Marcellus Shale from a Geologists View

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The Pennsylvania Council of Professional Geologists (PCPG) released a statement regarding their position on the Marcellus Shale.  The statement makes great points and seems to address most of the questions and concerns the public may have… and it is coming from professionals.  The PCPG breaks up the statement into 9 elements that I have summarized below.

  1. Marcellus natural gas exploration will have a positive effect on PA’s economy, increases US energy independence and has positive implications for air quality due to natural gas’ tendency to be clean burning.
  2. Media sometimes reports erroneous information which often leads to unfounded concerns and confusion.
  3. Environmental concerns are very important in Marcellus drilling and production.
  4. Historically, horizontal drilling and fracing have very few cases of proven adverse impacts on water quality and fracing occurs far below fresh water aquifer zones.
  5. Natural gas drilling and production must be done with the best industry practices and in accordance to environmental regulations and the natural gas industry should be held responsible for deviation from either.
  6. The state agencies should have enough resources to enforce, compose and maintain regulations.
  7. It is important that the industry correctly manages drilling effluent on-site and in treatment facilities with a focus on innovations in reduction, treatment technologies and reuse/recycling systems.
  8. Water management is important when dealing with surface and groundwater used in drilling and fracing through drilling permit application packages and regulation from appropriate local regulatory agencies.
  9. The likelihood of frac fluids impacting drinking water supply is very low but the industry should continue to try reducing the use of hazardous substances and they should make frac fluid formulas public to help lessen unfounded concerns.

At the end of the statement the PCPG closes with some general ideas to help maintain perspective and understanding.  To summarize, there is risk in natural gas exploration, just like most other industries, but this risk can be managed through best practices and regulation.   So ultimately what I took from the statement is that the benefits of natural gas exportation can far out way the risk with the right implementation.

To learn more or read the entire statement, visit the Marcellus Geology Folder in the DI Unconventional Updates.

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Anne Leonard

In January 2015, Anne Leonard headed the team that launched the latest addition to DrillingInfo’s international publications, International Scout Frontier North America which covers the US Gulf of Mexico as well as Maritime and Arctic Canada. She has been reporting on exploration and production for more than 30 years. She began her career in Denver covering the Rocky Mountain Region, and has spent the last 10 years covering the international arena, with a particular focus on Latin America, Africa, Western Europe and the Far East. Anne received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Nebraska.