Friday, October 5, 2012

Dimock Fracking Battle Unwisely Continues

Hopes that a recent settlement of some of the litigation concerning gas migration at Dimock would close this chapter of the fracking wars have proven foolish.

Two recent articles capture the never-ending battle over what happened at Dimock. and

At the outset, the Bloomberg article suggests, probably accidentally, that hydraulic fracturing, as distinguished from errors in the gas drilling phase, is linked to gas migration.  Then the bulk of the piece focuses on whether Marcellus Shale gas itself migrated.

DEP's isotopic testing found that the gas that migrated was not Marcellus shale gas but thermogenic gas from a shallower formation--the Middle and Upper Devonian.  DEP also documented high pressure readings at gas wells, certain design features, and other operational facts that supported conclusions that mistakes in the gas drilling phase caused gas from the Middle and Upper Devonian formations to migrate to 18 water wells. By December 2010, 14 of those 18 water wells had readings below the methane action level and that indicated efforts to stop the migration were working.

Bloomberg does end the piece by quoting Fred Baldassare, an expert on gas migration and isotopic analysis, who led the Pennsylvania DEP analysis in 2010 and who now is in the private sector.  Fred says: "The molecular and isotopic evidence that I saw was that the gas in the water supply looked like the gas in the Cabot wells.  It's doing more damage than good to keep denying that connection. Let's get past that."

Wise advice.

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