RESEARCH AND REPORTS 2015-18
Reports and research are split between UK, US, Australian and European research. They’re then grouped into categories and listed in date order (most recent at the top). Please let us know if we’ve missed a report you think should be included. Click here to get in touch. Research from before 2015 is at the end of this page.
Last update: 10 March 2018
Attitudes to fracking
How have oil and gas firms in the south east engaged with affected communities?
Keith Taylor MEP, 19 February 2018
This small online and self-selecting survey found that most people were not consulted by oil and gas companies about developments in their neighbourhood. The vast majority were unhappy with the industry’s approach to public engagement. DrillOrDrop report
Public Attitudes tracking survey, Wave 24
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 2 February 2018
This survey found support for fracking had recovered from its previous record low, up to 16%. Opposition to fracking fell slightly from 36% to 32% but remained double the level of support. 49% of participants neither supported nor opposed. DrillOrDrop report
UK public beliefs about fracking and effects of knowledge on beliefs and support: A problem for shale gas policy
Rachel A Howell
Energy Policy, 21 December 2017
This paper discusses an online survey of 1,745 British adults about shale gas fracking. It found that more respondents supported fracking in Britain (36%) than opposed it (32%) but only 22% supported fracking locally, while 45% were opposed. Respondents were more united in negative beliefs than positive beliefs about fracking. More knowledgeable participants held more polarised views and were significantly more likely than others to agree with negative statements and to oppose fracking in their local area. More respondents disagreed than agreed that it is possible to compensate for fracking risks by payments to local communities.
Public Attitudes tracking survey, Wave 23
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 2 November 2017
This quarterly survey of public attitudes found support for fracking was at a record low at 13% and opposition at a record high of 36%. People who neither supported nor opposed fracking remained the largest proportion and was unchanged at 48% since the same time last year. DrillOrDrop report
Public Attitudes tracking survey, Wave 22
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 3 August 2017
This quarterly public survey found that levels of support for fracking were at 16%, their lowest level since the question was first asked. Opposition to fracking stood at 33%, also the highest level (also recorded in autumn 2016). The gap between support and opposition was 17 percentage points, the largest recorded so far.
Public attitudes to fracking in Lancashire
YouGov for Friends of the Earth, 30 June 2017
This survey found that 66% of participants opposed fracking within five miles of where they lived and the same proportion were concerned about the impact of fracking on Lancashire’s natural environment. 54% said they thought fracking was unsafe. DrillOrDrop report
Public Attitudes tracking survey, Wave 21
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 4 May 2017
This quarterly survey found that support for fracking had risen slightly to 19%, but it was still 10 percentage points behind opposition, which had dropped 1% since the previous survey.
Deliberating the perceived risks, benefits, and societal implications of shale gas and oil extraction by hydraulic fracturing in the US and UK
Nature Energy, online version 10 April 2017
Merryn Thomas, Tristan Partridge, Barbara Herr Harthorn and Nick Pidgeon
This study concluded that the perceived risk of shale gas development was similar in the UK as in the US. The researchers found that people were concerned about water contamination and earthquake risk and who would bear the costs of the process.
Public Attitudes tracking survey, Wave 20
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 9 February 2017
This quarterly opinion survey recorded a 1% increase in support for fracking to 18% and a 2% fall in opposition to 31%. The proportion who neither support nor oppose was up 1% to 49%. Awareness of shale gas fell slightly to 75% from a record of 79% in the previous survey. People who had never heard of shale gas rose to 25%, from a record low of 21%.
Exploring Support for Shale Gas Extraction in the United Kingdom
Andersson-Hudson, J. Knight, W. Humphrey, M. and O’Hara, S, Energy Policy, 98: 582-589, November 2016
This paper draws on the Nottingham University survey of public opinion on fracking carried out in September 2014. The findings suggest 43% of respondents support shale extraction in the UK. Support is less likely from women, class DE respondents, non-Conservative Party supporters and people who associate shale gas with water contamination or earthquakes.
Seeing futures now: Emergent US and UK views on shale development, climate change and energy systems
Partridge, T. Thomas, M. Harthorn, B.H. Pidgeon, N. Hasell, A. Stevenson, L. and Enders, C, Global Environmental Change, 42: 1-12, 20 November 2016
The authors held day-long workshops in the US and UK to facilitate discussion of the possible consequences and meanings of shale development. Concerns expressed by participants were not limited to water contamination. People also question whether shale development was compatible with their visions for a longer-term future, including thoughts on climate change, dependence on fossil fuels, development of alternative technologies and obligations to act responsibly for future generations.
Public Attitudes tracking survey, Wave 19
Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, 27 October 2016
This quarterly opinion survey found opposition to shale gas had risen to a record high and support was at its lowest level so far. Support stood at 17%, down from 21% on the previous survey in June/July 2016. Opposition stood at 33%, up from 31% in March and June/July 2016. The fieldwork was carried out from 28 September-2 October 2016, before the Communities Secretary overruled Lancashire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for fracking at Preston New Road and reopened the public inquiry on fracking at Roseacre Wood.
10:10 energy survey
ComRes opinion poll for the climate change charity 10:10, 20 October 2016
10:10 says this is a representative poll of 2,037 UK adults interviewed online. It found that 34% supported fracking for shale gas, compared with 45% who opposed and 20% who said they didn’t know. This compared with responses for solar farms (83% support, 8% oppose), onshore wind farms (73% support, 17% oppose), offshore wind farms (80% support, 10% oppose), nuclear power plans (45% support, 37% oppose). This is the first opinion poll on fracking since the Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, gave the go ahead to Cuadrilla’s site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.
Survey of Public Attitudes to Shale Gas Extraction in the UK
University of Nottingham, 13 October 2016
The most recent survey by YouGov for Nottingham University long-running survey found that for the first time people who thought shale gas extraction should not be allowed in the UK outstripped those who thought it should (41%:37%). The pollsters interviewed more than 4,000 people in September and October, before the Communities and Local Government Secretary, Sajid Javid, overruled the refusal of planning permission for a Cuadrilla site in Lancashire. Negative associations of shale gas with water contamination and higher greenhouse gas emissions also increased.
Survey analysis and report of residents’ attitudes towards shale gas fracking in Mickle Trafford and District Parish
Fusion Data Science for Frack Free Mickle Trafford, 10 September 2016
This survey sent to all households in the Cheshire village of Mickle Trafford found that 81.7% of people who responded were against fracking. 6.5% said they believed fracking would be a good thing. 11.8% did not know or did not have an opinion. Of the population as a whole 51.7% were against fracking.
Energy attitudes research
Institute of Directors, 19 August 2016
This poll of nearly 1,000 members of the Institute of Directors finds that almost three-quarters of British company directors support decarbonisation of energy to mitigate climate change. Even more are in favour of greater use of solar, offshore wind and wave and tidal energy. Support for fracking is higher than the UK population but the process is less popular with company bosses than all renewable technologies except onshore wind.
Public attitudes tracking survey, Wave 18
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, 28 July 2016
This ongoing survey finds that support for fracking has risen slightly to 21% but the proportion of people who strongly support fracking has dropped to its lowest level. Opposition to fracking has remained steady at 31%. The proportion who neither support nor oppose shale gas remained unchanged at 46%.
Report to Guilden Sutton Parish Council, survey analysis and report of residents’ attitudes towards fracking in Guilden Sutton
Fusion Data Science, 2 June 2016
This survey sent to all households in the Cheshire village of Guilden Sutton found that 76.3% of participants were opposed to fracking, 9.2% supported it and 14.5% didn’t know.
Attitudes toward hydraulic fracturing: The opposing forces of political conservatism and basic knowledge about fracking
Becky Chorna, Yaniv Hanoch and Shannon Currie, Global Environmental Change, May 2016
This study by Plymouth University in the UK, was carried out in the US with 421 adults. It found that political conservative people were more were more likely to be in favour of the practice and to believe fracking offers greater economic benefits and fewer health risks. People with a more politically liberal outlook had greater concern about the health risks, were less likely to perceive fracking as offering economic benefits and were more interested in renewable forms of energy. People who knew little about fracking thought it had fewer risks than those who knew more.
UK public attitudes tracking survey, Wave 17
Department of Energy and Climate Change, 28 April 2016
This ongoing survey finds support for fracking in the UK fell to 19%, the lowest since the question was first asked in December 2013. Opposition was 31%, the highest level recorded. 46% were neither in favour or against and 4% did not know.
Majority of Scots want next Scottish Government to make renewables a priority
YouGov poll of 1,013 people for Scottish Renewables, 1 March 2016
The poll showed 70% of Scots wanted renewable energy to be a government priority. 19% wanted shale gas fracking to be prioritised. 42% said the government should not prioritise building new or extending the life of fossil fuel power stations. 33% said new nuclear power should be a priority.
North West Energy Task Force Lancashire business survey
ComRes poll, 17 February 2016
An survey of decision-makers in Lancashire businesses concluded that 53% believed the development of a shale gas industry in the county would have a positive impact on the Lancashire economy. 32% said the benefit they would most like to see from a shale gas industry would be giving priority for any new jobs created to local residents.
Public Attitudes tracker survey, Wave 16
Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2 February 2016
This ongoing opinion poll found that middle aged professional women living in villages were the most likely opponents of fracking. It again confirmed that the more people know about fracking the more likely they were to oppose it. The most frequently stated reason for opposition to shale gas was the threat to the natural environment. Support for fracking was highest among men and people aged over 65. Overall, opposition to fracking (29%) was higher than support (21%). But the largest proportion of people surveyed were neither opposed nor in favour (44%).
Public Attitudes Tracker, Wave 15
Department of Energy and Climate Change, 10 November 2015
This poll in the ongoing survey found the highest level of opposition to shale gas exploitation so far. The gap between support and opposition was the largest recorded in the survey and the proportion of participants who were undecided was at its lowest level. Opposition to fracking stood at 31%, an increase from 28% in the previous survey in June. Support for shale gas stood at 23%, up from 21% in the June survey. People who said they neither supported nor opposed made up 43%, down from 46% in June. People who said they didn’t know stood at 3%, down from 5% in June.
UK public perceptions of shale gas hydraulic fracturing: The role of audience, message and contextual factors on risk perceptions and policy support
Lorraine Whitmarsh, Nick Nash, Paul Upham, Alyson Lloyd, James P. Verdon, J.- Michael Kendall in Applied Energy, Vol 160, October 2015
The findings are based on what the authors describe as the first experimental online survey of public perceptions of shale gas fracking. Fieldwork was carried out in Lancashire, south Wales and mid-north Wales. The authors suggest the public is ambivalent about shale gas but sees more risks than benefits. Perceptions are more influenced by demographics, politics and environmental values of people, than where they live or what they know. Information about shale gas has the biggest impact on people who are ambivalent.
Public perceptions of shale gas in the UK
Mathew Humphrey, University of Nottingham, 14 October 2015
The latest results (from September 2015) in Nottingham University’s on-going study find the level of support for shale gas extraction is at its lowest so far and opposition is at record levels. Support among women has fallen to 31.5%.
Public Attitudes Tracker, Wave 14
Department of Energy and Climate Change, 4 August 2015
The latest results of this opinion poll suggested that the more people knew about fracking the more likely they were to oppose it. Support for fracking stood at 21%, its lowest level since surveying of public attitudes t shale gas began in December 2013.
Framing ‘fracking’: Exploring public perceptions of hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom
Laurence Williams, Phil Macnaghten, Richard Davies and Sarah Curtis, Public Understanding of Science, 14 July 2015
The authors concluded that government would not win public support for fracking by behaving like a “salesperson” for the technique. They also criticised what they called the “monologue” approach to public engagement by the Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil and they called for a wider, more open debate.
Contested perspectives on fracking in the UK
Peter Jones, Daphne Comfort and David Hilier, University of Gloucester, 23 February 2015
The report reviewed the contested benefits and risks associated with the possible exploitation of shale resources in the UK.
Public engagement with shale gas and oil
Report on findings from public workshops, prepared by TNS BMRB, 3 December 2014
The report concluded that the Government’s commitment to shale development, and the fact licences had been granted, reduced confidence that decision-making bodies would be objective or have scope to make independent decisions, despite information suggesting otherwise.
Biology and ecology
Developing a biodiversity-based indicator for large-scale environmental assessment: a case study of proposed shale gas extraction sites in Britain
Robert Dyer, Simon Gillings, Richard Pywell Richard Fox, David Roy and Tom Oliver, Journal of Applied Ecology, 6 October 2016
This analysis of 5,533 species has revealed that 65% of areas of Britain deemed suitable for fracking have above average biodiversity. Senior author Dr Tom Oliver from the University of Reading said: “Our results are an important step in assessing potential impacts of fracking on species and will help protect much-loved British wildlife that could be a risk such as wetland birds.
Natural gas and climate change
Kevin Anderson and John Broderick
Tindall Manchester, Uppsala University, University of Manchester, Teesside University, 7 Noember 2017
This study concludes that within two decades fossil fuel use, including gas, must have all but ceased to meet the Paris 2oC and equity commitments. Complete decarbonisation should cease soon after. The authors state: “There is categorically no role for bring additional for bring additional fossil fuel reserves, including gas, into production”. They say the conclusion is not significantly affected by the prospect of carbon capture and storage. “An urgent programme to phase out existing natural gas and other fossil fuel use across the EU is an imperative of any scientifically-informed and equity based policies designed to deliver on the Paris Agreement”, they say.
Can the climate afford Europe’s gas addiction?
Friends of the Earth, 7 November 2017
This short briefing draws on the study by Kevin Anderson and John Broderick Natural gas and climate change (see above). It says gas, like coal and oil, cannot be considered as a short or medium term solutions. “If Europe is serious about its commitment to make efforts to limit temperature increase below 1.5 degrees, Europe’s energy system must be fossil free by 2030. To do anything less will continue Europe’s failure towards those most at risk of climate change’s worst impacts.”
A stress test for coal in Europe under the Paris Agreement
Climate Analytics, 9 February 2017
This report calculates that to stay within the Paris Agreement’s long-term temperature limits of well below 2 degrees C the EU’s C02 emissions budget for coal in the power sector is around 6.5Gt by 2050. The EU will exceed its Paris Agreement-compatible coal emissions budget by 85% if its existing coal-fired power plants continue operating to their full lifespan. The report says emissions from coal in the EU electricity sector need to be close to zero by 2030, with a quarter of operating coal-fired power plants switched off by 2020.
Scottish unconventional oil and gas: compatibility with Scottish greenhouse gas emissions targets
Committee on Climate Change for the Scottish Government, published 8 November 2016
The report concludes that exploiting unconventional oil and gas by fracking on a significant scale is not compatible with Scottish climate change targets unless three tests are met:
- Emissions from well development, production and decommissioning must be strictly limited, with tight regulation and close monitoring
- Fossil fuel consumption must remain in line with the requirements of Scottish emissions targets. Without carbon capture and storage, the use of fossil fuels in power generation, transport and buildings must be eliminated by 2060
- Additional production emissions from shale wells will need to offset through reductions elsewhere in the Scottish economy
Zero emission vehicles need to take over car market to reach 1.5°C limit
Climate Action Tracker, 15 September 2016
This analysis concludes that zero-emission vehicles need to reach a dominant market share by around 2035 for the world to meet the Paris Agreement’s lower warming limit of 1.5°C—and even that could be too late to avoid the need for significant negative emissions. This transformation of the passenger transport sector would also have to be accompanied by a decarbonisation of the power sector to ensure the electric vehicles (EV) are truly emissions free.
Fuelling the fire
Friends of the Earth International and Friends of the Earth Scotland, 24 July 2016
This report urges the Scottish Government to ban underground coal gasification. It concludes that if plans go ahead for the Kincardine UCG project around 120m tonnes of CO2 would be released – more than twice Scotland’s annual carbon emissions. It also looks at impacts from the US and Australia.
Onshore Petroleum. The compatibility of UK onshore petroleum with meeting the UK’s carbon budgets
Committee on Climate Change, written March 2016, published 7 July 2016
This report from the government’s adviser on climate change concludes that shale gas development on a significant scale is inconsistent with UK carbon budgets unless three conditions are met. It calls for stronger regulation and the urgent development of carbon capture and storage. The tests are:
- Strict limits on emissions during well development, production and decommissioning
- Gas consumption to remain in line with carbon budgets
- Accommodating shale gas production emissions within carbon budgets
The report says if all these tests are met shale gas could make a useful contribution to UK energy supplies.
UK climate change policy: how does it affect competitiveness?
Samuela Bassi and Chis Duffy, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Enviornment and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, 10 May 2016
This policy briefing concludes that the UK’s Fifth Carbon Budget, reducing greenhouse gas emissions in 2028-2032 to 57% of 1990 levels, will not damage UK competitiveness and could generate low carbon innovation which can boost economic growth.
The future role of natural gas in the UK
Christophe McGlade, University College London (UCL) Institute for Sustainable Resources; Steve Pye, University College London (UCL) Energy Institute; Jim Watson, UKERC and SPRU, University of Sussex; Mike Bradshaw, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick; and Paul Ekins, UKERC and University College London (UCL) Institute for Sustainable Resources, Uk Energy Research Centre, 23 February 2016
The report concluded
- Gas can play only a modest role as a bridging fuel in the UK between now and 2020
- Without carbon capture and storage, there is little scope for gas use in power generation beyond 2030
- The economic logic in investing in new combined cycle gas turbine power stations is undermined
- A second ‘dash for gas’ could compromise the UK’s decarbonisation ambitions
Global temperatures set to reach 1 °C marker for first time
The Met Office, 9 November 2015
This analysis of Met Office data showed that for the first time global mean temperatures at the earth’s surface were set to reach 1 degrees C above pre-industrial levels. It added that 2,000Gt of Co2 had been emitted, meaning that two-thirds of the budget needed to reach 2 degrees of warming had already been used.
Assessing the impact of shale gas on climate change
Third interim report from the Task Force on Shale Gas, 16September 2015
The Task Force concluded that shale gas could help the UK move to a low-carbon economy over at least the next 15 years. But it said shale gas must not stop the development of renewables and low-carbon industries and carbon capture and storage would become essential if a shale gas industry developed at scale.
Can fracking for gas and oil power the Scottish economy
The Edinburgh Geologist, September 2017
This paper concludes that a shale gas bonanza in Scotland is unlikely. The author, from Edinburgh University concludes that Scottish shales have modest organic carbon content, shallow depth, unremarkable thermal history, heavy faulting and “barely correspond to even the poorest US-producing regions”. He adds: “their frackability remains unproven but could well be slight on account of their low quartz-plus-dolomite content. All in all Scottish shales may well have a success factor of zero.”
Expect the unexpected: The disruptive power of low-carbon technology
Carbon Tracker Initiative and the Grantham Institute, 1 February 2017
The report challenges the wisdom of backing fossil fuel expansion. It predicts that the falling costs of electric vehicle and solar technology could half growth in global demand for oil and coal from 2020. The authors warn that big energy companies are “seriously underestimating low carbon advances with a business-as-usual approach and that stranding of fossil fuel assets is likely as the low-carbon transition gathers pace”. It predicts a scenario where solar PV could supply 23% of global power generation in 2040 and 29% by 2050, entirely phasing out coal and leaving gas with a 1% market share.
UK-based oil and gas sector insolvencies hit a new high
Jeremy Willlmont for Moore Stephens, 3 January 2017
This study by a London firm of accountants revealed that 16 UK oil and gas companies became insolvent in 2016, up from two the year before. The author said: “The collapse of the price of oil has stretched many UK independents to breaking point. The last 15 years has seen a large increase in the number of UK oil and gas independents exploring and producing everywhere from Iraq to the Falkland Islands. Unless there is a consistent upward trend in the oil price, conditions will remain tough for many of those and insolvencies may continue.”
Economic impact assessment and scenario development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland
KPMG LLP for the Scottish Government, 8 November 2016
The authors conclude that unconventional oil and gas could represent 0.1% of the Scottish GDP (central estimate) and that by 2062 shale gas cumulative output could reach 947 billion cubic feet (central estimate) – at current rates this represents 5.5 years of Scottish consumption. This assumed 20 pads, 15 wells per pad and production lifetime of each well of 15 years. At peak, an estimated 80 full-time equivalent jobs would be created per pad or 1,400 in total across Scotland.
Fear of Fracking? The Impact of the Shale Gas Exploration on House Prices in Britain
Gibbons, S. Heblich, S. Lho, E. and Timmins, C, Spatial Economics Research Centre Discussion Paper 207, October 2016
The authors find that licensing for shale gas exploration did not affect house prices in the UK but fracking the first well in 2011, which caused two minor earthquakes, did. They founda 2.7-4.1% house price decrease in the area where the earthquakes occurred.
The Economics of Shale Gas Extraction
Dr Craig Dalzell, Common Weal, 29 April 2016
This report argues that the economics of fracking are highly vulnerable to global gas prices and may cost more in public subsidies than they generate in tax revenues or profits. It concludes that the economic benefits to communities living in and around potential fracking wells in Scotland would be short term at best and would not make up for the sustained economic harm of a boom-bust effect.
Shale Gas market – Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast
Allied Market Research Report, 14 April 2016
This report suggests global shale gas will grow at a rate of 14.4% from 2015-2022. Demand for shale gas is expected to grow at a rate of 12.6% during the same time.
The Economic Impacts of a UK Shale Gas Industry
Task Force on Shale Gas, 15 December 2015
The report concluded that a shale gas industry would create thousands of the jobs but presently available predictions were based on “less than ideal” data and “intelligent guesswork”. It called for:
- Greater clarity on the tax arrangements for operators,
- Government spending to develop skills and training programmes
- Exact outline of how the community benefits of exploratory wells will be provided and
- Clarification of the definition of “community”
UK Shale – not a compelling proposition
Gundi Royle, Presentation, 6 November 2015
Energy analyst and geologist, Gundi Royle, makes the case that shale will not make money when oil prices are below $100 a barrel or $6mmbtu of gas. She looks at what has motivated IGas and INEOS to invest in UK shale.
Emissions to air
Discrepancy between simulated and observed ethane and propane levels explained by underestimated fossil emissions
Stig B. Dalsøren, Gunnar Myhre, Øivind Hodnebrog, Cathrine Lund Myhre, Andreas Stohl, Ignacio Pisso, Stefan Schwietzke, Lena Höglund-Isaksson, Detlev Helmig, Stefan Reimann, Stéphane Sauvage, Norbert Schmidbauer, Katie A. Read, Lucy J. Carpenter, Alastair C. Lewis, Shalini Punjabi & Markus Wallasch
Nature Geoscience, 26 February 2018
The authors of this study at universities in York, Oslo and Colorado called for investigations into the levels of methane released from oil and gas sites. Their research found that global levels of ethane and propane released during fossil fuel extraction and distribution could be two-three times higher than previously thought. They said a re-evaluation was needed of the how much of the recent growth of atmospheric methane came from oil and gas development. Peer reviewed journal DrillOrDrop report
Geological concerns about fracking the Bowland shales of NW England. Briefing Note 4: Major hazards from hydrogen sulphide gas
Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors, November 2017
This briefing document calls for the immediate suspension of fracking in West Lancashire because of the high risk of major incidents due to toxic hydrogen sulphide in frackable rocks. The author says fracking at Preston New Road should be stopped permanently because “a lack of enough uncluttered open land to ensure rapid and safe evacuation of all workers, residents, police, farm workers, passing motorists and legitimate protestors in the event of uncontrolled releases of hydrogen sulphide and methane”.
Assessing the fugitive emission of CH4 via migration along fault zones – Comparing potential shale gas basins to non-shale basins in the UK
Boothroyd IM, Almond S, Worrall F, Davies RJ, Science of the Total Environment, 24 September 2016
This study considered whether faults bounding hydrocarbon-bearing basins could be conduits for methane release to the atmosphere. It looked at five basin bounding faults in the UK and found shale basins did not have a significantly different CH4 flux to non-shale hydrocarbon basins and non-hydrocarbon basins. The authors estimate faults have an emissions factor of 11.5±6.3tCH4/km/yr, while the most conservative estimate of the flux from faults is 0.7±0.3tCH4/km/yr.
Changes in O3 and NO2 due to emissions from Fracking in the UK
Archibald, A. and Ordonez, C, EGU General Assembly Conference Abstracts (Vol. 18), April 2016
The authors simulated scenarios to determine potential impacts related to fracking. They said the simulations demonstrated that there were large changes in the hourly maximum levels of Nitrogen Dioxide with modest increases in the monthly mean. They recommended stringent measures be applied to prevent deleterious impacts on air quality from emissions related to fracking.
Gas-fired power in the UK: Bridging supply gaps and implications of domestic shale gas exploitation for UK climate change targets
Turk, JK, Reay, DS and Haszledine, RS
Science of the Total Environment, November 2017
The authors conclude the projected 7.5% shortcoming in the fourth carbon budget will be increased if the UK pursues a domestic shale gas industry to offset projected decreases in traditional gas supply. If the supply gap for power generation were met by UK shale gas with low fugitive emissions (0.08%), an additional 20.4 Mt Co2e would need to be accommodated during the carbon budget periods 3-6. Modest fugitive emissions rates (1%) for UK shale gas would increase global emissions compared to importing an equal quantity of Qatari LNG and would risk exceeding UK carbon budgets. Peer reviewed journal
Evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning
Jesse Norman, Energy Minister, 23 January 2017
In a letter to the APPG, Mr Norman says it is vital to “seize the opportunity to explore the UK’s shale gas potential while maintaining the very highest safety and environmental standards, which we have established as world leaders in extracting oil and gas over decades. The Government is committed to developing this new source of energy as part of our work to ensure our energy security. Developing shale gas could create a whole new British industry, provide more jobs and make us less reliant on imports from abroad.
Written evidence from United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas to the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee
Published 18 October 2016
The industry body, UKOOG, says UK energy policy “should provide secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy, with an emphasis on home-grown energy and innovation for the future. To achieve this, we will need a balance of gas, renewables and nuclear. Getting this right is critical to manufacturers across the UK.” The authors says onshore energy production has been “impacted by a slow and uncertain planning system. They add: “There is an urgent need to invest in all onshore production, be it shale or non-shale, alongside further investment in the North Sea, to complement nuclear and renewable developments.”
End of the load for coal and gas?
Carbon Tracker, 19 September 2016
This study compares the power-generation costs of four new-build coal, gas, wind and solar plants. It applies a Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) sensitivity analysis across three scenarios. The study concludes that reduced load factors and short lifetimes for coal and gas plants in a world that is decarbonizing steadily significantly undermine plant economics.
Oil & Gas industry report 2016
Bank of Scotland, 6 June 2016
This survey of the more than 140 companies in Scotland’s oil and gas sector finds that interest in onshore shale gas has dropped from 2015, with just under a third of all companies (31%) giving it a high priority, compared to just under a half last year. 52% said they still had a high interest in shale.
Investor confidence in the UK energy sector
House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Select Committee, 1 March 2016
The committee concluded that a series of government policy announcements during summer 2015 had had an impact on the confidence of many investors. It estimated the cost of households could be £120 a year. It called for more clarity on existing policy and a “credible long-term vision for the future UK energy system.
Engineering the electricity gap
Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 26 January 2016
This report and policy statement said opposition to shale gas raised doubts about whether it would be ready by 2025 to meet demand for gas for electricity generation.
Mad maths: How new diesel generators are securing excessive returns at billpayers’ expense
Jimmy Aldridge, Institute for Public Policy Research, 8 December 2015
The study found that the government’s capacity market awarded £109m in subsidies last year to operators of diesel generators, the dirtiest form of energy generation. The cost was likely to increase in December 2015, it said, by up to £434m. It predicted a rapid proliferation of diesel generators, which would hamper emission reduction and undermine investment in clean technology.
Wind and solar reducing consumer bills: An investigation into the Merit Order Effect. Report by the renewables company Good Energy, 19 October 2015
The company found that renewables are cutting the wholesale price of energy and reducing the impact of subsidies on bill payers. The authors found that wind and solar brought down the wholesale cost of electricity by £1.55 billion in 2014. That meant an overall net cost for supporting the two renewable sources last year was £1.1 billion, 58% less than the cost reflected in the capped budget set for green subsidies, known as the Levy Control Framework.
2030 Energy scenarios
Report for Greenpeace by Demand Energy Equality, 21 September 2015
The report modelled how national demand could be met, down to household level, if the UK relied on wind, solar and tidal for more than 80% of electricity. It assumed electricity was used for transport and heat, as well as traditional purposes. It developed four recommendations to deliver this target: reduce the amount of gas used to heat homes and petrol to power cars; 47% increase in onshore wind turbines, twice as many offshore wind farms and more solar panels; in new gas plants combine power generation with industrial or district heating; use smart meters, batteries and demand-side management to reduce the need for extra gas power stations.
High volume hydraulic fracturing
Sir Richard Storey, July 2017
This four-part review of fracking examines evidence about the need for fracking, its hazards and the regulation of the process in England. It highlights findings from studies in the US about environmental impacts and argues that English regulation is “wholly unfit” for purpose.
Whitehall’s fracking science failure
Paul Mobbs for Talk Fracking, 24 May 2017
This report critiques the MacKay and Stone review of greenhouse gas emissions of shale, used by the government to support its development. Paul Mobbs questions the accuracy of the MacKay and Stone findings because of what he says are problems in the data selected and the analysis.
Briefing paper on shale gas and fracking
Church of England, 17 January 2017
This paper concluded that any development of shale gas reserves in the UK must not distract or delay efforts to expand low-carbon renewable energy (including community-owned energy) or other efforts to meet the UK’s long-term 2050 carbon reduction targets. It argued that the acceptability of fracking depended on: the place of shale gas within a transitional energy policy committed to a low carbon economy; the adequacy and robustness of the regulatory regime under which it is conducted; the robustness of local planning and decision-making processes. It accepted that a robust planning and regulatory regime was possible and that ongoing research and monitoring were needed on health and environmental impacts. The paper said the legitimate concerns of affected communities should be heard and that appropriate protections and compensation put in place.
Review of Church of England briefing paper on shale gas and fracking (pdf)
Mike Hill, January 2017
The author reviews the conclusions of the Church of England briefing paper. Mike Hill says the paper highlights evidence that is “considerably behind current technical and sociological thinking on the facts surrounding fracking in the UK. This has resulted in the paper giving false confidence to the public with respect to fracking safety, its regulation and its contribution to greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions. This false confidence may be described as ‘flawed’ at best and is in fact potentially reckless.”
The need for natural gas development (Powerpoint file)
Vincent Booth, January 2017
The author argues that the UK should support shale gas for the following reasons: security of supply; the variability of renewable energy; the cost of renewables and the energy produced; paid for by the low paid and poorest people; benefit to the balance of payments; employment opportunities.
Onshore Oil &Gas Sector Guidance
Environment Agency, 17 August 2016
Guidance for oil and gas companies and their consultants setting out which environmental permits are needed for onshore oil and gas operations in England.
Guidance on fracking: developing shale oil and gas in the UK
Department of Energy and Climate Change, last updated 11 April 2016
Includes guidance on what is fracking, shale gas and oil, potential, evidence, regulation, public engagement and government policy. The latest update covers Section 50 of the Infrastructure Act that came into force on 6 April 2016
A guide to shale gas
Energy Institute, 5 August 2015
The Institute, which represents the energy industry, said this 20-page document aimed to bring scientific and technical accuracy to the debate and to help readers expand their knowledge of the subject
What does fracking mean?
Jo-Jo Mehta, June 2015
The campaigning author of this four-page leaflet said it is designed to “directly inform the public of what fracking looks like in production and what has resulted elsewhere from the practice”.
Health and well-being
Health in Environmental Impact Assessment. A Primer for a Proportionate Approach
Ben Cave Associates Ltd, IEMA and the Faculty of Public Health, May 2017
This document argues that the biggest opportunity to influence project design and therefore health outcomes occurs while scoping, very early in the design process.
Fracking Lancashire: The planning process, social harm and collective trauma
Damien Short and Anna Szolucha, Geoforum (peer-reviewed journal), 17 March 2017
This study concluded that plans to frack for shale gas in Lancashire resulted in individual harm and “a considerable toll” on the local community, even before drilling began. The authors, who analysed interviews and conversations with local people in the Fylde, said people experienced feelings of powerlessness, depression, guilty and anger during the process to decide Cuadrilla’s two shale gas planning applications. They concluded that the affected communities suffered a form of collective trauma – described as damage to community bonds and the basic tissues of social life.
A review of the public health impacts of unconventional natural gas development
Saunders, P.J. McCoy, D. Goldstein, R. Saunders, A.T. and Munroe, A, Environmental Geochemistry and Health, p.1-57, 5 December 2016
This paper concludes there is a need for high-quality epidemiological research which incorporates real exposure measures, improved understanding of methane leakage throughout the process and a rigorous analysis of the UK social and economic impacts.
A health impact assessment of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland
National Health Services Scotland for the Scottish Government, 8 November 2016
The authors said overall, the evidence available was ‘inadequate’ as a basis to determine whether development of shale oil and gas or coal bed methane would pose a risk to public health. But there was evidence that airborne and waterborne environmental hazards would be likely to occur as a result of unconventional oil and gas operations. It said there was sufficient evidence of respirable crystalline silica used in fracking could pose a risk to the health of workers and hazards, such as airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and trophospheric ozone, occurred at levels that could risk health of nearby residents.
The human dimension of shale gas developments in Lancashire, UK: towards a social impact assessment
Anna Szolucha, 31 August 2016
The study in communities near Cuadrilla’s proposed shale gas sites in Lancashire concludes that the prospect of fracking has already had a profound effect on local people. Even exploration had begun residents near the proposed sites had experienced stress and anxiety, much of it caused by what the author describes as “a profound sense of moral outrage” at the activities of the gas company, local authorities and the government”.
Selenium enrichment in Carboniferous Shales, Britain and Ireland: Problem or opportunity for shale gas extraction?
John Parnell, Connor Brolly, Sam Spinks, Stephen Bowden, Appplied Geochemistry, December 2015
Researchers at the University of Aberdeen found high levels of selenium – a toxic element – in rock samples taken from the Bowland shale, which gas companies what to frack. Samples were some of the most selenium-rich in the British Isles and more concentrated that those found in the US. A number exceeded EU limits. John Parnell said: “It is clear that any drilling to extract shale gas in the Bowland Shale area must be carefully managed.”
Shale gas production in England. An updated public health assessment
Medact, 7 July 2016
The authors conclude that hazardous pollutants are produced at all stages of the shale gas production process. Based on current evidence, they say it is not possible to conclude that there is a strong association between shale gas related pollution and negative local health effects. But there is potential for negative health impacts. These include: risks of adverse reproductive outcomes due to exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals; risk of respiratory effects resulting from ozone and smog formation; and stress, anxiety and other psycho-social effects arising from actual and perceived social and economic disruption. In England there may be a greater risk of well integrity failure due to the heavily faulted nature of the geology. The strongest evidence is about the risk that shale gas will accelerate climate change.
Health and Fracking: the impacts & opportunity costs
Medact, 30th March 2015
This report concludes that hydraulic fracturing for shale gas poses significant risks to public health and calls for an immediate moratorium to allow time for a full and comprehensive health and environmental impact assessment to be completed.
Human rights and legal
Protecting the Protectors
Netpol, 3 November 2016
This study, based on monitoring policing at anti-fracking protests since 2014 and conversations with campaign groups, concludes that police operations are undermining human rights. It says: “The way policing operations are planned for anti-fracking protests, the scale of intrusive surveillance against campaigners and ‘zero tolerance’ attitudes towards civil disobedience has a cumulative ‘chilling effect’ on freedoms of assembly and expression.” It urges Police and Crime Commissioners to draw up local plans with clear minimum standards and expectations about policing anti-fracking protests.
Fair fracking? Ethics and environmental justice in United Kingdom shale gas policy and planning
Cotton, M, The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 22(2): 185-202, 27 May 2017
The author concludes UK fracking policy has inherent contradictions of environmental justice in relation to the Conservative Government’s localist and planning reform agendas. The power of communities in fracking decisions had been curtailed and power transferred from local to central government. Only by “re-localising” the scale of fracking governance can political equality be ensured and the distributive and procedural environmental injustices be ameliorated.
Keep Moving. Report on the policing of the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp November 2013-April 2014
Dr Joanna Gilmore (York Law School, University of York), Dr Will Jackson (School of Humanities and Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University) and Dr Helen Monk (School of Humanities and Social Science, Liverpool John Moores University), Centre for the Study of Crime, Criminalisation and Social Exclusion, Liverpool John Moores University Centre for URBan Research (CURB), University of York, February 2016
The authors concluded:
- The protest at Barton Moss was overwhelmingly peaceful.
- The policing operation undermined the right of protesters to protest peacefully at Barton Moss.
- The Police and Crime Commissioners panel report on the protest largely excluded the voices of protesters.
- Greater Manchester Police’s communication strategy focussed on justifying the policing operation
- An apparent lack of trust between protesters and police prevented effective dialogue
- Violent behaviour and harassment were central features of the policing operation
- Several women reported sexualised violence by Greater Manchester Police officers
Fracturing democracy? State, fracking and local power in Lancashire
Anna Szolucha, Open Democracy UK, 28th July 2015
The author argues that the government has used legislation to promote development and remove dissent.
Extreme Energy, Fracking and Human Rights: A New Field for Human Rights Impact Assessments
Damien Short, Jessica Elliot, Kadin Norder, Edward Lloyd-Davies and Joanna Morley, The International Journal of Human Rights, Corporate Power and Human Rights, March 2015
The study concluded the state violated human rights in the way it responded to UK anti-fracking protests.
Fracking under the radar?
Weald Action Group, February 2018
Short introductory leaflet about the use of acid in oil and gas sites in southern England.
Use of acid at oil and gas exploration and production sites
Environment Agency, January 2018
Frequently asked questions and answers about the Environment Agency’s approach to the use of hydrofluoric and hydrochloric acid in oil and gas formations. See also critique in DrillOrDrop report
Everything you always wanted to know about acidising (pdf)
Kathryn McWhirter for the Weald Action Group, January 2017
The author argues that acidising/acid fracking poses a threat to the environment, health, quality of life and climate. It is one of four processes, including fracking, that could cause oil and gas wells to proliferate in their thousands across our countryside. She says it slips under the radar and avoids the regulation (weak as it is) that now surrounds shale gas. Politicians, NGOs, planners, water companies, regulators and communities need to object to and campaign against acidising as well as fracking for shale gas.
Developing shale gas and maintaining the beauty of the British countryside
UKOOG, 10 January 2017
The authors, the trade body for the onshore oil and gas industry, conclude that the development of 400 well pads, each the size of two football pitches, could reduce the UK’s gas import dependency by 50%. They suggest 7-11 pads of 2ha each would be needed in a 10km by 10km licence block. Temporary drilling rigs, which are on site for a matter of weeks, would be between 24m (80ft) and 54m (175ft), similar in height to an electricity pylon but smaller than a wind turbine, the authors say. During gas production the wellhead would only be around 2m (6.5 ft).
Unconventional oil and gas development: Understanding and mitigating community impacts from transportation
Ricardo Energy & Environment for the Scottish Government, 8 November 2016
This report concluded that local communities would experience a rise in traffic numbers, potentially for a number of years, with increases in noise, emissions, road damage and risks of accidents. Each shale gas well pad could require 13,000-93,000 vehicle movements over 20 years and traffic movements could reach 190 a week for two years over the development of a pad with 15 wells. The additional traffic would be unlikely to be significant regionally or nationally and the contribution to carbon emissions would be slight. Sites with good highway links or in industrial areas would be likely to have low impacts on communities, compared with those in rural or suburban settings.
Potential environmental impacts of ‘fracking’ in the UK
Staddon, C. Hayes, E. T. and Brown, J. Geography, 101(2): 60-69, November 2016
The authors examine the uncertainties of the impacts of fracking in the UK and assess some of the implications for the water environment. They also suggest ways in which the UK could learn from the experiences of fracking in the USA.
Review of the Scientific Evidence to Support Environmental Risk Assessment of Shale Gas Development in the UK
Prpich, G., Coulon, F. and Anthony, E.J. (2016) Science of the Total Environment, 563-564: 731-740, 1 September 2016
This paper suggests that a high-level environmental risk assessment (ERA) can demonstrate competency, communicate understanding and build trust that environmental risks are being managed properly. But the authors say an ERA requires a scientific evidence base and suggest that evidence from the US might not be transferable to other regions.
Fear of Fracking: earthquakes linked to shale gas exploration cause house prices to fall
Professor Steve Gibbons, Spatial Economic Research Centre, London School of Economics; Dr Stephan Heblich, University of Bristol; Esther Lho, Duke University; Professor Christopher Timmins, Duke University, National Bureau of Economic Research. PolicyBristol Briefing 22/2016, March 2016
Licensing of areas for oil and gas had a minimal impact on house prices. But two earthquakes linked to fracking near Blackpool in 2011 had led to a 3-4% reduction in house prices nearby.
Extent of fracking in Sheffield and Yorkshire beauty spots
House of Commons Library, 23 February 2016
Research commissioned by Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, found that one-sixth or 533sq km of protected land in Yorkshire was now in areas set aside for fracking. 140 of Yorkshire’s SSSIs, (almost half) were covered by Petroleum Exploration and Development Licences.
Draft Shale Gas Rural Economy Impacts paper
Commissioned by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, published in unredacted form 8 June 2015
The report predicted that shale gas operations could wipe up to 7% off house prices, as well as increase rents, insurance premiums and traffic congestion. It also said fracking could lead to declines rural businesses, greater noise and air pollution, pressure on services, burdens on waste water treatment and industrialisation of the countryside.
Residential research report: The Impact of onshore gas exploration activities on local house prices
Report prepared for the pro-shale North West Energy Taskforce, March 2015
Concluded that plans by Cuadrilla to frack in the Fylde region of Lancashire would not affect house prices. Opponents of fracking criticised the quality of the research.
Oil and gas resources
IGas Reserves and Resources as of 30 June
DeGolyerr and MacNaughten, 17 October 2016
This report by an international reserves and resources auditor, estimates IGas UK has 11 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of potentially recoverable gas resources in its UK shale portfolio, which marks it as a “world class” asset. The report estimates a total of 102tcf of shale gas in place across the IGas projects. Proved oil reserves totalled 9.39 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe). Proved and probable reserves amounted to 13.77 million boe. Estimated contingent resources of oil increased to 21.83m boe.
The Jurassic shale of the Wessex area: resource estimation report
British Geological Survey and Oil and Gas Authority, 13 October
The authors estimate the shale oil in place – the total amount of oil present in the rocks – is 0.2-2.8 billion barrels (bbl) or 32-378 million tonnes. The central estimate is 1.1 billion bbl or 149 million tonnes. They say it is not known what percent of oil present in the shale could be commercially extracted. The report says no significant gas resource is recognised because the shale is not thought to have reached the geological maturity required to generate gas. The authors say shale oil has potential but will require geological and engineering expertise, investment and protection of the environment. This report is an extension to BGS report: The Jurassic shale of the Weald Basin: geological and shale oil and shale gas resource estimation, published on 23 May 2014. See also The Carboniferous shales of the Midland Valley of Scotland: geology and resource estimation (June 2014)
The potential for spills and leaks of contaminated liquids from shale gas developments
S.A. Clancy, F. Worrall, R.J. Davies, J.G. Gluyas
Science of the Total Environment, 15 February 2018
This study by ReFine (Research Fracking in Europe) is the first of its kind in the UK. It predicted the UK could see up to one spill for every four large shale gas pads with 40 lateral wells. For pads with 10 lateral wells there could be one onsite spill for every 16 pads. They also predicted there could be one road spill for every 19 pads. The study concluded that strict controls would be “a necessity” to minimise the risk of leaks and spills from any future shale gas industry in the UK. Peer reviewed journal DrillOrDrop report
A Review of Karstic Potential and Groundwater Vulnerability of the Chalk Principal Aquifer in and around Markwells Wood, West Sussex
Aidan Foley for Markwells Wood Watch, April 2017
This study estimated that groundwater in the chalk aquifer at Markwells Wood could reach the Bedhampton & Havant Springs water abstraction point. This is faster the Environment Agency had estimated and, if confirmed, would put Markwells Wood in a Source Protection Zone 1, rather than its current classification as SPZ2.
Unconventional oil and gas development in Scotland: Decommissioning, site restoration and aftercare – obligations and treatment of financial liabilities
AECOM for the Scottish Government, 8 November 2016
The authors identified a regulatory gap in the lack of any mechanism requiring long-term monitoring and responsibility for wells. They said decommissioned wells were unlikely to leak if constructed and abandoned to comply with international standards and industry best practice. They recommended leaks should be monitored for as long as the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency considered necessary. It also said there was an opportunity to strengthen powers requiring operators to provide financial guarantees to cover liabilities.
How can we be sure fracking will not pollute aquifers? Lessons from a major longwall coal mining analogue
Paul Younger. Paul Younger, Earth And Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 27 April 2016
The author uses the Selby coalfield as an illustration to refuse claims that fracking would contaminate aquifers. He says for this to occur there needs to be a continuous permeable pathway and sustained driving head upwards. He concludes new mines in the coalfield maintained complete hydraulic isolation from the near-surface hydrogeological environment. “Without hydrogeological connectivity to shallow aquifers, shale gas fracking per se cannot contaminate shallow ground water.”
Investigating the traffic-related environmental impacts of hydraulic-fracturing (fracking) operations
Paul S. Goodman , Fabio Galatioto , Neil Thorpe, , Anil K. Namdeo , Richard J. Davies , Roger N. Bird, Environment International, 24th February 2016
The authors, working for the Refine consortium, concluded single fracking well pads created substantial increases in local air quality pollutants during peak activity. Short-duration/large-magnitude events may adversely affect local ambient air quality and noise. Daily NOx emissions may increase by over 30% and hourly noise levels could double (+ 3.4 dBA).
Fracking pollution: How toxic chemicals from fracking could affect wildlife and people in the UK and EU
Briefing by Chemtrust, 1 June 2015
The authors conclude that the use of chemicals, combined with substances that flowback from underground, makes fracking a potentially significant source of air, land and water pollution. They call for disclosure of all chemicals, stronger regulation (even when wells are no longer used) and effective monitoring and enforcement.
Regulatory Domain and Regulatory Dexterity: Critiquing the UK Governance of ‘Fracking
Stokes, E, The Modern Law Review, 79: 961–986, November 2016
The paper argues that the UK government has adopted two arguments to regulation of fracking: regulatory domain and regulatory dexterity. The author suggests these approaches which are sometimes contradictory and rely on different conventions but are used by the government to advance its policy in support of fracking.
The discursive politics of unconventional gas in Scotland: Drifting towards precaution
Hannes, S.R, Energy Research and Social Science, 23: 159-168, 27 October 2016
The author looks at the role of the Scottish government in shaping public opinion and concludes that the government’s “storyline” has moved from a modestly reformed planning policy, to an exercise in scientific fact-finding and public consultation to possibly a precautionary approach that might result in an extended moratorium.
A rapid evidence assessment of regulation and regulatory practices involved in fracking and its publications
Andrew Watterson and William Dinan, 12 October 2016
This study reviewed scientific and academic papers and reports by professionals, government agencies, industry and NGOs. It concluded there was very little support for the UK government position that fracking would be safe assuming there was or would be best practice and robust regulation. Several reports concluded fracking could not conducted safely and outlined risks to public health that could not be mitigated. The authors said the evidence base for robust regulation and good industry practice was currently absent, the evidence from peer reviewed papers suggested fracking in the UK would not be effectively regulated and US and UK peer reviewed analyses and EU law identified both the precautionary principle and prevention as keys to dealing with fracking. An embedded copy of the report is included in the linked article.
Fracking in the UK and Switzerland: Why Differences in Policymaking Systems Don’t Always Produce Different Outputs and Outcomes
Cairney, P. Fischer, M. and Ingold, K, Policy & Politics, 23 August 2016
This paper asks why don’t major differences in political systems and policy produce major differences in policy processes, outputs, and outcomes. The authors show that key aspects of fracking policy are similar in the UK and Switzerland, despite the UK government being ‘all out for shale’ and Switzerland’s consensus democracy favouring moratoriums.
Onshore Oil & Gas Sector Guidance
Environment Agency, 17 August 2016
Guidance for oil and gas companies and their consultants setting out which environmental permits are needed and which Best Available Techniques are required for onshore oil and gas operations in England. Download: EA Oil and Gas sector guidance
UK onshore oil and gas incidents
Martin Dale, June 2016
Compilation of reports of more than 80 incidents at UK onshore oil and gas sites between January 2013 and June 2016.
Shale Gas and Water 2016
Laura Grant and Alastair Chisholm, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, February 2016
The report, described as an independent review, concluded that the shale gas industry had developed guidelines and the regulators have produced standard rules and guidance on best available techniques (BAT) to minimise harm. It said the expansion of the industry would “almost certainly not be quick”. To minimise disruption the industry would need to be “well-run” with a high level of transparency suitably involving stakeholders at all levels and employing BAT. CIWEM said the most significant risk was from the management of flowback and produced water. Good baseline data was required on water quality and continual scrutiny by all parties and further research is needed.
Shale gas and fracking
House of Commons Library, 15 January 2016
Updated briefing paper SN06073 on UK regulations and parliamentary changes, taking account of 14th licensing round and recent legislative developments.
Task Force on Shale Gas: Final conclusions and recommendations
Task Force on Shale Gas, 15 December 2015
The final report concluded that shale gas could be produced safely and useful provided the government insisted on industry-leading standards. Risks, the Task Force said, were not greater than those associated with comparable industries, again provided that operators followed best practice. Exploratory drilling to ascertain how much gas may be recoverable should begin. It said baseline monitoring of air, land and water should begin as soon as possible. Well operators must be held to the highest standards of well integrity and the process of “green completions” should be compulsory. There should no venting of gases and flaring should be for small time-limited exploration only.
Planning system on the brink as local authorities suffer from lack of resource
Report by The British Property Federation, 13 October 2015
This survey of local planning authorities found that 55% said under-resourcing was now a significant challenge. Determination times for major new planning applications hit a three-year high of 32 weeks, over double the government target, the research found. Over half LPAs said the planning system was not operating as well as it had in 2010.
Assessing the impact of shale gas on the local environment and health
Second interim report of the Task Force on Shale Gas, 15 July 2015
The report concluded that fracking would be safe for local people and the environment only if the drilling was done to the highest standard and operations were rigorously monitored and regulated.
An objector’s guide to fracking: the planning system and High Court Challenges
Leigh Day, 29 June 2015
The law firm which wrote this guide says it is intended to support individuals, community groups and NGOs in objecting to planning applications for fracking and challenging decisions of local planning authorities in the High Court.
Planning, Regulation and Local Engagement
First interim report of the Task Force on Shale Gas, 25 March 2015
The report concluded: “A single regulator with overall responsibility is more likely to provide the clear and transparent framework necessary to build public confidence on this issues.”
Fracking: Minding the gaps
Joanne Hawkins, Environmental Law Review, March 2015
The author argues that there are gaps present in European Union and national controls on fracking and that the system governing fracking is far from satisfactory. She calls for a more precautionary approach to regulation.
The opportunity in every difficulty: attitudes to shale gas development in the UK
Ricardo, 10 December 2014
Based on interview results, the engineering consultancy concluded that more than half those questioned were not confidence that local had adequate expertise or resources to address environmental risks in fracking applications.
Fracking: How far from faults?
P. Wilson, F. Worrall, R. J. Davies and S. Almond
Geomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources, 28 February 2018
This study by ReFine used published microseismic data from 109 fracking operations. It found that the risk of induced earthquakes due to fracking is greatly reduced if high-pressure fluid injection is 895m away from faults. The results showed there was a 1% chance that fractures from fracking activity could extend horizontally beyond 895m in shale rocks. There was a 32% chance of fractures extending horizontally beyond 433m, previously suggested as a horizontal separation distance between fluid injection and faults.
Minimising risks from fluid reinjection to deep geological formations
Environment Agency, September 2017
The authors say this report, based on a literature review and eight case studies, provides a greater understanding of the issues related to re-injecting water back into the oil reservoir when extracting oil or gas from the ground. It provides recommendations on how to manage risks from commonly used reinjection practices and describes alternatives such as offsite treatment and disposal. The report says it will help the Environment Agency to make decisions about the regulation of the onshore oil and gas industry in England.
A global review of human-induced earthquakes (pdf)
Gillian R. Foulger, Miles Wilson, Jon Gluyas, Bruce R. Julian & Richard Davies, Earth Science Reviews (peer-reviewed journal), submitted January 2017
The study draws on the Durham University iQuake database which recorded more than 700 earthquakes from 1868-2016. It found that 3.9% of induced earthquakes were caused by fracking and another 5% by waste fluid injection. Mining caused 37.4%, water reservoir impoundment 23.3% and conventional oil and gas 15%.
Unconventional oil and gas development: Understanding and monitoring induced seismic activity
British Geological Survey for the Scottish Government, 8 November 2016
This report concluded that there was a small probability that earthquakes induced by unconventional oil and gas operations would be large enough to be felt in Scotland. it said Scotland had low earthquake activity and the Midland Valley, where shale deposits were, had lower activity than the north of the country.
Use of borehole imaging to improve understanding of the in-situ stress orientation of Central and Northern England and its implications for unconventional hydrocarbon resources
Andrew Kingdon, Mark W. Fellgett and John D.O. Williams, Marine and Petroleum Geology, available online 10 February 2016
The authors concluded that the use of high-resolution borehole imaging produced a more reliable assessment of in-situ stress orientation in fracking boreholes. They recommended these tools should become a standard assessment before fracking began in the UK.
Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basins
David K Smythe, Solid Earth 27 January 2016
The author analysed case histories in Lancashire and Sussex and concluded that UK shale exploration to date has been characterised by a low degree of technical competence, and that regulation divided between four separate authorities, was not up to the task. If UK shale was to be exploited safely, he argued, more sophisticated seismic imaging methods needed to be developed and applied to both the Bowland and Weald basins, to identify faults in shale with throws as small as 4-5 m. He also recommended that what he called the current lax and inadequate regulatory regime must be overhauled, unified, and tightened up.
The importance of characterizing uncertainty in controversial geoscience applications: induced seismicity associated with hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in northwest England
Rob Westaway Proceedings of the Geologists Association, 7 January 2016
The author concluded that the Preese Hall earthquake in 2011 fitted what he describes as “an emerging trend of relatively large induced earthquakes in localities with high differential stress”. He said it should not have been unexpected. He suggested the earthquake was caused by the southward leakage of fracking fluid into a fault. He argued that given the “pervasive presence” of steep faults striking NNE-SSW or NE-SW, future occurrences of similar induced seismicity should be planned for. They posed a significant technical challenge to any future UK shale-gas industry, he added.
Anthropogenic earthquakes in the UK: A national baseline prior to shale exploitation
Miles P Wilson, Richard J Davies, Gillian R Foulger, Bruce R Julian, Peter Styles, Jon g Gluyas, Sam Almond, in Marine and Petroleum Geology, funded by ReFINE, 9 September 2015
The study concluded that the UK experienced three earthquakes a year due to human activity, mostly because of coal mining. It set a national baseline that would detect any rise in earthquakes following any expansion of shale gas exploration.
Wastewater from hydraulic fracturing in the UK: assessing the viability and cost of management
M C O’Donnell, S M V Gilfillan, K Edlmann and C I McDermott
Environmental Science: Water Research and Technology, 30 November 2017
This study by Edinburgh University concluded that safe treatment and disposal of waste water from fracking in England could cost between £100,000 and £1m per well under current treatment regulations. They estimated this represented 2-26% of the expected total revenue from each well. An additional cost of about £163,000 per well would be needed to dispose of concentrated sludge containing naturally occurring radioactive material. They warned that the cost and shortage of specialist facilities could limit the development of fracking in the UK. Peer reviewed journal DrillOrDrop report
Note to All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning on waste disposal at sea
David Smythe, 15 February 2017
The author sets out the legal limitations on the option of disposing of flowback and produced water from fracking at sea.
Final submission to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning
John Busby, 10 February 2017
The author argues that a universal treatment facility is needed to cater for all the possible variations in wastewater content. He also says a mobile universal treatment plant will be needed to cater for the wastewater arising from exploratory well drilling. He calculates that current inland treatment works will be inadequate if fracking went into full production. The only practical, universal method of ensuring that fracking wastewater could be treated satisfactorily is by zero liquid discharge systems, he says. Full production would require an investment in an adequately-sized, centralised treatment plan to serve the fracking locations. Adequate treatment would be expensive and energy-intensive, he adds.
Evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Shale Gas Regulation and Planning on the EPA report
The Environment Agency, 16 January 2017
In this evidence, The Environment Agency reviews how six potential impacts of fracking on drinking water – identified by the US EPA – would be mitigated and regulated in England. It responds to risks from water withdrawals at times of low availability; spills of chemicals resulting in groundwater contamination; inadequate mechanical integrity of wells; injection of fluids into groundwater resources; discharge of inadequately treated wastewater to surface water; disposal of wastewater in unlined pits.
Desalination of shale gas produced water: A rigorous design approach for zero-liquid discharge evaporation systems
Onishi, V.C. Carrero-Parreno, A. Reyes-Labarta, J.A. Fraga, E.S. and Caballero, J.A, Journal of Cleaner Production, 140(3): 1399-1414, 1 January 2017
The paper introduces a new model aimed at reducing brine discharges from hydraulic fracturing. The authors suggest that their model helps to develop single and multiple-effect evaporation systems and reaching zero liquid discharge.
Joint US-UK workshop on improving the understanding of the potential environmental impacts associated with unconventional hydrocarbons
Danny Reible and Richard Davies, NERC Science of the Environment, published 6 May 2016
This report of a workshop in November 2015 finds that the costs of dealing with waste water from fracking could significant and make shale exploitation uneconomic in the UK. It found “huge uncertainty” about how much waste water would be produced by UK fracking and how it would be cleaned or reused.
NORTH AMERICAN REPORTS
Attitudes to fracking
Resilient but not sustainable? Public perceptions of shale gas development via hydraulic fracturing
Evensen D, Stedman R, Brown-Steiner B
Ecology and Society, 2017
This study, based on interviews in the Marcellus Shale region of New York and Pennsylvania, found that people who thought local sustainability was important were more likely to oppose shale gas development but the reversed was true for people who thought local resilience was important.
Local control: authority, resistance, and knowledge production in fracking
Valencia, C and Carrillo Martinet, M, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews Water (peer-reviewed journal), March-April 2017, online 29 December 2016
The authors reviewed research on problems of authority, resistance, and knowledge production related to fracking.
Opposition to fracking mounts in the US
Gallup, 30 March 2016
This poll by Gallup records that opposition to fracking has risen from 40% in 2015 to 51% in 2016. Support has fallen from 40% to 36% and no opinion from 19% to 13%.
Conservatism vs. conservationism: differential influences of social identities on beliefs about fracking
Aaron S. Veenstra, Benjamin A. Lyons & Amy Fowler-Dawson, Environmental Communication, 11 January 2016
The authors concluded that environmental attitudes of people significantly affected how likely they were to believe fracking posed health risks. Environmental information was not significant. The authors also concluded that ideology and what they describe as “partisanship” had direct effects on beliefs about the risks of fracking.
“No Fracking Way!” Documentary Film, Discursive Opportunity, and Local Opposition against Hydraulic Fracturing in the United States, 2010 to 2013
Ion Bogdan Vasi, Edward T Walker, John S Johnson, Hui Fen Tan, American Sociological Review, 1 September 2015
The authors concluded that Gasland contributed to greater online searching about fracking, increased social media activity and heightened mass media coverage. Local screenings of the film mobilized anti-fracking activity, which in turn affected the passage of local fracking moratoria in the Marcellus Shale region.
Who Needs a Fracking Education? The Educational Response to Low-Skill Biased Technological Change
Elizabeth U Cascio and Ayushi Narayan, The National Bureau of Economic Research, July 2015
The authors found in states, such as North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania, the drop-out rate of high school males increased by more than 6% from 2006-13. The gap between female and male graduation rates rose by more than 11%.
Biology and ecology
Fracked ecology: Response of aquatic trophic structure and mercury biomagnification dynamics in the Marcellus Shale Formation
Christopher James Grant, Allison K. Lutz, Aaron D. Kulig, Mitchell R. Stanton, Ecotoxicology, 14 October 2016
The researchers sampled 27 streams in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale basin in June and July 2012 and 2013 for their physiochemical properties, trophic biodiversity, and structure and mercury levels. They observed no difference in rates of biomagnification related to within-watershed fracking activities, but they did observe elevated methyl mercury concentrations where fracking occurred in the watershed. They concluded that fracking has the potential to alter aquatic biodiversity and methyl mercury concentrations at the base of food webs.
Microbial metabolisms in a 2.5-km-deep ecosystem created by hydraulic fracturing in shales
Rebecca A. Daly, Mikayla A. Borton, Michael J. Wilkins, David W. Hoyt, Duncan J. Kountz, Richard A. Wolfe, Susan A. Welch, Daniel N. Marcus, Ryan V. Trexler, Jean D. MacRae, Joseph A. Krzycki, David R. Cole, Paula J. Mouser & Kelly C. Wrighton, Nature Microbiology, 5 September 2016
Researchers analysing the genomes of micro-organisms living in shale oil and gas wells have found evidence of sustainable ecosystems populated by a never-before-seen genus of bacteria. The new genus is one of 31 microbes found in two separate fractured wells. The microbes were almost identical even though the wells were drilled hundreds of miles apart in different shale formations.
The sky’s Limit: Why the Paris climate goals require a managed decline of fossil fuel production
Oil Change International in collaboration with 350.org, Amazon Watch, APMDD, AYCC, Bold Alliance, Christian Aid, Earthworks, Équiterre, Global Catholic Climate Movement, HOMEF, Indigenous Environmental Network, IndyAct, Rainforest Action Network, and Stand.earth. 22 September 2016
This study calls for an end to all new fossil fuel infrastructure and industry expansion. It finds potential carbon emissions from oil, gas and coal in the currently operating fields and mines would take the world beyond 2 degrees C of warming. Oil and gas fields currently operating would take the world beyond 1.5 degrees C. The study also calls for the closure of some existing fields and mines before fully exploiting their resources.
Paris Mismatches. The Impact of the COP21 Climate Change Negotiations on the Oil and Gas Industries
John Mitchell and Beth Mitchell, Energy, Environment And Resources Department, Chatham House, London. 13 August 2016
This paper looks at the impact of international action agreed in Paris in December 2015 on the oil and gas sector. It concludes there is a mismatch between the stated objective of the agreement to limit global average temperature rise to well below 2 degrees C and the contributions to climate change mitigation proposed for the period 2020-2030. It says additional, more stringent measures are likely to be needed in future and the impact on the oil and gas sector will intensify. Without credible policies on consumption and production, oil and gas companies will make risky investments to meet unsustainable demand.
The geological distribution of fossil fuels unused when limiting global warming to 2oC
Christophe McGlade and Paul Ekins, Nature, January 2015
The authors suggest that a third of known oil reserves, half of gas and over 80% of coal reserves need to remain unused from 2010-2050 to avoid exceeding 2 degrees of warming.
How large are global fossil fuel subsidies?
David Coady, Ian Parry, Louis Sears, and Baoping Shang
World Development, 7 August 2017
This study estimates fossil fuel subsidies amount to 6.5% of global GDP in 2015. Coal subsidies account for about half across the world and most subsidies are concentrated in a few large countries. The study also concludes that fossil fuels are expensive but most of their costs are hidden as subsidies. If people knew how large the subsidies were, there would be a backlash against them. Peer reviewed journal
Male earnings, marriageable men and nonmarital fertility: Evidence from the fracking boom
Melissa S Kearney and Rile Wilson
National Bureau of Economic Research, May 2017
The authors conclude that localised fracking booms led to increased wages for non-collee educated men. They found that in response to fracking production, births to married and non-married women increased, although there was no evidence of increased marriage rates.
How fracking supports the plastic industry
Food and Water Watch, February 2017
This briefing by the public interest organisation argues that the plastics industry has reaped under-the-radar benefits from the fracking boom, which has produced an oversupply of cheap ethane. It says “transforming ethane into plastics and other products is inherently toxic, polluting the environment and imposing public health risks on petrochemical workers and the communities near the plants”. The plants emit air and climate pollutants, the report says. It adds that industry is energy-intensive and inherently wasteful because the largest sector is packaging which is immediately thrown away. Much of the plastic waste ends up in oceans and surface waters, the briefing argues.
What if hydraulic fracturing was banned?
US Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st Century Energy, 3 November 2016
The authors conclude that if fracking were banned starting next year the country would lose 14.8m jobs, gasoline prices would almost double, natural gas prices would rise to over $12 per mmbtu, electricity prices would nearly double, the cost of living would rise by nearly $4,000 a year while household incomes would fall by $873 billion, the US would surrender its status as a global energy superpower and US GDP would be reduced by $1.6 trillion. Under a fracking ban, Ohio would lose 397,000 jobs; Pennsylvania 466,000 jobs; Colorado 215,000 jobs; and Texas 1.49 million jobs. The cost-of-living for the average family would rise by $3,500 per year in Colorado and Pennsylvania, $4,000 per year in Ohio, and over $4,600 per year in Texas
What if…America’s Energy Renaissance Never Actually Happened?
US Chamber of Commerce Institute for 21st century energy. 22 September 2016
This report concludes the US economy is much stronger, more businesses are growing and more people are working in higher-paying jobs because America is producing more energy at home. It estimates without what it calls the energy renaissance: 4.3m jobs would not have been created; the US economy would be $548 billion poorer; electricity prices would be 31% higher and motor fuels 43% higher; gas prices for homes would be 28% higher and for industry 94% higher. Without lower energy prices, the analysis concludes industry would have lost almost $47 billion in economic opportunity, nearly $25 billion in labor income and the equivalent of 387,500 jobs.
Just fracking: a distributive environmental justice analysis of unconventional gas development in Pennsylvania, USA
Emily Clough1 and Derek Bell, Environmental Research Letters Focus on Environmental Justice: New Directions in International Research, Volume 11, Number 2, 15 February 2016
The authors concluded there is no evidence of traditional distributive environmental injustice: there is not a disproportionate number of minority or low-income residents in areas near to unconventional wells. But they said there was evidence of benefit sharing distributive environmental injustice: the income distribution of the population nearer to shale gas wells has not been transformed since shale gas development.
Understanding future emissions from low-carbon power systems by integration of life-cycle assessment and integrated energy modelling
Michaja Pehl, Anders Arvesen, Florian Humpenöder, Alexander Popp, Edgar G. Hertwich and Gunnar Luderer
Nature Energy, 8 December 2017
This study concluded that cumulative emissions from upscaling low-carbon power, other than hydropower, were small, compared with the direct sectoral fossil fuel emissions and the total carbon budget. Peer reviewed journal
Reduced biomass burning emissions reconcile conflicting estimates of the post-2006 atmospheric methane budget
John R. Worden, A. Anthony Bloom, Sudhanshu Pandey, Zhe Jiang, Helen M. Worden, Thomas W. Walker, Sander Houweling & Thomas Röckmann
Nature Communications, January 2018
This study by scientists at NASA concludes that rising emissions from the oil and gas industry are mainly responsible for the increase in methane in the atmosphere. After remaining fairly stable around the year 2000, atmospheric methane levels began rising in 2006. This rise could be significant for climate change because methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. The rise has been attributed to burning, as well as oil and gas fugitive emissions. The NASA team found that the actual drop in methane from burning was almost twice what they had expected. Taking this bigger drop into account, and adding predicted increases from both fossil fuels and wetlands, they found that the calculated methane levels now matched the observed levels in the atmosphere. Peer reviewed journal
Is the global spike in methane emissions caused by the natural gas industry or animal agriculture?
Dr Robert Howarth
The Methane Project at Cornell University, 14 November 2017
This paper calls for urgent research to measure the C14 content of methane in the global atmosphere as the best to determine unambiguously what has been driving the global increase in atmospheric methane. The paper “tentatively concludes” that the global increase in methane over the past decade is due to shale gas and shale oil development in the US. A revised global methane budget for 2015 indicates that methane emissions from the oil and gas industry are now likely to be more than two times higher than those from all animal agricultural globally.
Mobile measurement of methane emissions from natural gas developments in Northeastern British Columbia, Canada
Emmaline Atherton, David Risk, Chelsea Fougere, Martin Lavoie, Alex Marshall, John Werring, James P. Williams, and Christina Minions
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 7 April 2017
This study monitored methane levels around more than 1,600 unique well pads and facilities developed by more than 50 different operators. It found that 47% of active wells emitted methane-rich plumes above the researchers’ minimum detection limit. Abandoned and under-development well sites also emitted methane-rich plumes but at a lower incident rate. Older infrastructure tended to emit more often per unit. The total contribution of emissions was estimated at 111,800 for the Montney development, higher than the 78,000 tonnes estimated for the total oil and gas sector in British Colombia. Montney represents 55% of production in the state.
Composition and sources of winter haze in the Bakken oil and gas extraction region
Evanoski-Cole AR, Gebhart KA, Sive BC, Zhou Y, Capps SL, Day DE, Prenni AJ, Schurman MI, Sullivan AP, Li Y, Hand JL, Schichtel BA, and Collett JL
Atmospheric Environment, online version 9 February 2017
This study investigated particle concentrations in the Bakken region of the US. It found high concentrations of PM2.5 were linked to air mass stagnation. During these periods there was evidence that air masses were dominated by emissions from the Bakken region.
Environmental and Community Impacts of Shale Development in Texas
The Academy of medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas, 19 June 2017
This 204-page report covers six impacts of shale exploration and production activities: geology and earthquakes; land resources; air quality; water quality and quantity; transportation; and economic and social impacts. The Houston Chronicle’s coverage of the document led with the conclusion: “Oil and gas drilling in Texas shale plays pollutes the air, erodes soil and contaminates water, while the disposal of millions of gallons of wastewater causes earthquakes, a consortium of the state’s top scientists concluded.”
Analysis of local-scale background concentrations of methane and other gas-phase species in the Marcellus Shale
J. Douglas Goetz, Anita Avery, Ben Werden, Cody Floerchinger, Edward C. Fortner, Joda Wormhoudt, Paola Massoli, Scott C. Herndon, Charles E. Kolb, W. Berk Knighton, Jeff Peischl, Carsten Warneke, Joost A. de Gouw, Stephanie L. Shaw, Peter F. DeCarlo, Elementa Science of the Anthropocene (peer-reviewed journal), 9 February 2017
This research from Drexel University found that atmospheric methane levels in the Marcellus Shale in north east Pennsylvania increased from 2012-2015, despite a slow-down in the number of new gas wells. Measurements showed a substantial increase from 2012-2015. Peter DeCarlo, who led the study, ascribes the rapid increase to increased gas production. He said: “With the increased background levels of methane, the relative climate benefit of natural gas over coal for power production is reduced.”
Controls on Methane Occurrences in Shallow Aquifers Overlying the Haynesville Shale Gas Field, East Texas
Jean-Philippe Nicot, Toti Larson, Roxana Darvari, Patrick Mickler, Michael Slotten, Jordan Aldridge, Kristine Uhlman, Ruth Costley, Groundwater (peer-reviewed journal), 19 January 2017
This research found a zone of elevated microbial and thermogenic methane linked to an active fault system. The authors concluded that the pathway for methane from a shallow and deeper reservoirs was provided by the fault system.
Atmospheric methane isotopic record favors fossil sources flat in 1980s and 1990s with recent increase
Andrew L. Rice, Christopher L. Butenhoffa, Doaa G. Teama, Florian H. Röger, M. Aslam K. Khalil, and Reinhold A. Rasmussen. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 14 September 2016.
This study concluded that methane emissions from the fossil fuel industry were responsible for the majority of the recent rise in global atmospheric methane. It said emissions from the sector increased significantly 2000-2009, challenging previous conclusions that atmospheric ethane from fugitive fossil fuel emissions fell during this period.
Fugitive emissions from the Bakken shale illustrate role of shale production in global ethane shift
E. A. Kort, M. L. Smith, L. T. Murray, A. Gvakharia, A. R. Brandt, J. Peischl, T. B. Ryerson, C. Sweeney, K. Travis, Geophysical Research Letters, 7 May 2016
This study concluded that the Bakken shale oil and gas region in North Dakota produced the equivalent of 1-3% of total global emissions of ethane in 2014. The researchers said emissions of this magnitude impact on air quality and illustrate the key role of shale oil and gas production in rising global ethane levels.
A large increase in U.S. methane emissions over the past decade inferred from satellite data and surface observations
A. J. Turner, D. J. Jacob, J. Benmergui, S. C. Wofsy, J. D. Maasakkers, A. Butz, O. Hasekamp, S. C. Biraud in Geophysical Research Letters, 2 March 2016
Satellite retrievals and surface observations of atmospheric methane suggested that US methane emissions had increased by more than 30% from 2002-2014. The authors said the trend was largest in the central part of the US. They could not readily attribute it to any specific source but they said shale gas production increased nine-fold during the same period. The increase in U.S. methane emissions could account for 30–60% of the global growth of atmospheric methane seen in the past decade.
Greenhouse Gases from a Growing Petrochemical Industry
Environmental Integrity Project, 29 February 2016
The study concluded that fracking and horizontal drilling in the US has led to the growth of the petrochemical industry and an associated increase in greenhouse gases. In 2015, 44 construction projects were proposed or permitted and are expected to release 86m tons of greenhouse gasses, the equivalent of 19 coal-fired power plants. Over the past five years, emissions from petrochemicals could equal pollution from 39 coal plants. Efforts to cut overall greenhouse gas emissions will have to increase to keep pace with petrochemical expansion.
Methane Emissions from Conventional and Unconventional Natural Gas Production Sites in the Marcellus Shale Basin
Mark Omara, Melissa R. Sullivan, Xiang Li, R. Subramanian, Allen L. Robinson, and Albert A. Presto, Environmental Science & Technology, 29 January 2016
The authors compared methane emissions from conventional and unconventional gas wells in the Marcellus region. Emission rates at unconventional sites in production were 23 times greater than the conventional sites. The differences were attributed partly to the large size and higher production at unconventional sites. The conventional sites had a greater prevalence of what the study called “avoidable process operating conditions”. Regionally, emissions from conventional pads exceeded that from unconventional pads reflecting the large number of conventional wells.
The facts about fugitive methane
Elizabeth A Muller and Richard A Muller, Centre for Policy Studies, 26th October 2015
The authors argued that replacing coal-fired electricity generating plants with gas would help reduce global greenhouse emissions. They estimated average methane leakage across the gas supply chain was below 3%, which they argued was less than half the warming potential of coal.
Methane emissions and climatic warming risk from hydraulic fracturing and shale development: implications for policy
Robert W Howarth, Energy and Emission Control Technologies, 8 October 2015
The author concludes that shale gas has a significantly larger greenhouse gas footprint than conventional gas, coal and oil when methane emissions are included. He says total greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use in the USA rose from 2009-2013 because of shale gas development. Given shale gas production projections, this trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions is likely to continue to 2040.
Methane emissions from United States natural gas gathering and processing
Anthony J Marchese, Timothy L Vaughn, Daniel J Zimmerle, David M Martinez, Laurie L Williams, Allen L Robinson Austin L Mitchell, R Subramanian, Daniel S Tkacik, Joseph R Roscioli, and Scott C Herndon, Environmental Science & Technology, 18 August 2015
The authors concluded that methane emissions from natural gas gathering and processing facilities were higher than the US Environmental Protection Agency estimates and represented 30% of the total net methane emissions in natural gas systems.
Noble gases identify the mechanisms of fugitive gas contamination in drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales
Thomas H Darraha, Avner Vengosha, Robert B Jacksona, Nathaniel R Warnera, and Robert J Poredae, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 12 August 2014
This study found that contamination of drinking water in the Marcellus and Barnett Shales were caused by faulty wells.
Drivers of the US CO2 emissions 1997-2013
Kuishuang Feng, Steven J Davis, Laixiang Sun and Klaus Hubacek, Nature Communications, 21 July 2015
The authors concluded that the 11% fall in US CO2 emissions – widely attributed to the replacement of coal with gas in electricity production – were largely a result of economic recession. Changes in fuel mix played a minor role.
Constructing a Spatially Resolved Methane Emission Inventory for the Barnett Shale Region
David R. Lyon, Daniel Zavala-Araiza, Ramón A. Alvarez, Robert Harriss, Virginia Palacios, Xin Lan, Robert Talbot, Tegan Lavoie∥, Paul Shepson, Tara I Yacovitch, Scott C Herndon, Anthony J Marchese, Daniel Zimmerle, Allen L Robinson, and Steven P Hamburg, Environmental Science and Technology, July 7, 2015
The study’s inventory of methane emissions was higher than alternate inventories by a factor of 1.5-4.3.
Onshore petroleum and natural gas operations on federal and tribal lands in the United States, analysis of emissions and abatement opportunities
ICF for Environmental Defence Fund, 22 June 2015
ICF estimated that vented loss from oil and natural gas operations amounted to over 65 billion cubic feet in 2013, with a value of $360 million. The authors said the losses were main methane and described them as “an irresponsible use of taxpayer and tribal resources, and harmful to the climate.”
Methane Concentrations in Water Wells Unrelated to Proximity to Existing Oil and Gas Wells in Northeastern Pennsylvania
Donald I. Siegel, Nicholas A. Azzolina, Bert J. Smith, A. Elizabeth Perry∥, and Rikka L. Bothun, Environmental Science and Technology, 12 March 2015
The authors found no statistically significant relationship between dissolved methane concentrations in groundwater from domestic water wells and proximity to pre-existing oil or gas wells.
Shale reality check. Drilling into the US Government’s rosy projections for shale gas and tight oil production through 2050
J David Hughes
Post Carbon Institute, 5 February 2018
This report assesses the US Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook. It concludes that the AEO’s forecasts for most oil and gas plays are “extremely optimistic” and “impart an unjustified level of comfort for long-term energy sustainability”.
Market Report Series: Gas 2017
International Energy Agency, 13 July 2017
This report argues that the natural gas market is undergoing a fundamental transformation. The ongoing shale-gas revolution in the US and the growing liquefaction capacity along with the fast-growing LNG trade, are disrupting traditional gas business and pricing models.
The shale gas revolution: Barriers, sustainability, and emerging opportunities
Richard S.Middleton, RajanGupta, Jeffrey D.Hyman and Hari S.Viswanathan
Applied Energy, online version 9 May 2017
This study, which analysed data from 23 years of production from 20,000 wells, looks at key discoveries of shale gas and hydraulic refracturing, lessons learned and recommendations. The researchers argue that overall shale gas production is dominated by “long-term tail production” rather than the high-profile initial exponentially-declining production in the first 12 months. They hypothesize that tail production can be manipulated through better fracturing techniques and alternative working fluids, such as CO2 to increase shale gas recovery and minimise environmental impacts.
OECD companion to the inventory of support measures for fossil fuels 2015
Report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 24 September 2015
The study examined almost 800 individual government policies to support the production or consumption of fossil fuels in OECD countries along with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa. It found that the measures amounted to $160-200 billion a year and the bulk of this went to supporting the consumption of petroleum products.
“We Can’t Be Dependent on Anybody”: The rhetoric of “Energy Independence” and the legitimation of fracking in Pennsylvania
Carlo E Sica and Matthew Huber, The Extractive Industries and Society, (peer-reviewed journal), online 24 February 2017
This paper examine the argument that hydraulic fracturing has reduced US dependence on oil imports. The authors argue that discourse about energy independence sees the world as a struggle between territorial states but this obscures how international commerce and investment relies on interdependence, cooperation and co-production. In fact, they argue, fracking was made possible by a global network of oil and gas firms, shale gas from the US has been exported and profits have flowed into global cooperative investors.
Modeling potential occupational inhalation exposures and associated risks of toxic organics from chemical storage tanks used in hydraulic fracturing using AERMOD
H Chen and KE Carter, Environmental Pollution (peer-reviewed journal), May 2017
The authors investigated the possible occupational inhalation exposures and potential risks related to the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from chemical storage tanks and flowback pits used in US hydraulic fracturing. Results show that chemicals used in 12.4% of the wells posed a potential acute non-cancer risks for exposure and 0.11% of the wells with may provide chronic non-cancer risks for exposure. Chemicals used in 7.5% of the wells were associated with potential acute cancer risks for exposure. Those chemicals used in 5.8% of the wells may be linked to chronic cancer risks for exposure.
Cytotoxicity and molecular effects of biocidal disinfectants (quaternary ammonia, glutaraldehyde, poly(hexamethylene biguanide) hydrochloride PHMB) and their mixtures in vitro and in zebrafish eleuthero-embryos
Verena Christen, Susanne Faltermann, Nadja Rebecca Brun, Petra Y Kunz, Karl Fenta, Science of The Total Environment, (peer-reviewed journal), May 2017
This study looked at the impact of five biocide disinfectants on the liver cells of fish. The authors assessed the cytotoxicity of the substances individually and as a mixture. A mixture containing all five compounds mixed at their no observed effect concentrations showed strong cytotoxicity, suggesting a synergistic interaction.
Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment
Aaron G. Cahill, Colby M. Steelman, Olenka Forde, Olukayode Kuloyo, S. Emil Ruff, Bernhard Mayer, K. Ulrich Mayer, Marc Strous, M. Cathryn Ryan, John A. Cherry & Beth L. Parker, Nature Geoscience, (peer-reviewed journal), online 27 March 2017
The authors carried out a 72-day methane gas injection experiment into a shallow flat-lying sand aquifer. The found that equal amounts of methane vented to the atmosphere as remained in the groundwater. The lateral migration of gas in the aquifer was beyond that expected by groundwater mechanisms alone. The authors concluded that even small-volume releases of methane gas can cause extensive and persistent free phase and solute plumes emanating from leaks that are detectable only by contaminant hydrogeology monitoring at high resolution.
Chemical and toxicological characterizations of hydraulic fracturing flowback and produced water
He Y, Flynn SL, Folkerts EJ, Zhang Y, Ruan D, Alessi DS, Martin JW and Goss GG, Water Resources, (peer-reviewed journal) online 14 February 2017
This study examined solids, salts and organic signatures in hydraulic fracturing flowback and produced water. The authors concluded that toxicological profiling of produced and flowback water presented great challenges for assessing the potential risk and impacts of spills.
Fracking by the Numbers. The Damage to Our Water, Land and Climate from a Decade of Dirty Drilling
Elizabeth Ridlington, Kim Norman and Rachel Richardson, Environment America and Environment America Research and Policy Centre, 14 April 2016
The report details the amount of water contamination, air pollution, climate impacts and chemical use in fracking in the US. Using industry-reported data, it found that from 2005-2015, fracking used: 5 billion pounds of hydrochloric acid; 1.2 billion pounds of petroleum distillates (which can irritate the throat, lungs and eyes, cause dizziness and nausea and can include toxic and cancer-causing agents) and 445 million pounds of methanol (suspected of causing birth defects).
Final Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement
New York’s Department for Environmental Conservation, 15 May 2015
The outcome of seven years of research. It concluded:
“Even with mitigation measures in place, the risk of spills and other unplanned events resulting in the discharge of toxic pollutants over a wide area would not be eliminated. Moreover, the level of risk such spills pose to public health is highly uncertain.”
Health and well-being
Prenatal Exposure to Unconventional Oil and Gas Operation Chemical Mixtures Altered Mammary Gland Development in Adult Female Mice
Sarah A Sapouckey, Christopher D Kassotis, Susan C Nagel, Laura N Vandenberg
Endocrinology, 7 February 2018
This study concluded that low levels of chemicals used in oil and gas production caused abnormal mammary glands in adult female mice. The mice that were exposed to a mixture of 23 chemicals used in oil and gas fracking developed mammary lesions and enlarged tissues. The authors called for further research on the long-term health of the mammary gland, including its lactational capacity and the risk of cancer. Peer reviewed journal
Hydraulic fracturing and infant health: New evidence from Pennsylvania
Janet Currie, Michael Greenstone and Katherine Meckel
Science Advances, 13 December 2017
This study analysed the records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013, comparing infants born to mothers living at different distances from active fracking sites and those born both before and after fracking was initiated at each site. It found evidence for negative health effects of in utero exposure to fracking sites within 3 km of a mother’s residence, with the largest health impacts seen for in utero exposure within 1 km of fracking sites. The impacts included a greater incidence of low-birth weight babies as well as significant declines in average birth weight. The study found little evidence of health effects at distances beyond 3 km, suggesting that health impacts of fracking are highly local. Peer reviewed journal
Neurodevelopmental and neurological effects of chemicals associated with unconventional oil and natural gas operations and their potential effects on infants and children
Ellen Webb, Julie Moon, Larysa Dyrszka, Brian Rodriguez, Caroline Cox, Heather Patisaul, Sheila Bushkin and Eric London
Reviews on Environmental Health, 25 October 2017
This study concluded that exposure to heavy metals (arsenic and manganese), particulate matter, BTEX, EDCs and PAHs, are linked to adverse neurological and developmental health effects, particularly in infants and children. The authors say studies show that chemicals used in the industry have been linked to serious neurodevelopmental health problems in infants, children and young adults. Early life exposure is associated with learning and neuropsychological deficits, neurodevelopmental disorders, and neurological birth defects, with potentially permanent consequences to brain health. They call for more research to understand the extent of these concerns in the context of unconventional oil and gas. Peer reviewed journal
Measurement of Area and Personal Breathing Zone Concentrations of Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM) during Oil and Gas Extraction Operations, including Hydraulic Fracturing
Esswein EJ, Alexander-Scott M, Snawder J, and Breitenstein M
Journal of Occupational Environmental Hygiene, 20 October 2017
Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) examined diesel particulate matter on oil and gas sites by collecting 104 full-shift air samples In Colorado, North Dakota, Texas, and New Mexico during a four-year period from 2008-2012. The researchers say the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists have not set occupational exposure limits for diesel particulates but California has an exposure average of 20ug/m3. More than 10% of the study’s measurements exceeded these criteria. Peer reviewed journal
Comparative human toxicity impact of electricity produced from Shale Gas and Coal
Lu Chen, Shelie Miller and Brian R Ellis
Environmental Science and Technology, October 2017
The study concludes that the human toxicity impact of electricity produced from shale gas is lower than that from coal. This is also the case in the implausible scenario where all fracturing fluid and untreated produced water is discharged directly to surface water through the lifetime of a well. Peer reviewed journal
Fracking Women: A Feminist Critical Analysis of Hydraulic Fracturing in Pennsylvania
International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, Autumn 2017
This essay, based on 20 qualitative interviews with women living near Pennsylvania fracking sites, found that exposure to fracking has negative impacts on women’s health by increasing their exposure to contaminated water and provoked gendered attacks on activism. Peer reviewed journal
17.6 million Americans live close to active oil and gas wells
Eliza D. Czolowski, Renee L. Santoro, Tanja Srebotnjak, and Seth B.C. Shonkoff
Environmental Health Perspectives, August 2017
This study is the first peer- reviewed nationwide measurement in the United States of the number of people living within one mile of an active oil or gas well. In addition to national figures, the researchers produced a state-by-state comparison. West Virginia has 50% of its population living near an active oil or gas well with Oklahoma close behind at 47%.
The study concludes that given the large numbers of individuals, including 1.4 million under-fives, potentially exposed to pollutants from oil and gas development, health protection policies and regulations, such as minimum set-back distances and wide deployment of air-pollution-technologies, should be considered. Peer-reviewed journal
There’s a World Going on Underground—Infant Mortality and Fracking in Pennsylvania
Christopher Busby and Joseph Mangano
Journal of Environmental Protection, online version 24 April 2017
This study looked at infant mortality in the 10 most heavily fracked countries of Pennsylvania compared with the rest of the state. It compared the period 2007-2010, after fracking developed, with a control period of 2003-2006. It concluded that fracking appeared to be associated with early infant mortality in populations living in counties where the process is carried out. There is some evidence that the effect is associated with private water well density and/or environmental law violations.
Childhood hematologic cancer and residential proximity to oil and gas development
Lisa M. McKenzie, William B. Allshouse, Tim E. Byers, Edward J. Bedrick, Berrin Serdar, John L. Adgate, PLOS One (peer-reviewed journal), 15 February 2017
The authors found that people aged 5-24 in Colorado diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia were 4.3 times as likely to live in the areas with highest density of oil and gas wells than controls. No association was found between well count and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The study team said:
“A number of factors, including genetic predisposition and susceptibility, as well as environmental factors, come together in the development of childhood cancers through a two step process, the first of which likely occurs in utero. Environmental factors that may be associated with [acute lymphocytic leukemia] include in-utero and postnatal exposures to vehicle exhaust fumes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and chemicals including benzene and other hydrocarbons.”
Overview of Silica-Related Clusters in the United States: Will Fracking Operations Become the Next Cluster?
Thomas Quail, Journal of Environmental Health (peer-reviewed journal), January/February 2017
This report on silicosis in the US, argues that industries have impeded government oversight, resulting in silicosis exposure clusters. “The risk of acquiring silicosis is diminished when industry implements safety measures with oversight by governmental agencies. Reputable authorities believe that the current innovative drilling techniques such as fracking will generate future cases of silicosis in the U.S. if safety measures to protect workers are ignored.”
Public health implications of environmental noise associated with unconventional oil and gas development
Jake Hays, Michael McCawley, Seth B.C. Shonkoffd, Science of the Total Environment (peer-reviewed journal), 9 December 2016
This literature review concluded that oil and gas activities produced noise at levels that may increase the risk of adverse health outcomes, including annoyance, sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular disease. More studies that investigate the relationships between noise exposure and human health risks from unconventional oil and gas development were warranted, the authors argued, and policies and mitigation techniques that limit human exposure to noise from oil and gas operations should be considered to reduce health risks.
Public health implications of environmental noise associated with unconventional oil and gas development
Hays J, McCawley M, Shonkoff SB, Science of the Total Environment, 6 December 2016
The authors reviewed the scientific literature on environmental noise exposure to determine the potential concerns, if any, that noise from oil and gas development activities present to public health. They concluded there were many factors that make it hard to determine how noisy work has to be to have an effect on health. But literature indicates that oil and gas activities produce noise at levels that may increase the risk of adverse health outcomes, including annoyance, sleep disturbance, and cardiovascular disease.
Systematic review of the association between oil and natural gas extraction processes and human reproduction
V D Balise, C X Meng, J N Cornelius-Green, C D Kassotis, R Kennedy, S C Nagel, PubMed.Gov, US National Library of Medicine, 25 August 2016
This review identified 45 original published research articles related to oil and gas extraction and human reproductive endpoints. The results suggested there is a negative impact on human reproduction from exposure to oil and gas activities. They indicate moderate evidence for an increased risk of pre-term birth, miscarriage, birth defects, decreased semen quality and prostate cancer. The quality of evidence is low and/or inadequate for stillbirth, sex ratio and birth outcomes associated with parental exposure. It is inconsistent for an increased risk of low birth weight. It found there is ample evidence for disruption of the estrogen, androgen and progesterone receptors by oil and gas chemicals.
Associations between unconventional natural gas development and nasal and sinus, migraine headache, and fatigue symptoms in Pennsylvania
Aaron W. Tustin, Annemarie G. Hirsch, Sara G. Rasmussen, Joan A. Casey, Karen Bandeen-Roche, and Brian S. Schwartz, Environmental Health Perspectives, 25 August 2016
This study by John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health links unconventional natural gas development with nasal and sinus problems, migraine headache and fatigue symptoms in a sample of more than 7,785 patients.
Association Between Unconventional Natural Gas Development in the Marcellus Shale and Asthma Exacerbations
Sara G. Rasmussen, Elizabeth L. Ogburn, Meredith McCormack, Joan A. Casey, Karen Bandeen-Roche, Dione G. Mercer, Brian S. Schwartz. JAMA Internal Medicine, 19 July 2016
This study found a statistical association between people living near unconventional natural gas developments in Pennsylvania and an increased risk of mild, moderate and severe asthma exacerbations. The research says whether these associations are causal awaits further investigation.
When the wind blows. Tracking toxic chemicals in gas fields and impact communities
Elizabeth Crowe, Sharyle Patton, Deborah Thomas, Beverley Thorpe, Coming Clean, 22 June 2016
This report documents a community-based research project to monitor toxic volatile organic compounds in gas fields in rural Pavillion, Wyoming and to test whether the same VOCs were the bodies of people who live and work there. The study was small and not peer-reviewed but it concludes that gas emissions were probably – though not conclusively proven – making their way into people’s bodies.
Potential Hazards of Air Pollutant Emissions from Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas Operations on the Respiratory Health of Children and Infants
E Webbm J Hays, L Dyrszka, B Rodriguez, C Cox, K Huffling, S Bushkin-Bedient, Reviews of Environmental Health, 1 June 2016
This study concluded that air pollution from fracking puts lungs, hearts and immune systems at risk, particularly in young children and infants.
Towards an understanding of the environmental and public health impacts of unconventional natural gas development. A categorical assessment of the peer-reviewed scientific literature 2009-2015
Jake Hayes and Seth Shonroff, Plos One, 20 April 2016
The authors reviewed at least 685 relevant papers had been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. They concluded that 84% of public health studies contained findings that indicated public health hazards, elevated risks or adverse health outcomes; 69% of water quality studies contained findings that indicated potential or actual water contamination; 87% of air quality studies contained findings that indicated elevated air pollutant emissions and/or atmospheric concentrations.
Endocrine Disrupting Activity in Surface Water Associated with a West Virginia Oil and Gas Industry Wastewater Injection Disposal Site
Christopher D. Kassotis, Luke R. Iwanowicz, Denise M. Akob, Isabelle M. Cozzarelli, Adam C. Mumford, William H. Orem, Susan C. Nagel, Science of the Total Environment, 10 April 2016
The study found that samples collected downstream and next to underground injection sites had considerably higher antagonist activity for the estrogen, androgen, progesterone, glucocorticoid and thyroid hormone receptors than samples collected upstream. “Given the widespread use of injection wells for end-disposal of hydraulic fracturing wastewater, these data raise concerns for human and animal health nearby”, the authors said.
Overview of chronic oral toxicity values for chemicals present in hydraulic fracturing fluids, flowback and produced waters
Erin E. Yost, John Stanek, Robert S. DeWoskin, and Lyle D. Burgoon, Environmental Science & Technology, 6 April 2016
The paper reviews the chronic oral toxicity values for a list of 1,173 chemicals that the US Environmental Protection Agency identified as being associated with hydraulic fracturing fluid and the flowback or produced water. The researchers said the lack of data for the majority of chemicals highlights what they call “the significant knowledge gap that exists to assess the potential human health hazards associated with hydraulic fracturing”.
Adequacy of Current State Setbacks for Directional High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus, Barnett, and Niobrara Shale Plays
Marsha Haley, Michael McCawley, Anne C. Epstein, Bob Arrington, and Elizabeth Ferrell Bjerke, Environmental Health Perspectives, 19 February 2016
The authors conclude that setbacks distances between well pad sites and homes may not be sufficient to reduce potential threats to human health in areas where hydraulic fracturing occurs. It is more likely that a combination of reasonable setbacks with controls for other sources of pollution associated with the process will be required.
A systematic evaluation of chemicals in hydraulic-fracturing ﬂuids and wastewater for reproductive and developmental toxicity
Elise G. Elliott, Adrienne S. Ettinger, Brian P. Leaderer, Michael B. Bracken and Nicole C. Dezie in Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental and Epidemiology, 6 January 2016
The study found 157 chemicals used in fracking fluids or present in waste water associated with development or reproductive toxicity or both. There was not enough information about another 781 chemicals and these should be investigated for any health threats, the researchers said.
Compendium of scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking
Third Edition of report by Physicians for Social Responsibility, 14 October 2015
Literature review of peer-reviewed medical and scientific journals, investigative reports by journalists and reports from or commissioned by government agencies. It identifies emerging trends which include: growing evidence that regulations are not capable of preventing harm, threat of fracking to drinking water, drilling and fracking emissions contribute to air pollution and smog at levels known to have health impacts, increasingly well-documented public health problems, gas is a bigger threat to climate than previously believed, earthquakes are a consequence of fracking-related activities in many locations, fracking infrastructure poses potential risks to people living nearby, the economic instabilities of fracking exacerbate public health risks, drilling and fracking can bring naturally-occurring radioactive material to the surface.
Unconventional natural gas development and birth outcomes in Pennsylvania, USA
Joan Casey, David Savitz, Sara Rasmussen, Elizabeth Ogburn, Jonathan Pollack, Dione Mercer, Brian Schwartz, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, published in Epidemiology, 30 September 2015
The authors found an association between unconventional natural gas development activity and preterm birth and high-risk pregnancy. Women living in the most active quartile of drilling and production activity weres associated with a 40% increase in the likelihood of giving birth before 37 weeks and a 30% increase in the chance of the pregnancy being labelled “high risk” by an obstetrician. The authors say they found no association between unconventional activity and birth weight. Future areas for research could be air quality and stress levels, one of the authors said.
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals and oil and natural gas operations: Potential environmental contamination and recommendations to assess complex environmental mixture
Christopher Kassotis, Donald Tillitt, Chung-Ho Lin, Jane McElroy, Susan Nagel, University of Missouri, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, advance publication 27August 2015
The researchers reviewed more than 100 scientific, peer-reviewed publications for links between human development and chemicals used in unconventional oil and gas. They concluded that available research suggests potential adverse health outcomes. They recommended a process to examine the total endocrine disrupting activity from exposure to the mixtures of chemicals used in and resulting from these operations, as well as examining the effects of each chemical on its own.
Environmental and health impacts of ‘fracking’: why epidemiological studies are necessary
Madelon L Finkel and Jake Hays, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 11 August 2015
This commentary concluded there were significant uncertainties about adverse health outcomes that may be associated with high-volume hydraulic fracturing because there are few well-designed epidemiological studies. The authors say this gives them cause for concern.
Unconventional Gas and Oil Drilling Is Associated with Increased Hospital Utilization Rates
Thomas Jemielita , George L. Gerton , Matthew Neidell, Steven Chillrud, et al. PloS ONE, July 15, 2015.
The data suggests that unconventional gas and oil drilling wells were associated with increase inpatient prevalence rates within specific medical categories in Pennsylvania.
Compendium of scientific, medial and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking (unconventional gas and oil extraction)
Concerned Health Professionals of NY, 2nd edition, 11 December 2014
The authors conclude that there is growing evidence that regulations are not capable of preventing harm because the number of wells and attendant infrastructure keeps increasing and because fracking’s many component parts are not controllable.
Taking away David’s sling: environmental justice and land-use conflict in extractive resource development
Amanda Kennedy, Kai A. Schafft and Tanya M. Howard
The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, 2017
The paper title refers to a remark by the US environmental justice lawyer Luke Cole who described environmental justice lawsuits as “another stone in David’s sling”. The paper looks at cases in the United States and Australia where legal and political frameworks have been used to prioritise development and minimise opportunities for community objection. Peer reviewed journal
The Socio-Exposome: Advancing Exposure Science and Environmental Justice in a Post-Genomic Era
Laura Senier, Phil Brown, Sara Shostak and Bridget Hanna
Environmental Sociology, 2017
Scientists coined the term exposome with the aim of listing and measuring environmental exposures as precisely as scientists measure genes and gene expression, taking account of complex in-situ conditions rather than just studying effects under laboratory conditions.. The aim of the socio-exposome is to provide a framework to guide research on assessing health effects of environmental exposures, blending sociological and public health research with insights from environmental justice scholarship and activism. The paper proposes a structure taking account of three levels of exposure – individual, local and global. Peer reviewed journal
A pilot study to assess residential noise exposure near natural gas compressor stations
Meleah D. Boyle, Sutyajeet Soneja, Lesliam Quirós-Alcalá, Laura Dalemarre, Amy R. Sapkota, Thurka Sangaramoorthy, Sacoby Wilson, Donald Milton, Amir Sapkota
PLOS One, 3 April 2017
This study in Doddridge County, West Virginia, concluded that living near a natural gas compressor station could potentially result in high environmental noise exposures.
The housing market impacts of shale gas development
Lucija Muehlenbachs, Elisheba Spiller, and Christopher Timmins, American Economic Review, 14 December 2015
The research conducted in Pennsylvania concluded that home values declined steeply when fracking occurred in neighbourhoods that used well water. But the outcome differed in neighbourhoods that relied on piped water, where home values rose slightly after shale gas drilling.
Activated desorption at heterogeneous interfaces and long-time kinetics of hydrocarbon recovery from nanoporous media
Thomas Lee, Lydéric Bocquet, Benoit Coasne, Nature Communications, 21 June 2016
This preliminary and theoretical study suggests replacing water in fracking wells with high-pressure carbon dioxide. According to modelling, the researchers suggest CO2 could do a better job at releasing gas and it may stay underground. They say CO2 is unlike water, which eventually becomes a molecular seal, trapping gas in the deposit.
Modelling of the number of wells and their likely impact needed to fully exploit shale in the Delaware River Basin
Steven Habicht, Lars Hanson and Paul Faeth, August 2015
The study aimed to model the landscape and estimate the number of wells needed to exploit fully the Marcellus shale in the Delaware River Basin
Well stimulation in California
Volumes two and three, California Council on Science and Technology, 9 July 2015
The study identified the need for more data analysis on fracking in California, management of direct and indirect impacts, waste water management, added protection to avoid groundwater contamination, controls on emissions and their impact on human health.
Fracking’s most wanted: lifting the veil on oil and gas company spills and violations
National Resources Defence Council, 2 April 2015
The report concluded that oil and gas companies in 33 US states could avoid heightened public scrutiny because data about violations of safety and pollution rules were, in effect, hidden from residents. Only Colorado, Pennsylvania and West Virginia made data on violations easily accessible to the public.
Hydraulic Fracking, Shale Energy Development, and Climate Inaction: A New Landscape of Risk in the Trump Era
Anthony Ladd and Richard York
Human Ecology Review, September 2017
This essay highlight what it says are some of the technological risks and socio-environmental impacts of unconventional gas and oil development and how these are likely to be exacerbated by the policies and appointments of the Trump administration. Peer reviewed journal
Produced Water Surface Spills and the Risk for BTEX and Naphthalene Groundwater Contamination
Amanda Shores, Melinda Laituri and Greg Butters
Water, air and soil pollution, November 2017
This research modelled the solute transport of BTEX and naphthalene for a range of spill sizes on contrasting soils overlying groundwater at different depths. The results showed that benzene and toluene were expected to reach human health relevant concentration in groundwater because of their high concentrations in produced water, relatively low solid/liquid partition coefficient and low EPA drinking water limits for these contaminants. The researchers recommended that the surface area selected for a hydraulic-fracturing site should exclude or require extra precaution when considering areas with shallow aquifers and coarsely textured soils. Peer reviewed journal
A detailed risk assessment of shale gas development on headwater streams in the Pennsylvania portion of the Upper Susquehanna River Basin, USA
Kelly O. Maloneya, John A. Young, Stephen P. Faulkner, Atesmachew Hailegiorgis, E. Terrence Slonecker and Lesley E. Milheim
Science of The Total Environment, online version 27 July 2017
This study found infrastructure, water abstraction, and spills from unconventional oil and gas cumulatively affect ecosystems. The use of well density as a proxy for development correlated strongly only with well pad coverage and produced materials but may miss the potential effects of roads, pipelines, water abstraction, and spills.
Sulfide Generation by Dominant Halanaerobium Microorganisms in Hydraulically Fractured Shales
Anne E. Booker, Mikayla A. Borton, Rebecca A. Daly, Susan A. Welch, Carrie D. Nicora, David W. Hoyt, Travis Wilson, Samuel O. Purvine, Richard A. Wolfe, Shikha Sharma, Paula J. Mouser, David R. Cole, Mary S. Lipton, Kelly C. Wrighton, Michael J. Wilkins
mSphere, July 2017
The researchers confirmed strains of the bacteria Halanaerobium in the produced fluids from a well in the Utica shale region of the US. The bacteria had the potential to catalyse thiosulfate-dependent sulfidogenesis. The authors say their work demonstrates that dominant microbial populations in subsurface ecosystems contain the conserved capacity for the reduction of thiosulfate to sulfide and that this process was likely to be occurring. Sulfide generation (also known as “souring”) is considered damaging in the oil and gas industry because of toxicity issues and impacts on corrosion of the subsurface infrastructure.
The geochemistry of naturally occurring methane and saline groundwater in an area of unconventional shale gas development
Jennifer S. Harkness, Thomas H. Darrah, Nathaniel R. Warner, Colin J. Whyte, Myles T. Moore, Romain Millot, Wolfram Kloppmann, Robert B. Jackson and Avner Vengosh
Geochimica and Cosmochima Acta, online version 5 April 2017
This study found evidence of the impact on surface water of fluids accidentally released from nearby shale-gas well pads and oil and gas wastewater disposal sites. It showed that the chemistry and isotope radios of surface waters near known spills or leaks at fracking disposal sites mimicked the composition of Marcellus flowback fluids.
Mobility and persistence of methane in groundwater in a controlled-release field experiment
Aaron Cahil, Colby M Steelman, Olenka Forde, Olykayode Kuloyo, S Emil Ruff, Bernhard Mayer, Ulrich Mayer, Marc Strous, Cathryn Ryan, John A Cherry, Beth L Parker
Nature Geoscience, April 2017
This study looked at the results of a 72-day methane gas injection into a shallow flat-lying aquifer. A significant fraction of methane vented to the atmosphere but an equal portion remained in groundwater. Methane persisted in groundwater despite the active growth of methanotrophic bacteria. The researchers conclude that even small-volume releases of methane gas can cause extensive and persistent free phase and solute plumes emanating from leaks that are detectable only by contaminant hydrogeology monitoring at high resolution.
Unconventional Oil and Gas Spills: Risks, Mitigation Priorities, and State Reporting Requirements
Lauren A. Patterson, Katherine E. Konschnik, Hannah Wiseman, Joseph Fargione, Kelly O. Maloney, Joseph Kiesecker, Jean-Philippe Nicot, Sharon Baruch-Mordo, Sally Entrekin, Anne Trainor, and James E. Saiers, Environmental Science and Technology (peer-reviewed journal), 21 February 2017¶
The authors assessed spill data at unconventional oil and gas sites in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania. They found 2-16% of wells reported a spill each year. Median volumes ranged from 0.5m3 in Pennsylvania to 4.9m3 in New Mexico. The largest spill exceeded 100m3. 75%-94% of spills were within the first three years of well life. 50% were related to storage and moving fluids by flowlines. Reporting rates varied by state, they found. Enhanced and standardized regulatory requirements for reporting spills could improve the accuracy and speed of analyses to identify and prevent spill risks and mitigate potential environmental damage.
Unconventional oil and gas spills: Materials, volumes, and risks to surface waters in four states of the US
Kelly O. Maloney, Sharon Baruch-Mordo, Lauren A. Patterson, Jean-Philippe Nicot, Sally A. Entrekin, Joseph E. Fargione, Joseph M. Kiesecker, Kate E. Konschnik, Joseph N. Ryan, Anne M. Trainor, James E. Saiers, Hannah J. Wiseman, Science of the Total Environment, 30 December 2016
The authors analysed data from 6,622 spills from horizontal UOG wells in four U.S. states. They found that wastewater, crude oil, HF solution and drilling waste were most often spilled. The average distance of spills to the nearest stream was smallest in Pennsylvania. Some spills in all states occurred within current surface water setback regulations.
Risks and mitigation options for on-site storage of wastewater from shale gas and tight oil development
Yusuke Kuwayama, Skyler Roeshot, Alan Krupnick, Nathan Richardson, Jan Mares, Energy Policy, 18 Nov 2016
The authors review current research/information on shale gas and tight oil wastewater storage. They conclude that pit overflows, tank overfills, and liner malfunctions are common spill causes. Tanks lead to smaller and less frequent spills than pits, but are not a magic bullet.
Developing monitoring plans to detect spills related to natural gas production
Harris AE, Hopkinson, and Soeder DJ, Environmental Monitoring Assessments, 29 October 2016
The authors evaluated how commercial off-the-shelf water quality sensors responded to simulated surface water pollution incidents. The concluded that where practical, sensors should be placed at the mouths of small watersheds where drilling activities or spill risks are present, as contaminant travel distance strongly affects concentrations in surface water systems.
Identifying chemicals of concern in hydraulic fracturing fluids used for oil production
William T. Stringfellowa, Mary Kay Camarillo, Jeremy K. Domen, Whitney L. Sandelin, Charuleka Varadharajan, Preston D. Jordan, Matthew T. Reagan, Heather Cooley, Matthew G. Heberger, Jens T. Birkholzer, Environmental Pollution, 13 October 2016
In this review of chemical additives, the authors found the most frequently used chemical additives in oil development were gelling agents, cross-linkers, breakers, clay control agents, iron and scale control agents, corrosion inhibitors, biocides, and various impurities and product stabilizers used as part of commercial mixtures. Hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids, used for matrix acidizing and other purposes, were reported infrequently. A large number and mass of solvents and surface active agents were used, including quaternary ammonia compounds (QACs) and nonionic surfactants. The authors found that different chemicals were used in oil than gas fields. They identified what they called chemicals of concern in oil fields and said environmental day was missing for many chemicals and warranted additional study. Many chemicals which had low hazards for mammals were identified ask potentially hazardous to aquatic environments and the toxicity data was missing from risk analysis.
Statistical analysis of compliance violations for natural gas wells in Pennsylvania
Abualfaraj et al, Energy Policy Journal, Oct 2016
The paper looks at violation reports for natural gas wells in Pennsylvania. The researchers concluded that conventional wells were more likely to have a violation when inspected. But when they compared violation rates relative to the number of active wells they found that, on average, 20% of unconventional wells have violations reported in each year, compared to 3% for conventional wells.
Impact to Underground Sources of Drinking Water and Domestic Wells from Production Well Stimulation and Completion Practices in the Pavillion, Wyoming, Field
Dominic C. DiGiulio and Robert B. Jackson, Environmental Science and Technology 29 March 2016
The authors concluded that fracking operations near Pavillion had an impact on underground sources of drinking water. The study identified chemicals in the water related to substances used in local fracking operation and acid stimulation. They also found energy companies frequently fracked at much shallower depths than previously thought. It also revealed unsafe practices including the dumping of drilling and production fluids containing diesel fuel, high chemical concentrations in unlined pits and a lack of adequate cement barriers to protect groundwater.
Elevated levels of diesel range organic compounds in groundwater near Marcellus gas operations are derived from surface activities
Brian Drollette, Desiree L. Plata, Kathrin Hoelzer, Martin Elsner, Nathaniel R. Warner, Osman Karatum, Megan P. O’Connor, Avner Vengosh, Thomas H. Darrah, Robert K. Nelson, Christopher M. Reddy, Loretta A. Fernandez, and Robert B. Jackson. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 12 October 2015
The authors examined groundwater samples from private residential wells overlying Marcellus shale in north east Pennsylvania. In 64 samples, they found trace levels of volatile organic compounds and low levels of gasoline range and diesel range organic compounds. Analysis revealed the presence of a disclosed high volume hydraulic fracturing additive. The study concluded that the data supported the movement of diesel range organic compounds to ground water via accidental release of fracturing fluid chemicals from the surface, rather than subsurface flow from the shale formation.
Potential of hydraulically induced fractures to communicate with existing wellbores
James Montague and George Pinder, Water Resources Research, 20 October 2015
The authors calculate the probability that new hydraulically fractured wells drilled in New York will intersect with an existing wellbore ranges from 0% to 3.45%. The largest contributing factor is the nearby density of wells. Due diligence by oil and gas companies during construction to identify all nearby wells will have the greatest effect on reducing the likelihood of what the authors describe as “interwellbore communication”.
Is reporting “significant damage” transparent? Assessing fire and explosion risk at oil and gas operations in the United States
Benjamin D. Blair, Lisa M. McKenzie, William B. Allshouse, John L. Adgate
Energy Research and Social Science, July 2017
The objective of this study is to determine the rate of fires and explosions at oil and gas sites in Colorado and Utah, and apply this information to determine how close these incidents are to homes. The researchers found that there were 116 fires and explosions at wells in Colorado between 2006 and 2015 (0.03% of active wells) and 67 fires or explosions in Utah (0.07%). They suggest that the lower rate in Colorado may be due to more lenient self-reporting regime in the state. The average number of residencies within 1609m of the incident ranged between 4 and 31. The researchers believe this is the first systematic analysis of fires and explosions at oil and gas sites. Peer reviewed journal
Citizen Science and Democracy: Participatory Water Monitoring in the Marcellus Shale Fracking Boom
Abby Kinchy, Science as Culture, (peer-reviewed journal), Volume 26, 2017
The author examines the impact of citizen science environmental monitoring projects in fracking areas in the north east US. She concludes that most of the efforts emphasize the collection of “baseline” data, which they view as essential to future efforts to hold polluters accountable. However, these projects tend to channel public concern about fracking toward future scientific controversies, instead of political action now to prevent pollution. Project organizers try to convince volunteers that their work has meaning and that they are being empowered, but future-oriented data collection is often at odds with volunteers’ current-day motivations.
Local land use planning responses to hydraulic fracturing
Carolyn G. Loh & Anna C. Osland, Journal of the American Planning Association, 21 May 2016
This study concludes that the US local regulatory landscape is highly variable and legally uncertain. Most communities have not adopted many fracking regulations but higher-capacity communities and those which have experienced a fracking related accident are more likely to adopt stricter regulations. The study suggests that communities could use existing land use, noise and zoning restrictions to regulate fracking to some degree. Communities with more knowledge and experienced technical staff were more likely to have adopted some regulations to either prevent or address fracking issues.
The 2013–2016 Induced Earthquakes in Harper and Sumner Counties, Southern Kansas
Justin L. Rubinstein, William L. Ellsworth and Sara L. Dougherty
Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 20 February 2018
This study analysed 6,854 earthquakes in southern Kansas between March 2014 and December 2016. The authors concluded that wastewater created during oil and gas production and disposed of by deep injection into underlying rock layers is the probable cause for a surge in earthquakes. Peer reviewed journal
Induced Seismicity in Oklahoma Affects Shallow Groundwater
Chi‐Yuen Wang, Michael Manga, Manoochehr Shirzaei, Matthew Weingarten, Lee‐Ping Wang
Seismological Research Letters, 3 May 2017
This research concluded that induced seismicity in Oklahoma can causes changes of groundwater level over distances more than 150km from the epicentre. The researchers said they tested existing models for the cause. The most consistent model with observations was enhanced crustal permeablity produced by seismic waves, changing aquifer recharge. Sources of the recharge were close to the responding wells and have lateral dimensions of about 100m.
“Who Is at “Fault?'” The Media and the Stories of Induced Seismicity
Jonathan M Fisk, Charles Davis and Benjamin Cole, Politics and Policy, (peer-reviewed journal) 20 February 2017
The authors analysed newspaper coverage of seismic events in Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas linked to injection of fracking wastewater. The concluded that the level of media attention about induced seismicity was linked to issues such as past experience of oil and gas development, the economic clout of the industry, timing and location of quakes and whether the injected waste was from wells in the state or from outside.
Surface uplift and time-dependent seismic hazard due to fluid injection in eastern Texas
Manoochehr Shirzaei1, William L. Ellsworth2, Kristy F. Tiampo, Pablo J. González, Michael Manga. Science. 23 September 2016
The authors say their work shows that wastewater injection in eastern Texas lifted the earth’s surface, detectable up to 8km from the wells. Deformations were seen near the biggest ever recorded quake in eastern Texas (4.8 Timpson earthquake in 2012). They found that the geology of the zone where water is injected can determine whether a quake was likely. In eastern wells buckling happened because a layer of impermeable rock beneath the injection site prevented the pressurised water getting to quake-prone faults further down and the stress was relieved by upward buckling of rocks. In western areas, there was no impermeable layer and high pressure water reached deeper quake-prone faults. The authors also concluded that seismic activity increased even while injection rates declined because of diffusion of pore pressure from earlier periods with higher injection rates.
Hydraulic Fracturing and Seismicity in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin
Gail M. Atkinson, David W. Eaton, Hadi Ghofrani, Dan Walker, Burns Cheadle, Ryan Schultz, Robert Shcherbakov, Kristy Tiampo, Jeff Gu, Rebecca M. Harrington, Yajing Liu, Mirko van der Baan, and Honn Kao, Seismological Research Letters, 30 March 2016
This study finds that in Canada most induced seismicity is highly correlated in time and space with hydraulic fracturing. This is unlike the US, where most induced seismicity is linked to deep disposal of waste water from oil and gas extraction. The study finds that the maximum observed magnitude of events associated with hydraulic fracturing may exceed the predictions of the often-cited relationship between the volume of injected fluid and the maximum expected magnitude.
Hydraulic fracturing and the Crooked Lake Sequences: Insights gleaned from regional seismic networks
Ryan Schultz, Virginia Stern, Mark Novakovic, Gail Atkinson, Yu Jeffrey Gu, Geophysical Research Letters, 23 April 2015
The authors concluded that a new sequence of earthquakes in central Alberta, Canada, are related to hydraulic fracturing.
Earthquakes Induced by Hydraulic Fracturing in Poland Township, Ohio
Robert J. Skoumal, Michael R. Brudzinski, and Brian S. Currie, Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, 6 January 2015
The study linked earthquakes in Poland Township, Ohio, to fracking that activated a previously unknown fault.
Water use, flowback and fracking fluid
An analysis of chemicals and other constituents found in produced water from hydraulically fractured wells in California and the challenges for wastewater management
Emily A.Chitticka and TanjaSrebotnjak
Journal of Environmental Management, 15 December 2017
This research analysed the produced water from 630 wells in California, hydraulically stimulated between April 2014 and June 2015. It found that hazardous and toxic compounds where found in wastewater from 96% of wells. Water from nearly 500 wells contained lead, uranium or other metals. The case study concludes that reporting of the chemical composition of produced water should take more place more often and cover a wider range of chemicals used in the fracking process. It also suggests that current methods of dealing with produced water in Calfornia – open evaporation ponds and underground injection – are inadequate due to the risks involved and that there needs to be more re-use and recycling of wastewater, with adequate controls in place to ensure safety and reliability. Peer reviewed journal
Characterization of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids for wells located in the Marcellus Shale Play
Huan Chen and Kimberly E. Carter
Journal of Environmental Management. Volume 200, online version 4 June 2017
This paper investigated the chemicals introduced into the hydraulic fracturing fluids for completed wells located in Pennsylvania and West Virginia from data provided by the well operators. Of the 517 chemicals listed by the operators, 96 were inorganic compounds, 358 chemicals were organic species, and the remaining 63 cannot be identified. Many toxic organics were used in the hydraulic fracturing fluid, the study concluded, some of them carcinogenic. The breakdown of some chemicals produced toxic and persistent by-products.
Comparison of chemical-use between hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, and routine oil and gas development
William T. Stringfellow, Mary Kay Camarillo, Jeremy K. Domen, Seth B. C. Shonkoff
PLOS One, 19 April 2017
This study compared chemical use in southern California between routine activities in unconventional oil and gas development with the more closely regulated well stimulation activities. The researchers found a significant overlap in the type and volume of chemicals used in unconventional activities and routine activities for well maintenance, well-completion and reworking.
Effects on Biotransformation, Oxidative Stress, and Endocrine Disruption in Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) Exposed to Hydraulic Fracturing Flowback and Produced Water
Yuhe He, Erik J. Folkerts, Yifeng Zhang, Jonathan W. Martin, Daniel S. Alessi, and Greg G. Goss, Environmental Science & Technology (peer-reviewed journal), December 2016
This study, from the University of Alberta, concluded that hydraulic fracturing flowback and produced water could cause significant adverse effects on fish and the organic contents might play the major role in its toxicity.
Downhole Transformation of the Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Biocide Glutaraldehyde: Implications for Flowback and Produced Water Quality
Genevieve A Kahrilas, Jens Blotevogel, Edward R. Corrin, and Thomas Borch, Environmental Science & Technology, 12 September 2016
This study for the American Chemical Society found that the hydraulic fracturing biocide, glutaraldehyde, rapidly autopolymerizes, forming water-soluble dimers and trimers, and eventually precipitates out at high temperatures. Salinity significantly inhibited its transformation. Pressure and shale did not affect transformation. The authors said the findings illustrate that biocidal glutaraldehyde has limited time to control microbial activity in hot and/or alkaline shales, and may return along with its aqueous transformation products to the surface via flowback and produced water in cooler, more acidic and saline shales.
Physical-chemical evaluation of hydraulic fracturing chemicals in the context of produced water treatment
Mary Kay Camarilloa, Jeremy K. Domena, William T. Stringfellowa, Journal of Environmental Management, 31 August 2016
This study concluded that the biocide glutaraldehyde, added to hydraulic fracturing fluid, has limited time to control microbial activity in hot and/or alkaline shales, and may return along with its aqueous transformation products to the surface via flowback and produced water in cooler, more acidic, and saline shales.
Spills of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals on Agricultural Topsoil: Biodegradation, Sorption, and Co-contaminant Interactions
Molly C. McLaughlin, Thomas Borch, and Jens Blotevogel, Environmental Science & Technology, 12 May 2016
This study from Colorado State University finds that polyethylene glycol surfactants used in fracking fluids were completely biodegraded in agricultural topsoil within 42-71 days but their transformation was impeded in the presence of the biocide glutaraldehyde and was completely inhibited by salt at concentrations typical of oil and gas waste water. The researchers say their findings highlight the need to consider co-contaminant effects when evaluating the risk of frack fluid additives and oil and gas waste water constituents in agricultural soils.
Brine Spills Associated with Unconventional Oil Development in North Dakota
Nancy E. Lauer, Jennifer S. Harkness and Avner Vengosh, Environmental Science & Technology, 9 May 2016
This study concluded that 3,900 recent accidental wastewater spills in North Dakota had caused widespread contamination from radioactive materials, heavy metals and corrosive salts, putting the health of people and wildlife at risk.
Indication of Unconventional Oil and Gas Wastewaters Found in Local Surface Waters
US Geological Survey, Duke University and University of Missouri, 9 May 2016
This report looks at the impacts of a deep well injection disposal site on the water quality of a surface stream. It found endocrine disrupting activity at levels high enough to block some hormone receptors and potentially lead to adverse health effects in aquatic organisms. The study did not look at how wastewaters were able to migrate from the disposal site to the surface stream.
Temporal variation in groundwater quality in the Permian Basin of Texas, a region of increasing unconventional oil and gas development
Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, Doug D. Carlton Jr, Brian E. Fontenot, Jesse M. Meik, Jayme L. Walton, Jonathan B. Thacker, Stephanie Korlie, C. Phillip Shelor, Akinde F. Kadjo, Adelaide Clark, Sascha Usenko, Jason S. Hamilton, Phillip M. Mach, Guido F. Verbeck IV, Paul Hudak, Kevin A. Schug, Science of The Total Environment, 26 April 2016
This study found the impact of horizontal drilling and fracking on groundwater quality was not permanent. Researchers found water samples from private wells contained chlorinated solvents, alcohols and aromatic compounds exclusively after multiple unconventional oil wells had been activated within 3.1 miles (5 km) of the sampling sites. Large fluctuations in pH and total organic carbon levels also were detected in addition to a gradual accumulation of bromide. But the study found toxic compounds associated with unconventional drilling may degrade or become diluted over time.
Endocrine disrupting activities of surface water associated with a West Virginia oil and gas industry wastewater disposal site
Christopher D. Kassotisa, Luke R. Iwanowicz, Denise M. Akob, Isabelle M. Cozzarelli, Adam C. Mumford, William H. Orem, Susan C. Nagel, Science of The Total Environment, 10 April 2016
This study from the University of Missouri reported high levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the surface water near a fracking wastewater disposal facility in West Virginia. The study concluded that given the widespread use of injection wells for end-disposal of hydraulic fracturing wastewater, these data raise concerns for human and animal health nearby.
Toxic biocides may not be needed routinely at fracking sites
C&EN, 7 April 2016
The journal of the American Chemical Society reports on research by Rice University and Statoil, which questioned the need for biocides to combat hydrogen sulphide which can corrode pipelines. It said the research found that H2S might be formed by geochemical reactions, rather than microbes and temperatures in wells might be too hot for sulfogenic microbes to survive.
Impact to Underground Sources of Drinking Water and Domestic Wells from Production Well Stimulation and Completion Practices in the Pavillion, Wyoming, Field
Dominic C. DiGiulio and Robert B. Jackson, Environmental Science and Technology, 29 March 2016
This study highlighted levels of benzene in water 50 times above allowable limits from a fracking operation in Wyoming. The research, prompted by local complaints about the smell and taste of water, also revealed chemicals had been dumped in unlined pits and that cement barriers were inadequate.
Water footprint of hydraulic fracturing
Andrew Kondash and Avner Vengosh, Environmental Science & Technology Letters, 15 September 2015
The study looked at the overall water footprint of hydraulic fracturing throughout the US. From 2005-2014, unconventional gas extraction used 708 bn litres and oil used 232 bn litres. Annual water use rates from 2012-14 were 116 bnl (gas) and 66bnl (oil). The authors concluded that while fracking had increased water use and waste water production, the industry’s water use and produced water was lower than other energy extraction methods and represented only a fraction of total industrial water use nationwide.
License to Dump: Despite Ban, New York Permits Pennsylvania to Dump Radioactive Fracking Waste Inside Our Borders
Environmental Advocates of New York, 2015
This study concludes that New York has accepted 460,000 tons of solid fracking waste and 23,000 barrels of liquid waste from Pennsylvania. Leachate from landfills is often treated at wastewater plants, which are not capable of removing radioactivity from water.
The depths of hydraulic fracturing and accompanying water use across the United States
Robert B. Jackson, Ella R Lowry, Amy Pickle∥, Mary Kang, Dominic DiGiulio, and Kaiguang Zhao, Environmental Science and Technology, 21 July 2015
The study found 16% of US wells were fractured less than a mile from the surface and 6% were fractured above 900m. The authors called for special safeguards for shallow wells.
What’s NORMal for Fracking? Estimating Total Radioactivity of Produced Fluids
Lindsey Konkel, University of Iowa, Environmental Health Perspectives, 1 July 2015
Estimates of total reactivity for a mixture of isotopes in liquid fracking waste from the Marcellus Shale.
Study of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 5 June 2015
The EPA’s draft assessment of the potential impacts to drinking water resources from hydraulic fracturing for public comment and peer review. In August, nearly 100,000 Americans urged the EPA to redo the study.
Characterization of hydraulic fracturing flowback water in Colorado: Implications for water treatment
Yaal Lestera, Imma Ferrerb, E. Michael Thurmanb, Kurban A Sitterleya, Julie A Koraka, George Aikenc and Karl G Lindena, in Science of the total environment, 15 April 2015
The authors analysed the chemical composition of oil and gas well flowback water from the Denver-Julesburg basin in Colorado. The flowback contained salts, metals and high levels of dissolved organic matter, comprising fracturing fluid additives and degradation products.
Toxic Stew, What’s in Fracking Wastewater
Tasha Stoiber, Environmental Working Group, March 10, 2015.
Analysis of data from California found waste water from fracking of oil and gas wells was heavily contaminated with chemicals known to causes cancer or reproductive harm.
Chemical constituents and analytical approaches for hydraulic fracturing waters
Imma Ferrer, E. Michael Thurman, Trends in environmental analytical chemistry, February 2015
The study found that organic additives in hydraulic fracturing fluids included solvents, gels, biocides, scale inhibitors, friction reducers, surfactants and other related compounds.
Combustion of available fossil fuel resources sufficient to eliminate the Antarctic Ice Sheet
Ricarda Winkelmann, Anders Levermann, Andy Ridgwell, Ken Caldeira, Science Advances, 11 September 2015
The authors conclude that burning the currently available fossil fuel resources is enough to eliminate the Antarctic ice sheet, which stores water equivalent to 58m in global sea-level rise. Antarctical is projected to become almost ice-free when cumulative fossil fuel emissions reach 10,000 gigatonnes of carbon, contributing to a sea-level rise of 3m per century. The West Antarctic ice sheet becomes unstable with 600-800 GtC of additional carbon emissions.
The Anti-Fracking Movement in Ireland: Perspectives from the Media and Activists
Tamara Steger & Ariel Drehobl
Environmental Communication, 9 November 2017
This study, based on interviews and analysis of articles about fracking in Irish newspapers from April 2013-April 2014, concluded that social mobilization against fracking in Ireland is challenged by a frame war on the credibility of activists, diverse economic interests across national and local scales, and the need for procedural legitimacy in the contribution of science. The researchers said the capacity for social mobilisation was influenced by agenda setting and framing. Peer reviewed journal
Fracking business (as usual)
Report by Friends of the Earth Europe and Food & Water Europe, 8 October 2015
The authors conclude that the European Commission’s recommendations on fracking fail to protect the health of citizens and the environment. They say the recommendations lack the ability to force member states to even make minimal changes to their shale gas regulations. The recommendations also rely too heavily on self-monitoring by the oil and gas industry to control the worst impacts of fracking.
Radioactivity in wastes generated from shale gas exploration and production – North-Eastern Poland
Paweł Jodłowskia, Jan Macudab, Jakub Nowaka and Chau Nguyen Dinh
Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, online version 19 April 2017
This study looked at radioactivity in 64 samples of waste from shale gas exploration. It found a significant enhancement in the radium isotopes Ra-226 and Ra-228 after the fracking process in the return fluids. The radium isotope content of the fluids was comparable with waste from copper and coal mines in Poland.
AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH AND REPORTS
Is increasing coal seam gas well development activity associated with increasing hospitalisation rates in Queensland, Australia? – an Exploratory Analysis 1995-2011.
Werner AK, Cameron CM, Watt K, Vink S, Jagals P, Page A
International Journal of Environmental Research, May 2017
This study found that all-cause hospitalisation rates increased with increasing gas well development. Hospitalisation for blood and immune conditions increased for men and women but rates for circulatory conditions for both genders decreased.
RESEARCH AND REPORTS pre 2015
UK shale gas – where are we now?, Poyry consultancy, February 2014
Oral and written evidence to the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs, investigation into the economic impact on UK energy policy of shale gas and oil, February 2014
Shale gas and water, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management, January 2014
Shale gas and fracking, House of Commons Library standard note, last updated 22nd January 2014
Strategic environmental assessment for further onshore oil and gas licensing, AMEC for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, December 2013
UK shale gas and the environment, ENDS special report, November 2013
Guidance about shale gas and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Department for Energy and Climate Change, July 2013
Shale gas extraction in the UK: a review of hydraulic fracturing, Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering, June 2012
The Impact of Shale Gas on Energy Markets, House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee April 2013
Future Electricity Series, Part 1: power from fossil fuels, Carbon connect, April 2013
The Energy Contract Company Insight, UK Shale Gas: Can the UK replicate the success story , f the US?, The Energy Contract Company, February 2013
UK Energy, Shale Gas, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, September 2012
Britain’s shale gas potential, Institute of Directors, 2012
Cuadrilla and Balcombe
Cuadrilla’s 2014 planning application and related documents
Evidence of Frack Free Balcombe Residents’ Association to the House of Lords Select Committee on the economic impact on UK energy policy of shale gas and oil, January 2014
Critique of Cuadrilla’s plans and proposals for drilling near Balcombe, West Sussex, David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, Glasgow University, August 2013
Cuadrilla oil and gas exploration, Balcombe Environment Agency webpage
Frequently asked questions 2, Environment Agency, August 2013
Frequently asked questions 1, Environment Agency, July 2013
Statement on shallow gas in West Sussex, Cuadrilla Resources, May 2013
Permits and permissions, Cuadrilla
A report on the risks and benefits associated with the proposed exploration for oil at Lower Stumble, Balcombe, Balcombe Parish Council, 2012
Material planning considerations, Department for Communities and Local Government
European Commission Recommendation on the environmental aspects of unconventional oil and gas, January 2014
European Commission report Assessment of the use of substances in hydraulic fracturing of shale gas reservoirs under REACH, September 2013
European Gas: A First Look At EU Shale-Gas Prospects, Deutsche Bank, October 2012
European Parliament report on Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and human health, 2011
Potential public health hazards, exposures and health effects from unconventional natural gas development: Environmental Science and Technology, John Adgate, Bernard Goldstein and Lisa McKenzie, Feburary 2014
Methane leaks from North American Natural Gas Systems, Science, Vol. 343 no. 6172 pp. 733-735, A R Brandt et al, 14 February 2014
Drilling Down, documents reviewed by the New York Times relating to shale gas, December 2013
The economic impact of shale gas development on state and local economies: benefits, costs and uncertainties, Jannette M Barth, Pepacton Institute, New Solutions, 2013
An evaluation of water quality in private drinking water wells near natural gas extraction sites in the Barnett Shale Formation, Environmental Science and Technology, Brian Fontenot et al, July 2013
Source signature of volatile organic compounds from oil and natural gas operations in Northeastern Colorado, Environmental Science and Technology, J B Gilman et al, 2013
Draft plan to study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, US Environmental Protection Agency, 2011
Published scientific papers that will support the ongoing assessment on the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, United States Environmental Protection Agency
Fracking by the Numbers: Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level, Environment America Research & Policy Center, October 2013
Measurements of methane emissions at natural gas production sites in the United States, David T Allen et al, August 2013, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health. New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy. Vol. 22. Iss. 1. January 2012, Michelle Bamberger and Robert E. Oswald.
Fracking the future: How unconventional gas threatens our water, health and climate
This report argues that the unconventional gas is boom is happening too fast, too recklessly and with insufficient concern for the potential impacts on clean air, safe drinking water and a stable climate. The report recommends a nationwide US moratorium on hydraulic fracturing and the unconventional gas industry.