New York’s 40 Year History of (Yes) Fracking

Jack Black - School of RockIn all of the trumped-up hysteria in New York with local municipalities banning hydraulic fracturing (see these MDN stories)—some banning it permanently, others for a year or two so they can “study it some more”—MDN wonders, do they know fracking has been going on in New York for the past 40 plus years? That indisputable fact apparently escapes most anti-drillers.

The type of fracking that has been around for 40 plus years is vertical fracking—drilling straight down and blowing little holes in rock formations around the well bore. The difference between vertical fracking and horizontal fracking, which is used to extract natural gas from shale, is that with horizontal fracking the drilling first goes down vertically and then turns sideways and goes horizontal. And horizontal fracking takes a lot more water and sand and yes, more chemicals to keep the bacteria from building up during the high temperatures of drilling.

One of the most frequent objections from those who oppose drilling is that the drilling process will somehow contaminate water aquifers—but the very same drilling process is used regardless of whether it’s vertical or horizontal drilling—the same process that’s been used for more than 40 years. Both vertical and horizontal wells start out by drilling straight down through the aquifer and using the same well casing technology to protect groundwater. Some of the water and sand and chemicals that come from horizontal fracking stays in the ground, more than a mile down—it doesn’t “seep” back up to the surface through a mile of solid rock.

That’s the message Nancy Schmitt of Taum Sauk Capital Management and John Conrad of Conrad Geoscience had for the editorial board of the Hudson Valley Journal News in a recent meeting.

Fracking detractors, the panelists said, rely on fear rather than science. Conrad said the process of hydraulic fracturing for vertical wells has been used for a long time; the new process would include horizontal drilling and would be at a higher volume, with more liquid employed during the extraction process. “It’s the scale that has changed; the process has not,” Conrad told the Editorial Board. Schmitt added: “Whether it’s a vertical well or a horizontal well, there is no difference . . . in terms of the way it penetrates the aquifer.”*

You can watch a short video of Schmitt and Conrad (embedded below) addressing the issue of natural gas drilling in New York.

*Hudson Valley Journal News (Feb 29, 2012) – Video: Gas experts talk fracking science

  • Anonymous

    Question. Does anyone know if, and  what chemicals were used in natural gas wells fracked in New York back 10 to 30 years ago?

  • Anonymous

    Where is the science?  In those 40 years, what is the record of aquifer contamination in NYS from vertical drilling?  Both industry and DEC say it is excellent, but they have never produced the data to substantiate their claims.  There are several sources of data including DMN non-routine incident reports, DEC spill incident reports, county Department of Health reports, and newspaper articles.

    In the late1980s (less than 30 years ago), the DEC had to revise standards for well casing because of all the water wells being contaminated.

  • Anonymous

    I love how you make a “revision to standards”, which makes something better and safe,  look like a bad thing. If we all had that way of thinking, our cars wouldn’t come “Standard” with 4+ airbags nowadays and mothers would still be holding on to their kids in the front seat on their laps. It’s called progress, Bin. But, we can’t learn anything by pacing in a room wringing our hands and worrying,we actually have to put things to the test. Now you brought up articles and DEC spill reports and all, but I don’t see a link nor do I see any copies of these reports posted. Want to make an omlette? You’re going to have break some eggs.  When it’s all said and done you get to feed yourself and others. I simplified it for you but you get the picture. Everything you see, use, and touch at one time worked worse than it does now. You ever see a turn of the century oil well, where the oil gushed for a few hours before they were able to capture it? I would say we’ve improved since. Please stop believing the spoon fed lies. There have been 1,000,000 HVHF wells in the US alone.  If they contaminated like you and people of your ilk say, there should be millions of contaminated and affected people. Please stop believing some kid who shot a  movie, that grew up in NY and summered a few times in PA is the authority on HVHF. Go with the men and women with PHD’s that have made it their lifes’ work to find energy where others can’t for the betterment of all.

  • Yes i do i helped frack 100 s of wells in ny pa and wva when working on a completion rig and we used the same mix that is used now it has not changed we used the flowback water to clean up, it is safe the only safe guard that really matters is quality casing and cement work. The art above is good but some not quite accurate we did a few maxi fracs on some wells that used 10 to 15 times more wtr and sand than normal vert wells so the anti groups need to be set right. i no longer work in the oil and gas ind but took my grandson to see a smal frack job about a month ago. if the anti bunch would see one for themselves they would soon learn the truth. thanks   

  • Anonymous

    All that need to be done  is to present a few facts to rebut these Anti’s skewed view point and they go away like lambs.. They only have self serving opinions and rarely present a factual argument that cant be shot down in a few seconds with fact. I gotta admit its fun though .I’m elated that this is the typical mentality of an Anti/ Liberal. Well written, Blueflames, there wont be a rebuttal, its to deep for Bin to understand, LOL. Tim Bailey thank you, for setting the record straight, its always comforting to hear from the men that work on these drilling rigs, please continue to comment on this site, there are many that read it and need to be educated with fact.