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Shale & Fracking Tracker

News & Flashes

  • 21
  • November
  • 2016

New Study Links Hydraulic Fracturing Operations to Earthquakes in Western Canada

A newly-released study links hydraulic fracturing operations to injection-induced earthquakes in Western Canada. Geoscientists at the University of Calgary studied all wells completed from December 2014 to March 2015 within the Devonian Duvernay Formation, finding both spatial and temporal correlations between hydraulic fracturing operations and seismic activity in the area. The largest observed seismic event during this time measured magnitude 3.9. Nonetheless, a prior study found that induced seismic events of magnitude 3 or greater are associated with only about 0.3% of hydraulically fractured wells in western Canada.

The new study also found important differences in how different portions of the underlying fault system responded seismically; the east fault strand was primarily active during hydraulic fracturing operations, whereas the west fault strand remained activated for several months afterwards. The authors conclude that “the elastic response of the rockmass to hydraulic fracturing” is one of several different mechanisms that can trigger fault activation, leading to seismic activity. Indeed, the study acknowledges that the recent increase in induced seismic activity in North America “is primarily associated with” a different mechanism—the “high-rate injection of large volumes of saltwater into porous rock formations” that occurs in underground wastewater disposal operations. However, the authors also cite to two earlier studies that found links between hydraulic fracturing operations and earthquakes in Oklahoma and Poland, Ohio. Speaking with the New York Times, one of the study’s authors acknowledged that different geographic areas respond differently to hydraulic fracturing activity, and that additional research should be conducted to “understand[] the origin of the differences.” Read the study in full here.

EIA Releases Shale Resource Assessments for Four New Countries

The United States Energy Information Administration ("EIA") has released its first estimates of the technically recoverable shale oil and natural gas resources in Chad, Kazakhstan, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates ("UAE"). EIA examined a total of 26 formations in 11 basins across the four countries. Out of the four countries, the UAE has the largest technically recoverable reserves of both shale/tight oil and shale gas in-place, with an estimated 22.6 billion barrels and 205 trillion cubic feet, respectively. Because there is no active shale exploration in these countries, EIA classified their reserves as "technically recoverable" rather than "economically recoverable." EIA has now assessed shale oil and natural gas resources across 46 countries. Read EIA's blog post detailing its new estimates here, and access EIA's full set of World Shale Resource Assessments here.

  • 30
  • May
  • 2012

IEA Issues "Golden Rules" on Development of Unconventional Shale Gas Resources

The International Energy Agency has issued a report that makes the economic case for pursuing the development of unconventional shale gas resources in a manner that takes into consideration both environmental and social concerns. The report concludes that the additional costs imposed on hydraulic fracturing activities by more stringent environmental regulations would ultimately be economically preferable to the potential hydraulic fracturing bans that some states and countries have considered or adopted. You can view the full report here.

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