Researcher Finds PA Marcellus Gas Drillers Reuse Two-Thirds of Wastewater on Average

The Geological Society of America’s annual meeting was in full swing over the weekend with some 1,600 geologists meeting in downtown Pittsburgh. Prominent on the agenda is drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

A Penn State University researcher found that Marcellus shale gas drilling companies reused at least two-thirds of the water returned to the surface during 30 days of drilling.

"The industry is striving to reuse as much flowback as possible," said David Yoxtheimer, a hydrogeologist with Penn State’s Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research.

That’s largely due to the millions of gallons of water needed to drill the horizontal wells about a mile below the surface that are necessary to fracture the shale and allow the natural gas to flow to the surface, he said. Reusing the water reduces reliance on groundwater or municipal sources of water, reducing the environmental impact, said Yoxtheimer.

Daniel Soeder, a geologist with the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, studied samples of drill cuttings, or bits of rock left over after drilling, as well as samples from well cores and Marcellus shale formations at the surface.

All three contain different levels of metals, chemicals and minerals found in flowback. Soeder’s research is preliminary, and he plans to conduct research on what causes the increased levels.

"What we really want to do is have some data to back this up so when regulations are put in place, there is data showing it really is needed," Soeder said. "One of the biggest issues about Marcellus is there’s just not a lot of data, so regulations are getting made and people are getting wound up, and there’s just nothing to back it up. So we’re trying to fill some of the blanks."

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mar 21, 2011) – Gas drillers reuse two-thirds of water, expert finds

  • Amifunding

    “1600 pro-gas, industry-funded research geologists, sat with eyes closed and chanted “two thirds”, “two thirds”… they clicked the heels of their emerald shoes together and suddenly it was true.”
    Such un-supported bullshit! Before you pass on dis-info from Penn Dis-Info State (the home of industry funded, mis-information ‘studies’ — It’s on record — It’s admitted) check the science of what it requires to create “slick water” for fracking.
    You need to change the name of this blog from “MDN” to “Marcellus Shale COALITION News”.
    As in the bullshit COALITION that’s bombing the shit out of the Libyans right now.
    When you call it a “coalition” somehow it gives legitimacy to a massive crime organization.

  • So if someone doesn’t agree with you, and they belong to a professional scientific organization whose job it is to help develop natural resources, they’re evil. Have I got it right? Just want to be sure I understand where you’re coming from.

  • pCBB

    Could you clarify exactly what water is being recycled and how many gallons per well is involved? The article says water “during the first 30 days of drilling”. Nothing is said about this being after fracing or that it includes flowback. Drilling alone can take 30 days, and fracing can be done weeks or months after rig is taken down. If Yoxthemeimer is referring to only drilling waste water, that is thousands not millions of gallons per hole.

  • Amifunding

    So if someone doesn’t agree with you, and they belong to a professional scientific organization whose job it is to help develop natural resources, they’re evil. Have I got it right?
    No. You don’t have it right. When academics are faced with losing their livelihood for disagreeing with industry spin they usually cave in — they support the propaganda, which in most cases, they have never investigated firsthand. That’s evil behavior. It’s chickenshit behavior. Just like the engineer who concealed damage 40 years ago to a reactor containment vessel and got a bonus of 3 million Yen to keep his mouth shut. Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $250 million steel vessel installed at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi Ltd. in 1974. Now he’s telling the world what he did and why.
    Just want to be sure I understand where you’re coming from.
    That’s where I’m coming from.