Eat Your Natural Gas

Spinach, the oft-detested power vegetable, abhorred by children as a universal truth.  And yet, studies tout the benefits of a diet rich in this vitamin-intense leafy green.

Consider the similarities to natural gas-skeptics worldwide doubt its ability to enrich the lives of our global community and even more so, the ability to recover it safely and in a cost-effective manner. And yet, if governments will lead by example and promote the resource (a la Popeye), we might be able to encourage countries to try something new.

Just as a parent that eats his veggies without complaint encourages a child to do the same, Congress might also promote the fuel, by discontinuing the use of coal-fired power plants and in the creation of new tax incentives for the use of natural gas.

This week in Fuelfix, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) defended previous statements that predicted expanding shale gas resources in the U.S., and were critical of a June 26 New York Times article that cautioned against. This is not the first time the New York Times has biased coverage against the oil and gas industry. (We have yet to see a solid article with two points of view, much less a point of view other than one against the energy industry.)

“I believe EIA is doing a solid job of effectively tracking the emergence of shale gas in the U.S. energy system and thoughtfully reflecting that in our projections,” said Howard Gruenspecht, acting administrator of the EIA. “We’re very comfortable with where we are. We’ve seen nothing in the New York Times report that would cause us to change our view.”

With the world demanding more and more energy every day, it’s time to respond with the technologies such as those that MicroSeismic has developed. These and other technological advancements take the fear out of fracing, ensuring that both people and the environment are safe. It’s time to step up, and have a heaping plateful of natural gas."

Just the Facts, Ma'am

By: Peter M. Duncan

This week Amy Mall, of the Natural Resources Defense Council, blogged about the extraordinarily high number of violations (47) on 33 of the Marcellus wells. Nowhere in her post, nor in the article she cites from the Scranton Times-Tribune, does it say what those violations are.

Were chemicals spewing wildly into the ground? Was gas causing people on the street to choke? Or (more likely), was the reams long permitting paperwork filed incorrectly? Or perhaps all of the “t’s”, which no one can keep track of at the rate the Obama administration continues to change them, were not crossed satisfactorily. We just don’t know, no one reports on those insignificant details-the horrific number of 47 violations makes far better blog fodder.

Another nugget Amy neglected to mention is the unbelievably accurate technology in place to make fracing a safe and environmentally conscious process, such as monitoring wells with microseismic technology. She further asks what “incentives” are in place to encourage workers to “do the right things”. I guess employment would be the biggest-the Marcellus Shale has employed numbers well into the thousands-that doesn’t even take into account the resulting infrastructure benefits that domino as a result of those employments.  Nor does it take into account the thousands that could be employed should New York end their drilling moratorium.

I encourage Amy to speak further with me about the fracing technology Microseismic offers. Any time she is interested I’d be happy to show it to her, but she may be disappointed, there won’t be much to write about.  Unless of course she wants to write about all of the positive that comes with using our natural resources.

Southern Louisiana jobs on hold until more leases issued in the Gulf of Mexico

Houston Chronicle columnist Loren Steffy’s blog post about the dismal state of economic affairs in Louisiana highlights the dire situation this area is facing now and for months into the foreseeable future.

The moratorium on drilling has caused local businesses to continue to cut back on employees, as business lags.  Even though the moratorium was lifted last fall, only a handful of permits have been granted and companies continue to wait. The current unemployment rate in Southern Louisiana of 5.8% is up from 4.9% in the last year, indicating that the economy is in fact getting worse, not better.

The current “hurry up and wait” scenario smacks of the Marcellus Shale moratorium, where upstate New Yorkers stand to see as much as $11.4 billion in economic investment by 2020, in addition to 15-18,000 new jobs if and when the current moratorium preventing drilling is lifted.

Before the Macondo blowout last year, 58,375 wells were safely drilled over the last 60 years in the Gulf of Mexico.  Of those, over 3,100 of them were in deep water. It seems illogical at best to declare such stringent boycotts on this dearly needed infrastructure; deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accounts for 30% of all U.S. crude oil production, considering the incident was a once in nearly 60,000 occurrence.

Steffy’s blog quoted David Rabalais, executive director of Terrebonne Port (the local port authority) as saying, "Unless they start issuing about 15 permits a month, this area's going to hurt, there's a lot of concern, there's a lot of scared people, and there's a lot of companies that aren't doing anything right now because they don't know what the future's going to hold."

Many companies are (justly) concerned that business might never come back and residents are perhaps more so concerned that neither will their way of living.

Common Sense? We Disagree.

“It is outrageous that the Republican majority opposed our common-sense effort to ensure members of federal advisory boards are unbiased and without conflicts of interest,” claims Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

House Republicans are standing strong in proposing considerable industry representation on a federal advisory panel reviewing hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing entails pumping a mixture of water, sand, and small amount of chemicals underground to break apart the rock to release the natural gas.

The main concern of House Republicans focuses on representing the industry adequately.  Panel members that work in the industry have knowledge and experience with all that encompasses hydraulic fracturing. This ensures that appropriate decisions will be made concerning the future of extracting natural gas.

“In order to strengthen these partnerships and industry support for any subsequent recommendations, no less than one-third of panel members should be industry representatives who actively work in the natural-gas industry,” says the report of House Appropriations Committee views.

However, a Democratic amendment attempted to halt the report language, claiming that a panel containing increased industry representation will only result in biased decisions.

An increased amount of industry members with a plethora of knowledge and experience will result in paramount decisions and sound environmental preservation.

You can read the related article here: http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/166799-gop-demands-major-industry-voice-on-federal-gas-fracking-panel.

Fox Rebuttal

As an avid subscriber to Michael Binnion’s blog, I was pleased to read his most recent post, “I Am Shocked”, which alluded to the spiraling crash and burn of Josh Fox, the director of Gasland, and his poorly vetted documentary. Was I shocked? Absolutely not. In 2010, I reached out to Josh and offered him an inside look at how we at MicroSeismic monitor fracing and are able to determine where the fracs are and where they aren’t, notably not anywhere near the aquifer, and he declined.  I found this surprising, since one would assume that most documentary directors would be hungry for any specific research on the topic of his current project.  For all he knew, his theories were right, and whatever information I offered to him could’ve been used against the evil oil and gas industry.

While YouTube and Vimeo have removed Gasland due to the legal scrutiny it’s recently fallen under, I regretfully decline to repost the link here-I’m not one to promote lies. Documentary? Perhaps Mockumentary is a more fitting category.

For the real truth, I encourage you to visit Questerre and Energy in Depth, for starters.

Peter Duncan, President, MSI

Passive Seismic Monitoring Can Help Make Offshore Drilling Safer

The National Commission looking into the Deepwater Horizon spill has just issued its  report, and it clearly points to new regulations and safety measures, as yet unspecified, to prevent a repeat.

Here is one suggestion the industry and the regulators should consider: use passive, microseismic technology to provide continuous, real-time monitoring of offshore wells and facilities.

Microseismic array systems can be permanently installed on the seabed to capture data during both the well construction phase and during production – data on seismic events, pressure and stress changes and changes in the reservoir as the hydrocarbons are removed.

With passive, microseismic, operators can detect upsets at or near the borehole, or in pipelines and facilities, in real time. And in time to act before they become catastrophic. This would dramatically increase the long-term safety and reliability of their operations as well as help them optimize production.

Microseismic monitoring is a proven technology that is available today to provide an early warning system. Operators and regulators should consider it as part of the new regulatory structure that is taking shape.

Future of Seismic

There are many ways geophysical technology can and will support the development of viable alternative energy sources. For example, Geoscientists are currently mapping hydrothermal energy resources and building geothermal systems where heat exchange chambers are created in the sub-surface for harvesting the earth’s heat.

Co2 sequestration is another important area that can be impacted by mapping reservoirs for placement of Co2 and then monitoring it to ensure it stays in the ground.

Also as the earth’s population grows and clean water becomes scarce, geophysics will be a principle tool for locating and estimating fresh water reserves.

The science of Geophysics is improving and changing constantly and as it improves it will no doubt improve the way that we are able to apply the latest technology to help energy companies produce oil, gas and other natural resources for the benefit of the global community.

Energy In Depth Debunks Gasland

Josh Fox made his mainstream debut with documentary Gasland, targeting hydraulic fracturing in natural gas plays – but how much of it is actually true? On Energy InDepth’s website, Fox’s documentary has been put to the test and ultimately, Gasland has received an “A” for inventiveness but an “F” for facts.  Fox sought to show the world how fracking harms the environment, but how much of his film was true?  Not much.  The website breaks down minute by minute where Fox either didn’t know the facts or purposely distorted them. With the numerous amounts of “corrections” that Energyindepth.org made to Fox’s documentary, the one that remains a favorite is “Flat-Out Making Stuff Up.”  In his documentary, Fox claims, “In 2004, the EPA was investigating a water contamination incident due to hydraulic fracturing in Alabama. But a panel rejected the inquiry, stating that although hazard materials were being injected underground, EPA did not need to investigate.”  Perhaps he did not realize that EPA investigations can be looked up and verified.  He goes on to say which animals have become endangered as a result of trucks driving to and from a gas field in Wyoming.  Energyindepth.org proves him wrong, not once, but four times on that particular subject.

Based on quotes from Gasland, it appears that he has more of a political agenda than an environmental one.  For the entire article, visit, http://www.energyindepth.org/2010/06/debunking-gasland/.

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