Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Global Frackdown 2013

Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community sends a message to the Governor via morning 405 freeway rush hour traffic. 98 % of the early morning commuters responded by beeping and showing favorable hand gestures, only 2% chose to express themselves with single digits.
Photo and caption courtesy of the Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community

Howdy friends and neighbors of the hills!

Last Saturday was the 2nd annual, Global Frackdown. "Fracktivists" from more than 20 countries took part in events held all around the world to demand their public officials ban the practice of hydraulic fracturing in their communities.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the extraction of oil and gas by injecting water to break rock formations deep underground. 
Fracking a single well can require between two and nine million gallons of water combined with sand and chemicals. Much of the used water returns to the earth’s surface, but contains radium and bromides - cancer-causing, radioactive substances. The toxic chemicals can then float into lakes and rivers or contaminate the ground. 
RT.Com, Global Frackdown: World protests shale gas production

For a look at all the countries that participated, check out the world map at Global Frackdown 2.

For more photos and a video of this year's events, head on over to the "Live Updates" page here.

Here in California, protests were held in:

Culver City
Davis - UC Davis
Los Angeles - USC
Palm Springs
San Diego

In Culver City, anti-fracking organizers arranged a protest march and bike ride around the infamous Inglewood Oil Field. Folks living near this oil field have been dealing with all sorts of problems since they were rousted from their beds back in 2006!

In January of that year, noxious fumes from the Inglewood Oil Field led to the evacuation of dozens of people and affected more than 500 homes. The following month, a similar incident occurred, again prompting an evacuation.  Culver City Patch, "Oil Drilling Standards Fail to Address Issues, Some Say," October 12, 2011

Photo courtesy of the Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community.

The troubles in Culver City brought local folks together and eventually led to the creation of a Community Standards District to regulate oil field activities.

Both the Inglewood and Montebello Hills Oil Fields were owned by Plains Exploration & Production (PXP) until PXP was recently bought out by Freeport McMoRan. "Fracking" has happened in the Inglewood field and some type of hybrid fracking had been proposed for Montebello.

A frack by any other name would still stink

When folks in Montebello started asking questions about the possibility of "fracking" in Montebello, PXP got spooked and sent a letter to the city council.

The letter starts:

It came to our attention that on several occasions, members of the public made erroneous statements that PXP is drilling and completing wells at our Montebello Oil Field utilizing hydraulic fracturing.  For the record, we have not drilled a single well since 2008.  In addition, we reviewed the well records and found no evidence that any well at the Montebello Oil Field was completed using either conventional, or High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF).  Any claim to the contrary is false.

The letter ends:

There is another well completion activity called High Rate Gravel Packing (HRGP) that is also confused with hydraulic fracturing.  The HRGP is ideal in formations that are already permeable and is used for sand control which helps avoid clogging of the wellbore.  The gravel pack method uses a metal screen placed in the wellbore. The surrounding annulus, or space between the well and the outer casing, is packed with gravel, water and additives to limit entry of formation fines and sand into the wellbore.  In this process, the space between the formation and the outer casing is packed, at a high-rate, with gravel that is sized small enough to prevent formation grains and fine particles from mixing and entering the wellbore with the produced fluids, but large enough to be held in place by screens.  Sand and finer particles reduce the life of surface equipment and can reduce oil production.

I hope the information provided above helps correct the misinformation and serves to enhance the understanding of HRGP last used in 2008 at Montebello Oil Field; conventional hydraulic fracturing and HVHF, neither of which has been used at the Montebello Oil Field.

If it walks like a duck...

Now folks, I'm wondering just who is confused about this thing called "High Rate Gravel Packing?"

Remember that Community Standards District set up in Inglewood?  Well,  according to the Q & A for that settlement,

Fracking is regulated by the State of California’s Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). The County is pre-empted from regulating this activity. In Baldwin Hills, PXP currently uses high pressure gravel packing which is considered a type of fracking by the oil industry and experts. However, the current technique used at the oil field is different than hydraulic fracking which is used for shale and coal gas recovery. High pressure gravel packing involves the pumping of water, gravel and a small amount of additives (less than one percent, made predominantly of guar gum) down the well to prevent sand in the formation from plugging the well and is similar to what is done for the completion of water wells that are located in sand aquifers.

The new settlement requires that an independent consultant be retained to conduct a study of the feasibility and potential impacts (including impacts to groundwater and subsidence) of fracturing operations. The current CSD does not require this type of analysis.

Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Los Angeles County, Second District, Baldwin Hills CSD SettlementJuly 5, 2011

In May, the Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD) held their "2013 Water Quality Workshop" and included a whole section called "Hydraulic Fracturing and California's Groundwater."

Hooey! This is what the WRD has to say on the matter:

High-Rate Gravel Packing:  Small scale fracking near the well bore to install gravel pack to improve flows at the oil/gas well and/or to prevent formation sand entry (like a gravel pack in a water well).

Even PXP's own experts have added to the confusion over "fracking!"  Here is an interesting bit o' info from the resume of a PXP employee:

W.H.Moodie Engineering, Inc.
§         9/1997 – 4/2004   Stocker Resources, Plains Exploration and Production  Asset Manager for Arroyo Grande 9/1997 –  1/2000, Asset Manager Mt Poso 2/1999 –  2/2003,  Asset Manager Montebello 3/2003  to present   Have drilled and completed wells using foam in gravel packing techniques at Arroyo Grande, drilled and or recompleted over 300 wells at Mt Poso developing fracturing techniques that made that acquisition a success and provided drilling and production engineering services to the Inglewood assets in 2002, 2003 and 2004 including drilling 47 wells and completing 9 of the new producers with a newly developed fracture packing technique.   Successfully recompleted two exiting wells resulting in significant production increases using a modification of the same technique.  Published a paper on fracture packing SPE #90975 “Multistage Oil-Base Frac-Packing in the Thick Inglewood Field Vickers/Rindge Formation Lends New Life to an Old Producing Field.”
That SPE paper above claims that "Frac packing is a hybrid process that stimulates a reservoir by hydraulically fracturing the formation and accomplishes an annular gravel pack in a single operation."

The last page of this very same paper says, "The frac pack recompletions of two wells in the Montebello field are currently in the planning stages. The zones targeted are at a similar depth to the Vickers/Rindge, and suffer from the same formation damage restrictions, and thus the technique has good potential at Montebello."

The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD)  recently passed a new rule to regulate emissions at oil and gas sites. Now oil and gas companies need to submit reports to the SCAQMD on three types of well stimulation techniques:

Hydraulic fracturing 
Gravel Packing
(The rule applies to all forms and combinations of these techniques!)

The SCAQMD also requires oil and gas companies to submit a list of the chemicals being used.  The public can view these reports here.

Well folks, I don't really care what type of "fracking" is going on, they all sound really BAD for wells located in ALL residential areas, both new and old.

Maybe next year the Global Frackdown will finally take root here in Montebello.

Daisy Mae

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