Some drillers, including Range Resources and Chesapeake Energy, are simply reusing their water. By the end of last year, Range was recycling all of its "produced" water, or the liquid that flows up in a well that's producing gas after the fracturing process. Chesapeake recently announced its Aqua Renew program, an initiative to recycle all of the water the company uses in the Marcellus (). Already, that process is reusing 4.3 million gallons a month.
Seems like a good thing, reusing 4.3 million gallons of water, right? Until you find out, in Chesapeake Energy's own presskit, that 4.3 million gallons is less than miniscule. That amount won't even hydrofrack one well. See my cut below, emphasis mine.
Water is also used in hydraulic fracturing, where a mixture of water and sand is injected into the deep shale at a high pressure to create small cracks in the rock and allow gas to freely flow to the surface. Hydraulically fracturing a typical Chesapeake Marcellus horizontal deepshale gas well requires an average of five and a half million gallons per well.
By the way, Chesapeake's reusing 4.3 million gallons a month. Bully for them. How many wells are in Bradford County? 853, by the government's count, of which 201 are Chesapeake wells (see here for details).Which makes, um, 1,105,500,000 gallons used to frack for Chesapeake alone. And they talk of saving 4.3 million as if it's anything more than the little old lady pissing in the sea.
Make no mistake, most of the rest of that water is ending up in trout streams, wells, rivers, and unsightly open pits, waiting for reclamation. Read this article for a bit of the other side.
As the scale and pace of Marcellus gas well drilling picks up, people in rural Pennsylvania are learning how to fight traffic jams, research deed histories, encounter the FBI, self-monitor streams and light their tap water on fire.
Innovations in drilling technology have fueled the rush to extract natural gas from the Marcellus shale, a geological formation that underlies 70 percent of Pennsylvania and portions of Centre County.
The gas rush is on, and money is fueling all of it. Companies and lending institutions willing to invest the big money needed up front want a fast return, resulting in quicker and more intense drilling in rural areas desperate to save their sluggish economies. Residents are signing leases, desperate to supplement sagging incomes. Workers, hungry for jobs, hope to sign up for long, dangerous work days, if they can get them. And the industry promotes the benefits and downplays the costs of massive speculation, while opposing regulations that might shrink profit margins.
I'm disgusted, so I'm going to quit writing now. I'll be back, though.