Nov. 9, 2011
FORT WORTH, Texas — Preliminary findings from a study on the use of hydraulic fracturing in shale gas development suggest no direct link to reports of groundwater contamination, the project leader at The University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute said Wednesday.
“From what we’ve seen so far, many of the problems appear to be related to other aspects of drilling operations, such as poor casing or cement jobs, rather than to hydraulic fracturing, per se,” said Dr. Charles ‘Chip’ Groat, a university geology professor and Energy Institute associate director who is leading the project.
Groat provided initial observations from the study, which the Energy Institute is funding, at a briefing in Fort Worth attended by local government officials, regulators, energy company executives, representatives of community groups and others.
The Energy Institute’s final report, expected to be issued early next year, will include an analysis of reports of groundwater contamination ascribed to hydraulic fracturing within North Texas’ Barnett Shale, as well as the Haynesville Shale in East Texas and Northwest Louisiana, and the Marcellus Shale, which includes portions of New York, Pennsylvania and several Appalachian states. Researchers also expect to include an evaluation of allegations of “fugitive” air emissions attributed to equipment leaks, evaporative losses from surface impoundments and spills.
“What we’re trying to do is separate fact from fiction,” Groat said.