USGS Research – Marcellus Wastewater from 13 PA Wells Tested

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just published a new research paper on the topic of produced water–the water that comes out of a drilled hole, drilled for an oil or gas well. The paper, titled “Organic and inorganic composition and microbiology of produced waters from Pennsylvania shale gas wells” was published in the journal Applied Geochemistry and looked at produced water samples from Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale wells. The weakness in the research is that it is based on water samples from only 13 wells. Quite frankly, the research (which we think pursues a worthwhile line of inquiry) raises more questions than it answers. What can we divine from this study? In our cursory review, it appears two things stand out: (1) Although the inorganic chemistry of the produced water was pretty consistent across all 13 wells, there were big differences in the organic geochemistry and microbiology (bacteria) from well to well; and (2) volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found in only a few samples–just 4 of the 13 wells…

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