The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Today - May 24, 2011

Rayola Dougher

Rayola Dougher
Posted May 24, 2011

Fuel Fix Blog: U.K Lawmakers Give Shale Gas Drilling a Green Light: British lawmakers said Monday that shale gas resources in Britain should be developed to reduce the country's reliance on imported supplies...The approval makes it likely that Britain will follow in the footsteps of Poland, which last week announced plans for major investment in shale gas to break free of dependence on Russian imports and boost its economy...The Energy and Climate Change Committee said it found no evidence that the fracking process posed a direct risk to underground water aquifers as long as the drilling well was constructed properly. "There has been a lot of hot air recently about the dangers of shale gas drilling, but our inquiry found no evidence to support the main concern -- that U.K. water supplies would be put at risk," said Yeo. "There appears to be nothing inherently dangerous about the process of 'fracking' itself and as long as the integrity of the well is maintained shale gas extraction should be safe." The Wall Street Journal: Gulf Disaster Fuels New Safety Gear: Companies large and small are introducing new devices that address some of the signature failures of the Deepwater Horizon blowout -- from the equipment that failed to seal the well to the lack of technology for stanching the flow of oil into the Gulf. A prime target for innovation is called a blowout preventer, a massive stack of valves that fits around drill pipe that extends into the earth's crust. The device, a rig's last line of defense against an out-of-control oil well, is equipped with hydraulic-powered blades known as a shear ram that cut the pipe as they close around it while attached blocks seal the well...Innovation influenced by the Deepwater Horizon disaster extends beyond blowout prevention. Bornemann Pumps, a German company, has devised a kind of underwater vacuum that uses a high-capacity pump to siphon oil and gas from the leak source. The company contends the "subsea collection system," still under development, is a better way to contain a spill than skimming oil from the sea's surface or breaking down oil molecules with chemical dispersants.

Times Record News: Outlawing of Hydraulic Fracturing Would Halt Exploration: Hydraulic fracturing, also known simply as fracing, has become a controversial process in the oil and gas business. Some landowners, environmental groups and politicians have alleged that fracing is a cause of contamination of water wells. Even though there has never been a proven case of contamination from fracing in its 60-year history, suspicions continue...Hydraulic fracturing has been with the oil and gas industry since the 1950s. Just recently, fracing and horizontal drilling became a very successful one-two punch in releasing natural gas reserves from very tight shale. It has become so successful in the Barnett Shale in North Texas, Haynesville Shale in East Texas and virtually all across the nation that natural gas production in the U.S. has increased. It worked so well in natural gas exploration, some wondered why it wouldn't work for oil in shale, too. Fracing and horizontal drilling has become a popular completion technique in oil wells. Obviously, the technological developments have taken years to perfect. Today, about 90 percent of the wells drilled in the U.S. are fraced. U.S. consumers benefit by having more domestic energy produced in America for Americans. However, if fracing is outlawed, exploration for new reserves in the U.S. would come to a quick halt and have serious repercussions for the economy.

Additional Resources:

CNN: Global Public Square: What Goes into the Price of Gas?

Gant Daily: Study Suggests Businesses Benefitting from Marcellus Shale Development

Energize WV: The Fracking Facts Fracas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rayola Dougher is senior economist at The American Petroleum Institute (API), where she analyzes information, manages projects and develops briefing materials on energy markets and oil industry policy issues. She is the author or co-author of economic research studies covering a diverse range of topics including crude oil and petroleum product markets, gasoline taxes, energy conservation and competition in retail markets. In addition to testifying before federal and state legislators, she has participated in numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews on a wide range of issues affecting the oil industry, including crude oil and gasoline prices, industry taxes and earnings, exploration and production, and refining and marketing topics.

Prior to joining API, Rayola worked at the Institute for Energy Analysis where her research focused on carbon dioxide related issues and international energy demand and supply forecasts. Rayola holds a Masters degree in Economic Development and East Asian studies from the American University and a degree in History and Political Science from the State University of New York at Brockport.