoed) since the industry began and torpedoing was used up into the 1960s. Hydraulic fracturing began in 1947 in a gas field in Kansas and has only come fully into its own after the turn of the millennium. I guess, the thing never got out until green zealots heard there might be a lot of cheap fossil fuel available. It is not new.
“Shale gas and oil are here to stay. Weak environmental arguments to ban fracking are being overwhelmed by the irresistible economic bonanza of low-cost energy.”
And this is a lesson that governments can overwhelm such destructive environmental zealotry with little effort. All you have to do is please your constituency, not those who circumvent the democratic process. Environmental organizations actions have, over recent years, begun to self-marginalize them. Greenpeace has become a joke and is now merely a political organization.

June 11, 2014 3:53 pm

“The word fracking was a PR disaster, it sounds so unpleasant. Can anybody think of a better name?”
Earth Acupuncture and Deep Strata Massage

June 11, 2014 3:58 pm

Instead of “fracking”, name it “Sustainable Oil and Gas Production” (SOGP) or “Sustainable Energy Production” (SEP) or “Advanced Geo Energy Production” (AGEP). It could drive the eco-freaks nuts. Just make sure “advanced or sustainable” is in the name.

June 11, 2014 4:04 pm

What is so different between early fracking in the 40s, 50s and 60s, is the introduction of horizontal drilling which greatly expands the area that can be fracked from one well. Another is the much greater depths of the drilling.

more soylent green!
June 11, 2014 4:33 pm

Don’t you believe it. With this Administration and the environmental activist apparatchiks running the EPA, the only thing lost is a sensible energy policy that provides a secure and affordable energy supply for the American people.

June 11, 2014 4:35 pm

As a climate sceptic, I share many of the views expressed here but as with GM foods, much of the data on fracking is suppressed by vested interests. CO2 is not a pollutant but fracking is potentially hazardous to health and the environment.
Oil companies have hardly been paragons when it comes to preserving life on earth – think Deep Water Horizon – there had been a similar blow out in the Caspian Sea previously arising form the same quick drying cement. It was covered up by BP, chaired by Sir John Browne who now chairs Cuadrilla which is intent on fracking in the UK.
Corporations will always cut corners for a profit irrespective of risk to life and the environment. Until there is full disclosure of fracking data in the US, the UK is well advised to avoid it. Our small, densely populated island allows little margin for error:
If fracking is such a good idea perhaps Cameron’s Cotswold home is the place to try it first!
We need alternative energy sources for many reasons, climate is not one of them but fracking isn’t the silver bullet to our energy needs.

June 11, 2014 4:50 pm

db stealey:
For what it is worth I put more faith in my research on NG production and consumption than anything Forbes writes.
NG production from shale formations deplete much faster than conventional gas wells; as much as 50 and 80% after the first and second year. Therefore many more new wells must be drilled in shale formations to maintain production as compared to conventional gas wells.
IMO as the percentage of production from shale wells increases depletion of these wells will overtake our ability to drill for new production. That time is drawing near and may occur within a year or two. Therefore we may never see zero net imports.

Dave Wendt
June 11, 2014 5:02 pm

In the complete history of oil, across the entire planet, there have been 10 fields which have achieved 1Mil barrels/day production levels. Three of the 10 are right here, right now in the U.S. The reason this is so is “fracking” which has resulted in the U.S. out producing Saudi Arabia for quite a number of months now and that fact has produced a number of other benefits.
Of course the Bamster is trying to claim credit for all the good stuff, even though he and his minions have done everything they could legally do, and some things that weren’t so legal, the throw every roadblock they could envision in the path of the fracking revolution. Luckily for both him and us, they almost entirely unsuccessful.

Dave Wendt
June 11, 2014 5:03 pm
Dave Wendt
June 11, 2014 5:06 pm
June 11, 2014 5:09 pm

They have to realize that tracking has been around for over 60 years and has only gotten better and less environmentally unfriendly over the years. It is only bad actions by some wild-catting drillers that can cause problems. They also have to realize that it behooves these guys NOT to have leaks in their multiple-walled wells as there is no profit in losing the gas.
Claims that methane in the atmosphere is increasing are bogus and the claim that it is a greenhouse gas is laughable as there is not such thing as a gas that can warm the climate. The half-life of both methane and CO2 in the atmosphere is about five years, which indicates that it will NOT have a cumulative effect. Also, even if it is a “greenhouse gas” that is reputedly 20 times more powerful than CO2, it is 500 times less in atmospheric concentration, meaning that it has only at most 4% of the effect CO2 could have and the CO2 we emit is only 3% of the global emissions, the rest being natural.
The bottom-line is that we have no effect on either the CO2 or the methane concentration in the atmosphere. Natural processes vastly outweigh our contribution. And, then, do not forget that these gases cannot do what they claim.

Dave Wendt
June 11, 2014 5:16 pm

I have made a couple attempts to supply this corrected link for my 5.02 pm comment
If this goes through please delete those previous efforts, if they are lingering somewhere in the system.

Rud Istvan
June 11, 2014 5:26 pm

Fact correction. Natural gas burned in a modern base load CCGT is actually only about 39 to 34 percent the exhaust CO2 of coal (depending on size, design generation, and comparison baseline). The best CCGT is about 60-61% thermally efficient run in base load mode. The best baseload USC coal is about 42-45%, and the installed US coal baseload plant is only 34%. All data from the EIA. Readily availale on line.
Plus natural gas is CH4, so combustion produces one CO2 and two H2O per molecule combusted. Coal is essentially C, so produces only CO2. Do the rest of the math yourself, including lower heat value content (hint, heating exhaust water vapor does not count).
If you want to really influence this policy debate, at least get your high school level chemistry facts straight. Please. Before posting. It is actually a starker contrast than you portray; the logical consistency of the anti-frackers is much worse. Do not bring a knife to a gunfight. And shoot to kill.

June 11, 2014 5:57 pm

otsar says:
June 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm
John Weat Says: …
I was present at a frac job when the christmas tree lifted about 4 ft in the air. I was not enough to trigger the BOP, but it was enough to shut down the pumps and make a few people outrun jackrabbits.
Probably from surge. I once worked on a project where trapped air in a force main resulted in extreme water hammer (surge) that lifted a section of pipe buried eight feet deep – right out of the ground. Improper start up without releasing the air first was the cause. Relatively low pressure sewage force main but surge can do amazing things.
Now think of a few thousand psi and sudden pressure release. But there are many safety factors in industry. There is so much focus on safety and environment theses days because no one wants to be the bad guy. There may be some people who short cut company procedures, but I would suspect there are few corporate types that would allow it if they knew. The costs today are just too great, not just in dollars but in future public perceptions and what industry is allowed to do. Now, I can’t speak for operations, but in the design and construction end, safety and design review is unbelievably rigorous. IMHO.

June 11, 2014 6:12 pm

I’m astonished at some of the WUWT comments, so well informed on the CAGW myth, have not informed themselves on the myth that Fracking is environmentally safe.
Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea…
One small quote from the industries own data…
5% of wells leak when new, when you get to 20 to 30 yrs there are nearly 50% that leak…
A higher percentage of new wells are leaking than older ones did when they were new – technology is supposed to improve the situation NOT get worse – WUWT

contaminated ground water
CONTAMINATED GROUND WATER, that lasts for a very long time – were talking geological time…

June 11, 2014 6:20 pm

Replacement word: “Well Development” Around here (Central Alberta) they don’t use “fracturing” or “fracking”. After a well is drilled, the drill rig comes down and then another crew comes in to “develop” or “complete” the well. The process is referred to as “well development” or “well completion” in both the water and oil industries. Many of the oil wells around me have been operating since the 50’s and some are “treated” every few years to improve their performance. And that is another word that is often used in addition to the above two – “Well Treatment” (along with well stimulation). Fracking is just one of the many processes that may used in completing/ developing/stimulating a well.

M Simon
June 11, 2014 6:24 pm

Wayne Delbeke says:
June 11, 2014 at 5:57 pm
Hydraulic ram pumps
Make use of that principle
Wayne – it sounds like aircraft design procedures are being implemented at all levels of industry. It is expensive. So what is needed is to figure out how to get that level of rigor at lower costs.

M Simon
June 11, 2014 6:27 pm

neillusion says:
June 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm
Fracking has been done for a very long time (50 years). How come what you claim it is just being noticed?

Steve from Rockwood
June 11, 2014 6:29 pm

There is a one-time reduction in CO2 moving from coal to gas. This may explain why so many green-leaners aren’t quick to condemn fracking. But from there the only saving is energy reduction. I wonder if Hillary knows this.

M Simon
June 11, 2014 6:36 pm

Patrick says:
June 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm
Well, everything gives you cancer…

And we have a cure for that. Although it is currently Federally illegal. See: Dennis Hill biochemist cancer – or – Dr. Christina Sanchez molecular biologist cancer.
BTW it is a green solution to the cancer problem.

June 11, 2014 6:41 pm


M Simon
June 11, 2014 6:53 pm

Just another Executive power grab by Obama, under the ruse of environmental protection.
The Right has a war on plants in progress with no Federal justification (that would be a Constitutional Amendment). Funny how they don’t seem to notice. Obama is just using the gift the Right gave him.

Steve from Rockwood
June 11, 2014 6:54 pm

neillusion says:
June 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm
Neillusion needs some education on the difference between a wellbore and fracking. When you drill a vertical wellbore to intersect the oil & gas formation the wellbore will pass through the shallow water (aquifer) layer. The wellbore is then flattened to pass along (and within) the formation where several fracks are performed within the producing formation. The well is then cleaned and the oil & gas extraction begins.
A leaking wellbore has nothing to do with fracking. If 5% of wellbores leak then all oil & gas extraction is an issue, not just fracked wells. This is a much greater problem in areas of very shallow oil & gas deposits where water wells “often uncased” are drilled through oil and gas units and the aquifer is contaminated as a result of drilling a water well – not oil & gas exploration.
I’m not sure how long the average wellbore produces but 20-30 years seems like a very long time for tight formations (where fracking is most common). Once the law of diminishing returns takes over a wellbore can be sealed permanently, so leaking is not an issue.
It’s as though Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea took a simple industry statistic and turned it into a false statement. I am not aware of any claims that fracking material has ever entered an aquifer but there are documented cases of leaking wellbores where oil & gas (product) could enter the aquifer at the wellbore leak. Very different things.
Or are you better informed?

M Simon
June 11, 2014 6:55 pm

neillusion says:
June 11, 2014 at 6:41 pm


So you don’t have an answewr to my question. Or was “?” the answer.

June 11, 2014 7:03 pm

Simon, you wrote…Fracking has been done for a very long time (50 years). How come what you claim it is just being noticed?
not sure how to interpret ‘it is just being noticed?’ What did I claim that is just being noticed?

P@ Dolan
June 11, 2014 7:07 pm

@ Patrick says:
June 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm
Love your taste in music—Joe Jackson rocks! Check out “The Harder They Come” from that same show—
@ moliterno59 says:
June 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm
@ TomB says:
June 11, 2014 at 1:00 pm
I too live on a gulag in the PR of MD. Lunacy of the moment is the proposal to build a wind-farm off the coast of NAS PAX River. Duh…..
@ Rud Istvan says:
June 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm
If you want to really influence this policy debate, at least get your high school level chemistry facts straight… …Do not bring a knife to a gunfight. And shoot to kill.

Words to live by, sir! To quote Jerry Pournelle, “Kick their arses, don’t pee on them!” —The Mercenary

M Simon
June 11, 2014 7:11 pm

as with GM foods
All food is GM food. The only question is the process – a highly specific and well tested process or random variation.

June 11, 2014 7:29 pm

@ steve from rockwood,
The professor makes it very clear from the industries own data, that fracking shale for ng has a range of significant problems – best to listen to him than me repeat, basically starts vid 2. thru 10 vid clips on you tube.
I found this very informing and the disinformation exposed is consistent with disinformation techniques of other industries trying to make out their industry is great, cheap, clean, blah blah bs.
take one of your own ‘ the well can be sealed permanently, so leaking is not an issue’
incredibly niaive…

June 11, 2014 8:10 pm

Fracing has been used to stimulate wells since 1947. Well companies first used crude oil and walnut hulls to prop open the frac. The process was very effective in getting past near wellbore damage. As pay zones got tighter and tighter, the fracs got bigger. Water replaced crude and sand replaced walnut hulls. When the wells got very deep they had to change to bauxite because the sand was being crushed. Below 2000′ the fracs are vertical because that is the least principle stress. Above 2000′ they tend to be horizontal. Which makes it hard to get into shallow aquifers.
There are NO examples of a frac entering a fresh water zone that was not meant to be fraced. Why? because no oil company in it’s right mind wants to spend millions of dollars fracing something that has no ROR.
When a well [is] fraced, it starts with a mini-frac to establish the formation parameters. If there is a suspicion that something is wrong, they are not going to frac. Why? they don’t want to waste millions of dollars for no ROR.
CO2 and sometimes N2 are added to the frac to help with flowback recovery. The frac fluid recovered is reused.
There can be acid fracs, but usually in limestone and dolomite formations. Water and sand are what is going to be used on shale and sand. Acid is usually used for near wellbore stimulation. Normally to get past scale that has formed over long periods of production.
If they want to thicken the frac water they use a guar extract. If they are going for a slick water frac, they don’t use guar.
Most women expose themselves to more carcinogens in one application of makeup than they will get from fracing in a lifetime.
The campaign against fracing is nothing more than a drive by shooting by a Michael Moore wanna be. A film made up based on a series of lies.
Just about every well drilled in the continental US these days needs fracing to be economic. To eliminate fracing would destroy the oil and gas industry and put this country in the dark.
We need fracing. And just to remind all of the readers here, the oil companies are not in the habit of wasting money. They are not interested in fracing water zones. If there is no payout, they are not going to do it. This is a very simple concept. Why do so many people have such a problem with it?
[ROR = Rate of Return. Amount of money earned (over time) /amount of money spent (over time) .mod]

June 11, 2014 8:49 pm

How about Shale Bathing?

June 11, 2014 9:12 pm

neillusion says:
June 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm (claiming)
I’m astonished at some of the WUWT comments, so well informed on the CAGW myth, have not informed themselves on the myth that Fracking is environmentally safe.
Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea…

And what makes this Cornell Professor an expert? Who qualified HIS claims and propaganda?

June 11, 2014 9:15 pm

M Simon says:
June 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm (quoting from above)

Just another Executive power grab by Obama, under the ruse of environmental protection.

The Right has a war on plants in progress with no Federal justification (that would be a Constitutional Amendment). Funny how they don’t seem to notice. Obama is just using the gift the Right gave him.

But, the “right” side of this argument is TRYING to increase the very vital CO2 that ALL plants and living things on this planet NEED!!!! It is Obama who is fighting plants!

June 11, 2014 9:18 pm

Oil Recovery Gas Accumulation Security Housing Methods
See? We’re just in favor of increased ORGASHM safety ….

June 11, 2014 10:49 pm

“If drillers can’t extract natural gas without destroying landscapes and endangering the health of families, then we should not drill for natural gas.”
Please, can I use the same argument for not using wind power?

June 11, 2014 11:20 pm

Moose, I agree. CAGW hysteria has driven inappropriate energy policy and many windmills will end up as white elephants on a blighted landscape. There are however, many alternatives to be developed for our long term energy needs such as nuclear fusion.

June 11, 2014 11:30 pm

Moose, I agree. Many windmills will end up as white elephants on a blighted landscape.
CAGW hysteria has resulted in perverse energy/environmental policies and commercial developments – windmills, bio-fuels, carbon trading, eucalyptus carbon sinks displacing indigenous peoples and ancient forests etc.
However, there are a number of potential solutions to our long term energy needs, such as nuclear fusion (which is probably 30 years away from being viable) but we do need to replace fossil fuels not least because they are finite and the their extraction and combustion has many environmental and health downsides. That’s not to denigrate their contribution to our development to date.
Rational debate is in short supply.

June 11, 2014 11:36 pm

M Simon, to suggest all crop development is GM is disingenuous at best. Genetically introducing terminal seeds, herbicides and pesticides into the food chain is attempting to “play god” with the food chain and the perverse consequences. It could, in extremis, wipe out all life on earth. GM companies are trying to gain monopoly power over the food production – do we really want that?

June 11, 2014 11:44 pm

My browser seems to be playing up and posting comments before I get a chance to edit them properly. Last comment should read:
M Simon, to suggest all crop development is GM is disingenuous at best. Genetically introducing terminal seeds, herbicides and pesticides into the food chain is attempting to “play god” with the food chain and will give rise to perverse consequences. It could, in extremis, wipe out all life on earth. GM companies are trying to gain monopoly power over the food production – do we really want that?

Man Bearpig
June 12, 2014 12:33 am

If there are not enough people in poverty, then the left would not have enough people to vote for them. If everyone was taken out of poverty there would be no need for left wing politics.
How do they perpetuate poverty? By making energy more expensive, food more expensive, rents, and basically make everything too expensive for those in poverty to create division.

Steve from Rockwood
June 12, 2014 5:25 am

neillusion says:
June 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm
I’m astonished at some of the WUWT comments, so well informed on the CAGW myth, have not informed themselves on the myth that Fracking is environmentally safe.
Neillusion, I just watched the entire 9 minute video. It has NOTHING to do with FRACKING. In fact, fracking isn’t even mentioned anywhere in the entire video. The video deals with gas migration along the [wellbore] due to incomplete cementing which, as he readily admits, is well known problem. If you don’t know the difference between fracking and cementing you shouldn’t accuse people of not being informed (or of being naive).
Also, in the video, the prof shows a graph of methane (vertical axis) in water wells versus distance from wellbore (horizontal axis) for water wells located near oil & gas producing wells which seems to show an increase in methane concentration to possible dangerous levels for water wells located within 1 km of a drilled wellbore. The problem with this graph is it does not indicate what the methane levels were prior to drilling of the wellbores – that is THE NATURAL METHANE LEVELS. In other words, you are expected to assume that all water wells had no anomalous methane concentrations prior to oil & gas exploration even if they were located adjacent to an oil & gas formation. This is a known false hypothesis as the professor even admits in the video. Water wells located closer to areas of oil & gas accumulation are known to have higher natural levels of methane, levels that can be dangerous in some cases (this the professor does not address and shame on him for leaving it out).
The professors tone during the entire presentation is not very professional – he strikes me more as a slick Greenpeace presenter than an academic simply relaying the facts. His misleading presentation is a testament to that. Grow some skepticism and don’t believe everything you watch on you tube.

June 12, 2014 6:54 am

All this talk about NG and very little discussion of LNG (liquid). Long haul large trucks need LNG, not compressed NG. Public LNG fuel lanes are slowly opening from Los Angeles to Jacksonville. UPS plans to have almost 1000 LNG trucks on the road by the end of 2014. Lowe’s has started migrating their dedicated fleets to LNG. One Lowe’s dedicated fleet in Texas was migrated last fall. They plan to have all dedicated fleets migrated by the end of 2017. From a pollution perspective moving away from diesel to LNG seems like a great thing and the chicken and egg problem seems to being solved as we speak. I think it’s great.

June 12, 2014 7:33 am

gregfreemyer says:
There are no LNG retail/commercial outlets in Texas or US, They are all compressed NG. These outlets to dispense NG use three stage compressor systems up to 8000 PSI for what is considered a full tank. The rest of your comment is correct. Many long haul trucks are moving freight in Texas. The conversions are increasing exponentially

June 12, 2014 7:37 am

“Can anybody think of a better name?”
“Gaia toot-lavage”, maybe?

June 12, 2014 7:58 am
Reply to  dipchip
June 12, 2014 6:42 pm

No public LNG fuel lanes in the US?
Is the press mis-reporting. Here’s one example:
If you look at this vidoe, you see mostly references to natural gas, but 2 or 3 places say LNG.
Several of Clean Energy’s press releases talk about LNG.
Here’s a quote from the May 6 press release:

UPS Continues Largest Deployment of Heavy-Duty Natural Gas Trucks in the United States with Additional LNG and CNG Trucks
10 additional LNG trucks will begin fueling at Clean Energy’s Jacksonville, Fla., station and are forecasted to consume approximately 246,000 DGEs of LNG annually.
5 additional heavy-duty CNG trucks will begin fueling at Clean Energy’s station in downtown Los Angeles, Calif. The trucks are forecasted to consume approximately 96,000 DGEs of CNG annually.

Note they are differentiating between LNG and CNG and they are saying it is 10 additional LNG trucks.

S.C. Schwarz
June 12, 2014 8:41 am

You are way too optimistic if you think the war is “won.” The greens opposite the modern industrial economy in every way. Sensibly they are focusing first on a relatively soft target, coal. But they oppose oil, natural gas, hydro and nuclear too, and they will get to those. And now that the USEPA has the power to regulate CO2 there is nothing that can be done.
Encourage your grandkids to learn Mandarin. The Chinese will need servants when they take over.

June 12, 2014 9:38 am

After reading through the comments, there are very few that even have a conversational familiarity with the process. I have designed and performed hydraulic fracturing operations since 1980( I refuse to use fracturing as it was adopted from an old Scifi series as the euphemism for another word that begins with f and ends with K) . To correct a few errors-very few hydraulic fracturing jobs exceed 6000 psi. Those that do must be done down an isolated tubing string(removable tube) since the casing (permanently cemented tube) pressure capacity is seldom more than 10,000 psi. There is acid fracturing, but it is generally hydrochloric acid, not hydrofluoric which has limited applications in stimulation and is seldom injected at high pressure. The size of the proppant is the size of sand grains and I am not aware where any pea size grains were used and doubt whether it would be possible. The production of shale gas has historically required natural gas wellhead prices of at least $6/mmbtu. This is because a truly “shale gas” well will decline by 90% from initial rate during the 1st year and produce the resulting minor 10% volume for a very long time. Due to the enormous expense of the wells, if payout does not occur in the first year it will likely never payout.. The “truly shale” comment is because in order to attract capital no producer wants to admit that the actual production may be coming from associated sands or carbonates that are abutting a shale if one sees a well that does not decline @90% the first year. Unless Anthony wants a full description the discussions of the physics of fluid flow through porous media would take a while.
Finally the only way that hydraulic fracturing fluids could enter into a fresh water aquifer in a well being stimulated would be through a catastrophic failure of at least two high strength steel casings and cement failures. The pressures at the surface are continuously observed and a sudden catastrophic change will indicate this type of failure. Since I am spending $1,000,0000 in order to put the treatment in a particular spot, if it goes somewhere else I have wasted the money. Therefore it takes me less than 30 seconds to shut down the job, so even if I have a failure very little if any fracturing fluid will enter a fresh water horizon. Then the pressure is rapidly relieved by flowing back as rapidly as possible to avoid the costly process of bailing out the proppant in the wellbore. If I communicate with a dynamic aquifer then any fluid is flowed back out. This process assures proper placement and is not due to any altruistic motive to save the aquifer, but to do the best job to produce gas and make money. The “glue heads that have gone organic” should take solace in the fact that this position is completely compatible with avoiding “contamination”.

Gunga Din
June 12, 2014 9:40 am

mike says:
June 12, 2014 at 7:37 am
“Can anybody think of a better name?”
“Gaia toot-lavage”, maybe?

Gaia on crack?

June 12, 2014 10:56 am

“More troubling would have been PETA, as they’d force a ceasing of using animals for farming and transportation. That’d knock civilization down a notch.”
Living out of the country for awhile, I seem to be behind on the current cultural references. Last week, visiting my daughter in San Francisco, I saw a bumper sticker on her wall that said:
PETA – [People] Eating Tasty Animals
Makes sense to me – as long as they aren’t doing farm labor…

June 12, 2014 10:59 am

Think before pushing button…
People Eating Tasty Animals
Damn you predictive spellchecker…

June 12, 2014 11:28 am

My dad was Chief Petroleum Engineer for this field between 1976 and 1980, and designed the fracking operations there (all vertical at the time). During that period I worked with fracking crews every summer, Christmas, and spring break. I never saw any violence during that time, although my supervisor did once threaten to wipe a booger on me it I didn’t shut up.

June 12, 2014 11:31 am

Hey, and today would have been his 86th birthday! But he only made it to 81.

Brian R
June 12, 2014 12:00 pm

How do you determine who is giving out disinformation? It seems you are working off the premise that fracking is bad, so anybody that says fracking is back must be telling the truth. While anybody that says fracking is not bad must be giving disinformation.

Curtis Beck
June 12, 2014 1:23 pm

ZoeyPointFive that is so clever: “Anthropocentric Bedrock Change”! I wish you could copyright that one.

Ryan S.
June 12, 2014 3:02 pm

Thank you William Jackson.
The oil companies have nothing to hide. Up here in the great-white-north, every additive, chemical and process, used in fracturing, has been publicly disclosed for several decades.
This is the primary communication issue with the whole fracking “debate.” Anyone who thinks it is possible for fracking to “contaminate groundwater” or “cause cancer,” is so monumentally ignorant that it’s impossible to engage in a conversation with them. Where do you start? Poison’s ratio? Young’s Modulus? geological time? target depth? redundant casing strings? Permeability? Perforations? etc etc…
A perfect analogy, in my mind, is how I explain to my 3 year old that monsters aren’t real. He’s working on the whole real vs imaginary thing, but he’s scared of them. I can’t seem to convince him that there is nothing to worry about though.

June 13, 2014 6:17 am

But national meetings about LNG and CNG fleets reports disappointing economic value:
Economics of natural gas don’t always add up for fleets
Fuel Fix ^ | June 12, 2014 | Ryan Holeywell
Though natural gas is abundant in the U.S., whether it can serve as a financially viable transportation fuel is a difficult question to answer.
Commercial fleet operators from across the country this week are in Houston discussing the economics of natural gas, which often is touted as a less expensive, cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline.
But industry officials at the Natural Gas Vehicles USA conference say despite their hopes for natural gas, converting fleets to run on the fuel isn’t always easy. Though the fuel has its advantages, the finances of making it work for fleets don’t always add up.
“There needs to be some changes in the cost model,” said Bill Bliem, senior vice president of fleet services at NFI Industries, a New Jersey-based logistics company. “Right now, we’re doing it solely for sustainability. We’re not saving any money. I’m glad to hear we’re not the only one struggling with fuel mileage.”
Bliem said his company has about 2,000 trailers on the road, including nearly 30 that run on compressed or liquefied natural gas. But given the huge expense of natural gas vehicle infrastructure, trucks have to put on a lot of mileage to achieve substantial savings over gasoline or diesel.
NFI trucks serving California, for example, aren’t driving enough miles to compensate for the higher cost of the vehicles. Meanwhile, the company is getting about 9 percent less fuel economy with natural gas than it initially expected when it was calculating whether to invest in the technology, Bliem said.
Indeed, natural gas experts say that while savings from compressed natural gas eventually add up, they might not happen as quickly as some might hope.
“The payback around CNG is challenging,” said Brad Hoffelt, senior vice president and general manager of products and services at GE Capital. “It’s challenging just on the vehicle infrastructure, and if you provide fueling infrastructure as well, it’s particularly challenging.”
As Hoffelt describes it, most fleet customers will only consider switching to alternative fuels if they believe they can save money by doing so. For most, the environmental benefits are “generally a small part of the discussion.”
That’s because of the big expense that comes with building a CNG fueling station. Stations that can dispense natural gas as quickly as a typical gasoline station can cost $700,000 to $1 million to build and generally need to support a fleet of at least 150 trucks in order to make financial sense, he said. Slow fill stations, which fuel trucks overnight, cost around $300,000 to build.
Those costs put fleet operators in a bind. Generally, they prefer to have their own fueling stations so they don’t pay markup on fuel. But building a private station is pricey, and it can take a long time for the investment to pay off.
“It’s not really a question of whether it will pay back,” Hoffelt said. “The CNG investment will pay back over time. But some people think two years is too long, and some people think five to seven years is adequate.”
Even companies that have embraced the technology on a wide scale concede there are challenges and the technology may not be right for everyone.
Dennis Beal, vice president of global vehicles for FedEx Express, said trucks that run of natural gas cost 50 percent to 80 percent more than their gasoline and diesel counterparts.
“If you’re an independent operator, and you’ve got to spend 50 to 80 percent more to acquire a vehicle … the return on investment isn’t quite the same as it is for a corporation,” he said.
He added that public fueling infrastructure for natural gas is lacking, forcing the shipping industry into a chicken-and-the-egg dilemma. As it stands today, there are fewer than 1,400 public and private stations dispensing natural gas nationwide, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, compared to an estimated 157,000 gas stations. He said FedEx, which mostly relies on public fueling stations for its fleet, will only utilize CNG trucks in cities where it’s identified plenty of options for fueling.

Reply to  RACookPE1978
June 13, 2014 7:11 am

That is a very pessimistic write-up. CNG trucks are already capturing about 50% of new garbage/refuse truck sales overall in the USA. Many metro bus fleets converted a decade plus ago to CNG. Atlanta implemented CNG buses almost 20 years ago (for the 1996 Olympics) The UPS delivery trucks I see daily are CNG powered. Kroger is in the middle of buying CNG delivery trucks.
The main trouble with CNG is that it is typically used with overnight (slow-fill) fueling. That doesn’t work well for public fuel stations. Instead a private fueling operation has to be built where the vehicles are parked each night. So yes, as long as FedEx wants to continue using public fueling options, CNG won’t likely make sense.
In addition overnight fueling is not practical for long distance trucks. They need a relatively rapid fueling option like diesel. LNG provides that and from what I can tell from the press releases, public LNG fuel lanes are opening now. Lowe’s and UPS being 2 of the biggest customers for the moment, but as I read it they are triggering the opening of public LNG fuel lanes one at a time. As more and more open, it makes it feasible for smaller operators to use the same fuel lanes..
UPS has said they plan to have almost 1,000 LNG trucks on the road by the end of 2014.
As I suggested before, one place to read about successful roll-outs is the Clean Energy press releases: http://investors.cleanenergyfuels.com/releases.cfm
Admittedly, for now public fuel lanes are opening one at a time and each one or two seems worthy of a press release. The good news is the chicken and egg issue is slowly resolving itself as the LNG option is starting to be embraced by regional trucking operations that can manage to operate with a single LNG fuel center for their regional operations. ie. think of a spoke and hub distribution center. Putting a LNG station close to the warehouse is enough to let the trucks servicing that warehouse convert to LNG. That sort of thing is what Lowe’s is doing now.

P@ Dolan
Reply to  RACookPE1978
June 13, 2014 7:41 am

@ RACookPE1978 says:
June 13, 2014 at 6:17 am
Ya DO know that you’re draggin’ your feet on this, right? Where were you with comments of doubt like this about the Prius and other gasoline-electric hybrids that have to be subsidized by a large fraction of their selling cost before people can afford them? They only thing those hybrids and pure electric cars do is shift WHERE the pollution is generated. Not how much, since they’re responsible for the creation of MORE pollution, when the entire chain of their manufacture, use and maintenance is taken into account (demonstrated so many times over the years I won’t bore you with it again).
Since the Obama Administration seems to be of the opinion that they can force everyone to use electric or hybrids and then, since they won’t be in competition with the more efficient gasoline powered vehicles anymore, economy of scale and monopoly effects will kick in, and prices will stabilize on personal vehicles and use and people will adjust, or simply travel much less by anything other than mag-lev rail (run by AMTRAK, of course, at hideous expense to the taxpayer. And never mind that mag-lev rail-lines don’t exist; wishing-will-make-it-so seems to be the approach of this administration)(and most Greens and ALL CAGW prophets of doom).
But if we support the sale of Prius and other hybrids, then we should not oppose, nay, should be pushing for the government to mandate a shift from gasoline to LNG, and after everyone is converted and there ARE no more gasoline powered automobiles, economies of scale will kick in and we’ll have a lot less pollution and everyone will be happy, right?
Or we could all just ride our unicorns.
And I don’t see that the article says the economic value is disappointing:

“It’s not really a question of whether it will pay back,” Hoffelt said. “The CNG investment will pay back over time. But some people think two years is too long, and some people think five to seven years is adequate.”

What they’re all saying, as I read it, is that there are challenges, but they’re toughing it out and staying optimistic. Contrast this situation to windfarms, or solar power, or subsidies for hybrid-electric cars, and then let’s talk about “economic disappointment”.

June 13, 2014 8:02 am

Why do you think I am in favor of any of those subsidies (for government-paid electric car plug-in stands, for the Volts or Tesla’s or Solyndra’s or the wind mills or the corn oil to fuel or today’s latest “fads” in get-me-a-grant research using fill-in-the-blank-CAGW-funded billions each month?
Where was I when these subsidies began? Opposing them in 1970’s – the 1980’s, the 1990’s , in 2002, 03, 04 ….
Classic rate-of-return financial analysis uses a 10 year period for at least a 10% growth requirement. These do not meet that minimum by any means.

P@ Dolan
Reply to  RACookPE1978
June 13, 2014 4:44 pm

@ RACookPE1978 says:
June 13, 2014 at 8:02 am
My apologies if I sound accusatory—but I’m confused by your attachment of the article, and your presentation, which makes it appear that you disapprove of LNG or CNG as fuel. I agree that CNG appears the more difficult and expensive in the short term, though the easier to use: it was in use in the ACT when I lived in Australia from 2000-2003, while LNG was still simply a format for transport.
The reason I am scornful of hybrids is that it is impossible, on the face of it, for them to be more efficient than burning ANY hydrocarbon, as far as I can tell. We cannot mine or drill for electricity, and the only direct methods of generation are solar cell (terribly inefficient at present, and not showing signs of improving significantly any time soon) hydro-electric (limited by geography) and wind (don’t think we need to go into that).
Now I’m just a dumb old sailor, but I’m a US Navy trained Electronics Technician. With hybrids, you lose two ways: thermal losses and hysteresis while charging, and the same on the way out. A hybrid gains somewhat in that breaking is going to be lost power regardless, so it’s a sunk cost. But battery technology isn’t efficient enough to make the partial recovery of sunk costs a large enough gain to be worth it.
Burning LNG (let’s just focus on that, as it’s where we want to be, rather than CNG) is more efficient because the energy is directly used from the burning; no thermal or hysteresis losses for charging and discharging batteries, no losses creating the batteries. Less pollution than burning gasoline, and I won’t even bother to talk about the waste that is “biofuel”.
Infrastructure capital costs: large, yes. But so were those when going from a coach-and-four to a Tin Lizzy. And it’s not complete expense, it’s an investment, if it catches on and enough people use it to make economy of scale work.
Think of the early days of Beta and VHS, 30 years ago. Marketplace competition at work. There is no question in my mind that LNG can be made to work, without the hideous subsidies required by hybrids, while generating less pollution, at an efficiency that is acceptible if not yet as efficient as the much maligned burning of gasoline.
If I sound a false note here, please let me know.
I’m interested to learn that you opposed the nonsense for so long. I did not, because I wasn’t aware of what was going on while I was serving overseas for so long, so you’re one or two up on me there.
I don’t believe anyone who thinks about it seriously can be in favor of any of the subsidies. As I said, in Japan, hybrids are a necessary evil to reduce smog—it’s a cost they’re willing to pay to reduce a grave health hazard. We have no such need here in the US, and people who drive hybrids are dupes.
Again, apologies if I appeared to be casting aspersions, but I failed to any correlation between your statement:

But national meetings about LNG and CNG fleets reports disappointing economic value

and what I got from the article that reflected that you had a positive opinion about LNG as a worthwhile energy source for which to drill.
If the Federal Government in the US would lose their fear of another “oil crisis” like those of ’73 and ’78, the US could become the largest exporter of energy, and do away with the DoE completely, AND end Russia’s stranglehold on the EU, after they so naively put their neck in his noose.
The current economic malaise in the world is, at its root, because governments everywhere are passing legislation—primarily because of CAGW nonsense, but that’s not the only reason or even the one with the worst impact—that inhibits expanding energy production, transport, or use. These policies have made food more expensive because of fuel costs and the nonsense of “biofuels” while jacking up taxes everywhere to support lunacy like “biofuels” and hybrids. While I cannot myself point to a single study which proves that yes, these policies have killed X number of individuals or name them, anything which increases the costs of fuel and food will have a very negative impact on public health in poor nations at the very least. To say nothing of the warfare to gain control over the little that there is in such places.
Not to go off on a too-excessively long diatribe of a polemic, I’m in favor of drilling, and the use and export of both CNG and LNG. I’m against “biofuels” and hybrids—I’d say both are placebos for those brainwashed green, but placebos do no harm.
In any case, apologies if I gave offense. It was unintended, and I misunderstood your point.

June 13, 2014 3:38 pm

I’m new to “frakking” – and any references to “earthquakes” and “frakking” brings up Greenpease as an “authority” – please post any, preferably scholarly … thanks.

P@ Dolan
June 13, 2014 4:55 pm

@ Brian says:
June 13, 2014 at 3:38 pm
Just a quick example of what you can find on scholar.google.com
I’m not vouching for either of the two I list, but they should give detailed information more of the sort you’re asking for—certainly more reliable than anything you’ll get from Greenpeace or the like. Hope that helps.

June 14, 2014 11:23 am

I find the tone and structure of this rant very disturbing. The logic is similar to “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” – if “environmentalist groups” are against something, it must be good for us.
And now the EPA suddenly is cited as a credible scientific authority?? Hello!!
Would you like some FDA with that?
Of course the misgivings of the governments of Germany and France (strangely, Canada, your nearest neighbour was omitted from this list of doubting Thomases) only reinforces the safety of fracking when the wells are “properly designed” (and constructed, and maintained, one would hope). Never mind the EPA’s dismal history in preventing or cleaning up other toxic pollutants, from the Love Canal, through Libby, MT’s asbestos, to Rocky Mountain Flats, etc., etc..
The “almost unanimous” opposition of “environmental groups” (only “groups”?) seems to have become your litmus test for environmental safety. Who needs science? I believe you have contracted the zealotry disease yourself.
I belong to no “environmental group” and was booted out of the only one I belonged to decades ago for insisting on informational integrity (as opposed to propaganda). Nor would most people consider me particularly “environmental”. But I do care about my health and those of my neighbours, and I have been following the fracking debate and reading what little credible information I could access.
And, as it happens, I was considering buying some property in Quebec near the Utica Shale field. But uncertainty as to whether the newly elected government in Quebec will maintain the five year fracking moratorium in effect until 2018, has dampened my interest.

June 19, 2014 8:11 pm

Another data point about LNG getting through the chicken and the egg stage. Apparently there are now enough public LNG fuel stations for LNG trucks to make it from Los Angeles to Houston:
That is the first true long distance route I’m aware of that LNG trucks can take. Everything I knew of before this addressed regional needs.
So it looks like the good news about the rollout of LNG for large trucks just keeps rolling in.

June 20, 2014 4:13 am

I forgot to add that Shell opened a LNG fuel lane near I-10 in the LA area last month:http://www.fleetsandfuels.com/fuels/ngvs/2014/05/shell-opens-its-first-u-s-lng-lanes/
It was Shell’s first LNG station.

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