Environmental Chemistry Environmental Chemistry Society
Environmental problems - Chemical approaches
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Environmental issues associated with coal seam gas recovery: managing the fracking boom

Graeme E. Batley A C and Rai S. Kookana B

A Centre for Environmental Contaminants Research, CSIRO Land and Water, Locked Bag 2007 Kirrawee NSW 2232, Australia.

B Centre for Environmental Contaminants Research, CSIRO Land and Water, Private Bag 2, Glen Osmond, SA 5064, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: graeme.batley@csiro.au

Environmental Chemistry 9(5) 425-428 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/EN12136
Submitted: 10 September 2012  Accepted: 14 October 2012   Published: 12 November 2012

Environmental context. Coal seam gas reserves are likely to make a major contribution to future energy needs. However, the new technology for exploiting these reserves, termed hydraulic fracturing, raises several environmental issues. We discuss the research required to assess the ecological risks from gas recovery.

Abstract. Coal seam gas reserves represent a major contribution to energy needs, however, gas recovery by hydraulic fracturing (fracking or fraccing), requires management to minimise any environmental effects. Although the industry is adapting where possible to more benign fracking chemicals, there is still a lack of information on exposure to natural and added chemicals, and their fate and ecotoxicity in both the discharged produced and flow-back waters. Geogenic contaminants mobilised from the coal seams during fracking may add to the mixture of chemicals with the potential to affect both ground and surface water quality. The research needs to better assess the ecological risks from gas recovery are discussed.


References

[1]  O. Skagen, Global gas reserves and resources: trends, discontinuities and uncertainties, in SSB/NAEE Workshop, 18 January 2010. Available at www.frisch.uio.no/NAEE/2010/Skagen_NAEE180110.ppt [Verified October 2012].

[2]  A. Al-Jubori, C. Boyer, S. W. Lambert, O. A. Bustos, J. C. Pashin, A. Wray, Coal bed methane: clean energy for the world Oilfield Review 2009, 21, 4.
| 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1MXhtlWksbvI&md5=20607ba19548a484b3d6ab8568974f8eCAS | open url image1

[3]  J. Rutovitz, S. Harris, N. Kuruppu, C. Dunstan, Drilling down. Coal seam gas: a background paper 2011 (Institute of Sustainable Futures, University of Technology: Sydney).

[4]  Handbook on coal bed methane produced water: management and beneficial use alternatives 2003 (ALL Consulting: Tulsa, OK). Available at http://www.all-llc.com/publicdownloads/CBM_BU_Screen.pdf [Verified October 2012].

[5]  Critical proppant selection factors, in FracLine: Oilfield Technology Newsletter (Spring) 2010 (Hexion). Available at http://www.momentivefracline.com/critical-proppant-selection-factors [Verified October 2012].

[6]  C. E. Clark, J. A. Veil, Produced water volumes and management in the United States. Report ANL/EVS/R-09-1 2009 (Argonne National Laboratory: Argonne, IL).

[7]  J. A. Veil, M. G. Puder, D. Elcock, R. J. Redweik, A white paper describing produced water from production of crude oil, natural gas and coal bed methane 2004 (Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL). Available at http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/dsp_detail.cfm?PubID=1715 [Verified October 2012].

[8]  Evaluation of impacts to underground sources of drinking water by hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane reservoirs. US EPA, Office of Water, Office of Ground and Drinking Water, Report EPA 816-R-04-003 2004 (Washington, DC).

[9]  Chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. US House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce Minority Staff Report 2011 (Washington, DC). Available at http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Report%204.18.11.pdf [Verified October 2012].

[10]  Chemicals that may be used in Australian CSG Fraccing Fluids 2010 (Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Limited). Available at http://www.appea.com.au/images/stories/mb_files/APPEA_fraccing_chemicals.pdf [Verified October 2012].

[11]  Plan to study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. US EPA, Office of Research and Development Report EPA/600/R-11/122 2011 (Washington DC).

[12]  M. Stearns, J. A. Tindall, G. Cronin, M. J. Friedel, E. Bergquist, Effects of coal-bed methane discharge waters on the vegetation and soil ecosystem in Powder River Basin, Wyoming. Water Air Soil Pollut. 2005, 168, 33.
Effects of coal-bed methane discharge waters on the vegetation and soil ecosystem in Powder River Basin, Wyoming.CrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2MXht1SmtbjK&md5=a09892c3caba9668695dd5533d194578CAS | open url image1

[13]  S. Wood, O. Patterson, Health and environmental risk assessment of hydraulic fracturing, in Delivering sustainable solutions in a more competitive world: Ecoforum Conference, Sydney, Australia, 9–11 March 2011. Available at www.ecoforum.net.au/2012/powerpoints/e027.pdf [Verified October 2012].

[14]  W. H. Orem, C. A. Tatu, H. E. Lerch, C. A. Rice, T. T. Bartos, A. L. Bates, S. Tewalt, M. D. Corum, Organic compounds in produced waters from coalbed natural gas wells in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, USA Appl. Geochem. 2007, 22, 2240.
Organic compounds in produced waters from coalbed natural gas wells in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, USACrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD2sXhtFeitbrL&md5=c6f85a0ea42884f903f7b3e1e6cfe714CAS | open url image1

[15]  H. Volk, K. Pinetown, C. Johnston, W. McLean, A desktop study of the occurrence of total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) and partially water-soluble organic compounds in Permian coals and associated coal seam groundwater. CSIRO Petroleum and Geothermal Research Portfolio Report EP-13-09-11-11 2011 (Bentley, WA, Australia). Available at http://www.agl.com.au/Downloads/Literature%20Review%20AGL_fin_10101.pdf [Verified October 2012].

[16]  K. Cheung, H. Sanei, P. Klassen, B. Mayer, F. Goodarzi, Produced fluids and shallow groundwater in coalbed methane (CBM) producing regions of Alberta, Canada: trace element and rare earth element geochemistry Int. J. Coal Geol. 2009, 77, 338.
Produced fluids and shallow groundwater in coalbed methane (CBM) producing regions of Alberta, Canada: trace element and rare earth element geochemistryCrossRef | 1:CAS:528:DC%2BD1MXhtVCgur4%3D&md5=c1aa28c2ecd12943679c39c51659bd7aCAS | open url image1

[17]  C. A. Rice, M. S. Ellis, J. H. Bullock, Water co-produced with coalbed methane in the Powder River Basin, Wyoming: preliminary compositional data. US Geological Survey, Open-File Report 00-372 2000 (Denver, CO).


Full Text PDF (84.3 KB) Export Citation