Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist

Discovering Global Environmental Interconnections

Posts Tagged ‘fracking

Gas Leaks from Fracking Accelerate Global Warming

with 4 comments

UPDATE Jan 2013:

Yet another study reveals fracking has a huge problem of gas leaks. Up to  9% of the gas pumped out of the ground leaks into the atmosphere according to a study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published in Nature  Jan 3, 2013. Natural gas (methane) is a powerful greenhouse gas. If these leaks are widespread, fracking is worse than burning coal accelerating global warming.

In Jan 2012 I detailed new research showing that replacing coal with natural gas from fracking does little to fight climate change (see below). Two studies published in the months after that made an even stronger case that fracking for natural gas is very likely a HUGE MISTAKE:

From Nature: Air sampling reveals high emissions from gas field. Methane leaks during production may offset climate benefits of natural gas.

From Environmental Research Letters: New study demonstrates switching to natural gas is the path to climate disaster. What’s needed is an aggressive deployment of zero-carbon technologies and conservation. 

– Stephen

 

Shale Gas Worse Than Coal Study Finds

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 24, 2012 (IPS)

Hundreds of thousands of shale gas wells are being “fracked” in the United States and Canada, allowing large amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, to escape into the atmosphere, new studies have shown.

Shale gas production results in 40 to 60 percent more global warming emissions than conventional gas, said Robert Howarth of Cornell University in New York State.

“Shale gas also has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than oil or coal over the short term,” said Howarth, co-author of a study called “Venting and Leaking of Methane from Shale Gas Development” to be published in the journal Climatic Change.

Read the rest of this entry »

leave a comment »

Stephen:

My recent articles only touch on some of the significant problems with fracking. There’s more to come. (And check out trailer for the new fracking movie starring Matt Damon http://bit.ly/TC8qNB) —  Stephen

Originally posted on Stephen Leahy, International Environmental Journalist:

UPDATE Jan 2013:

Yet another study reveals fracking has a huge problem of gas leaks. Up to  9% of the gas pumped out of the ground leaks into the atmosphere according to a study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published in Nature this week. Natural gas (methane) is a powerful greenhouse gas. If these leaks are widespread, fracking is worse than burning coal, accelerating global warming.

In Jan 2012 I detailed new research in the article below showing that replacing coal with natural gas from fracking does little to fight climate change (see below). Now two studies published that since then make an even stronger case that fracking for natural gas is a HUGE MISTAKE:

From Nature: Air sampling reveals high emissions from gas field. Methane leaks during production may offset climate benefits of natural gas.

From Environmental Research Letters: New study demonstrates switching to natural…

View original 1,150 more words

Fracking and Shale Gas Accelerating Global Warming

with 8 comments

UPDATE Jan 2013:

Yet another study reveals fracking has a huge problem of gas leaks. Up to  9% of the gas pumped out of the ground leaks into the atmosphere according to a study by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published in Nature this week. Natural gas (methane) is a powerful greenhouse gas. If these leaks are widespread, fracking is worse than burning coal, accelerating global warming.

In Jan 2012 I detailed new research in the article below showing that replacing coal with natural gas from fracking does little to fight climate change (see below). Now two studies published that since then make an even stronger case that fracking for natural gas is a HUGE MISTAKE:

From Nature: Air sampling reveals high emissions from gas field. Methane leaks during production may offset climate benefits of natural gas.

From Environmental Research Letters: New study demonstrates switching to natural gas is the path to climate disaster. What’s needed is an aggressive deployment of zero-carbon technologies and conservation. Joe Romm explains. — Stephen

Shale Gas Worse Than Coal Study Finds

By Stephen Leahy

UXBRIDGE, Canada, Jan 24, 2012 (IPS)

Hundreds of thousands of shale gas wells are being “fracked” in the United States and Canada, allowing large amounts of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas, to escape into the atmosphere, new studies have shown.

Shale gas production results in 40 to 60 percent more global warming emissions than conventional gas, said Robert Howarth of Cornell University in New York State.

“Shale gas also has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than oil or coal over the short term,” said Howarth, co-author of a study called “Venting and Leaking of Methane from Shale Gas Development” to be published in the journal Climatic Change.

(Audio of news conference)http://ofnewsconference

This latest study follows up on Howarth and colleagues’ controversial April 2011 paper that provided the first comprehensive analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing. That study found that when gas wells are “fracked”, they leak large amounts of methane and pose a significant threat to the global climate.

“We stand by the conclusion of our 2011 research,” said Howarth.

That research undercuts the logic of energy sector claims that shale gas is a “bridge” to a low-carbon energy future. Those claims are based on the fact that natural gas (which is mainly methane) has half the carbon content of coal, and when burned for electricity it is more energy efficient than coal.

This independent  journalism depends on public support. Click here learn more.

However, those climate gains are more than negated by methane leaks both at the well during the fracking process (called flow-back), and through the gas delivery and distribution system. Howarth and colleagues estimate that between 3.6 and 7.9 percent of all shale gas produced leaks – called “fugitive emissions” – into the atmosphere, making it worse than burning coal or oil.

Please throw something in the tip jar before reading on.
This is how I make my living.

Read the rest of this entry »

“Fracking” for Shale Gas: The Bridge to Global Warming Disaster

with 9 comments

Switching from coal to gas can increase global warming – NCAR

[UPDATE JAN 20 2012: New study published in journal Climatic Change shows large volumes of methane released during fracking]

By Stephen Leahy 

DURBAN, South Africa, Dec 5, 2011 (Tierramérica)

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is being used to tap the last remaining natural gas deposits across large areas of the United States and western Canada, fueling continued dependence on hydrocarbons instead of a shift to genuinely clean energy sources to cool the planet.

Called shale gas, these deposits represent a new and enormous source of fossil fuel.

“Fracking is driving exploration and drilling all over the United States,” said Gwen Lachelt of the non-governmental organisation Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project.

“The oil and gas industry is marching across America from Texas to North Dakota and from the east coast to California,” Lachelt told Tierramérica.

There may be as much as 23,427 billion cubic metres (bcm) in recoverable gas from U.S. shale formations, according to the Annual Energy Outlook 2011, released in April by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The United States will consume 650 bcm of natural gas this year, the EIA projected. Globally, it estimates reserves of “unconventional gas” – the oil and gas industry term for shale gas and coal bed methane – at 915,000 bcm, with 100,000 bcm in Latin America.

However, that estimate is already out of date due to developments in fracking technology and exploration. The EIA estimate of shale gas in the United States in 2009 was less than half the 2011 estimate.

Fracking uses horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing with high pressure water and chemicals to fracture gas-bearing shale rock.

Holes are drilled vertically as little as 100 metres and as much as 3,000 metres into the shale, and then horizontally 1,000 metres along the shale formation. Chemicals and large amounts of water are pumped underground at high enough pressure to fracture the shale, releasing the gas into the pipeline.

The “dash for gas” as the industry pundits like to say is being driven by potential exports to Asia and the mistaken belief that natural gas is the “transition fuel” from coal to a low-carbon economy.

It is true that natural gas is “cleaner” in that it releases about 40 to 45 percent less carbon dioxide than coal does to produce the same amount of energy.
However, gas from fracking has a higher carbon footprint because more energy is needed to get the gas and because methane leaks out.

Methane has 25 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide.

Switching from coal to gas as an energy source could result in increased global warming, not less, according to the study “Coal to Gas: The Influence of Methane Leakage”, released in September by the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).

This is mainly due to the methane leakage problem, which is common but unregulated.

[UPDATE JAN 20 2012: New study published in journal Climatic Change shows large volumes of methane released during fracking]

Read the rest of this entry »
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,954 other followers