02:52:40 pm, by Bill Walsh CIH | 837 views
Yet another facet of the hydrofracking process is causing controversy in the US. The prolonged drought that over half the US is experiencing this year has affected the water supplies needed for fracking. Each well consumes up to 12 million gallons of water and companies are finding it more and more difficult to access this quantity of water.
West Texas, North Dakota, Kansas, Colorado, and Pennsylvania are all states where a lot of fracking occurs as well as suffering moderate to severe drought, limiting the supplies of water available for drilling new wells. In Kansas, water prices have increased from thirty-five cents a barrel to over seventy-five cents per barrel. In five Pennsylvania counties, officials have stopped issuing permits for ten drilling companies to take water from local rivers, forcing them to truck water in from further away. One company that drills in Pennsylvania estimates that the drought has caused a drilling slowdown of between ten and fifteen percent, with scale backs increasing if the drought continues. Drilling companies are starting to address the water shortages by increased water recycling. It has been estimated by one company that this will increase costs by as much as 75%. However, the current method of wastewater disposal, deep well injection, is coming under increased scrutiny due to a connection with earthquakes and may be phased out by legislation in any event.
The extreme heat this summer and increased demand for air conditioning has already caused natural gas prices to increase more than 70%. Natural gas currently generates about 30% of US electricity, with this percentage expected to increase as more utilities shift from coal to gas. As the drought continues, the price increases will continue due to production problems, as will gasoline as the price of corn reaches record highs (gasoline currently contains an average of 10% ethanol, mostly from corn). There is already an on-going “food or energy” debate going on as people argue if a food source should be used for energy. Now a “water or energy” debate may well be in the offing.
Categories: Bill Walsh