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The environmental issues associated with producing unconventional oil and gas - Research Paper Example

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Environmental issues associated with producing unconventional oil and gas University Date Executive Summary There is a broad consensus among the international community that unconventional gas sources which were uneconomic could now be tapped with the advances in technology…
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The environmental issues associated with producing unconventional oil and gas
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Download file to see previous pages The US Government, federal regulatory authorities, the industry operators, NGO’s along with environmentalists are therefore engaged in discussions as to the best way forward into this relatively new field, by addressing the concerns of all the stakeholders involved. Introduction Recent advances in technology have made it possible to drill natural gas from deep reservoirs located in energy rich areas of the United States. These fuels are being termed unconventional fuel sources and contribute to around 25% of the fuel consumed in the US. This unconventional source is comparatively a cleaner fuel and produces less greenhouse gas emissions. However data collected in the recent past demonstrate that prolonged GHG emissions have implications on health and environment apart from increasing the carbon footprint. Studies conducted have lead to a new method of calculating GHG emissions and these are now being used by the US Environment Protection Agency, post 2011.These calculations with its additional factors have increased the GHG emissions count significantly but are still quite ‘green’ when compared to other energy sources. To an extent these emissions are being controlled by various methane mitigation strategies. Various programs under the EPA framework are also being brought in to persuade operators in emission control. However lack of concrete data as to the extent of emissions has meant that scientists are still trying to ascertain the impact of these unconventional energy sources on health and environment. Source: Ritter Karin and Emmert Amy, US natural gas production history, 2013 Techniques in natural gas production Different types of geologic formations present different types of oil reservoirs. Porous rock allow for easy flow of oil into a conventional reservoir while shale and sandstone prevents the same because of its low permeability. These kinds of hard rock formations entraining oil and gas can sometimes be located up to 11000 feet beneath the surface. Baken in North Dakota has significant reserves located deep underground its shale formations which cover large basins of geologically depressed areas. (GAO, 2012) Comparing it to the conventional sources, extracting unconventional oil and gas calls for robust technical knowhow and complex knowledge of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracture techniques. Some of the activities involved in extracting unconventional oil and gas are similar to those carried in conventional drilling. Source: GAO, Horizontal drilling and Hydraulic fracturing in unconventional shale formations, 2012 Siting and site preparation involves identifying a potential site for drilling and clearing the area of vegetation. (GAO, 2012) Access roads are laid out and pipelines laid for transport of this gas to an interim containment. In case of abundance of deposits storage tanks may also be built at site for storing of the drilled oil. Drilling, casing and cementing involve installing the steel pipe called casing into the drilled hole and cementing it into place. The drilling is carried out progressively and with each depth additional steel pipe is lowered. The casing is intended to prevent the contents in the well from coming into contact with the outer water table which might lead to contamination. (GAO, 2012) ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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