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Discussion > The price of fracking

RR. So I wrote “… any drilling of a well is very disruptive in a densely populated country like Britain…”. Perhaps I should have continued with "compared with a more sparsely populated country like large parts of the USA". Is this acceptable?

Nov 13, 2016 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Not really. Perhaps I am being too picky, but I would suggest: “… any drilling of a well is potentially very disruptive in a densely populated country like Britain, when compared with more sparsely populated countries, such as parts of the USA

More research needs to be done to verify that statement, but its scientific value might be questionable, given the considerably raised profile of associated problems.

Nov 13, 2016 at 8:49 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

ACK & Radical Rodent

The USA is a bit bigger than the UK (I learned that at school)

The Green Blob have never concerned themselves over the feelings of local people when siting windturbines. They needed open space, and a windy location, but the Green Blob were very happy to site them in school playgrounds provided they got the subsidies.

The USA does have more isolated areas than the UK. In England, there are few areas more than a mile from a road, and in the rest of the UK, very few more than 5 miles away. Roads and vehicular access is a problem for windmills and fracking, but the constraints on construction are the same. Why are different "rules" being applied or assumed for reliable forms of energy, to totally unreliable ones?

Double standards for Green Blobby Subsidy Scammers.

Proper farmers with dirty wellies used to get a "free pass/exemption" for all sorts of buildings and structures. That changed, correctly, 15+(?) years ago, but seemed to be transferred, incorrectly, to Green Blob Scam Farmers, to do what they liked for the "Good of the Planets fastest growing taxpayer funded bank accounts"

If it was good for the goose, they can get stuffed now.

The Government has ensured all crucial offices, teams, departments, hospitals, income tax departments have reliable diesel generators. What about us plebs?

Nov 13, 2016 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie
Your point about dissolving rocks was what triggered my question in the first place. Like French Nuclear Reactors it may take a little time to discover if anyone cut any corners to save a bit of money.

Alternatively with the "right" mix the bases could be left in place to dissolve away naturally after the windmills become derelict.

Nov 14, 2016 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

For info. This link provides a map of existing gas and ol wells in England and Wales and when approximately drilled.

Existing wells

I recollect that some gas wells have onsite generators feeding directly into the grid.


Nov 14, 2016 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

I wish to retract certain statements I made regarding the disposal of fluids into the subsurface that have caused earthquakes in Oklahoma. The US Geological Survey indicates that the majority of the disposed fluids were from conventional wells (co-produced water) and not backflush water from fracked wells.

Nov 14, 2016 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterACK

SandyS, when you dig a trench to fill with concrete to build a house on, all you are really trying to achieve is getting the weight of a house beneath any organic soil (that may rot and compact) and on to sub soil that is stable, ie won't get washed away by rain (sands silts etc) or expand and contract (clay)

In the majority of cases, compacted gravel or hardcore would do just as well, but turning it into a semi sefl levelling liquid that will flow into the gaps and "set" by the addition of cement makes the whole process cheaper, quicker and more reliable. There is no need of steel reinforcement, and should the outside edges be weakened by acid groundwater, so what!?

Foundation pads and bases for drilling kit, windmills, heavy machinery etc, will take vibration and unevenly distributed loading from the structures fixed to it, rather than the static weight of a house. Reinforcement will prevent creeping shattering cracks appearing, and spread the loads. If the concrete is weakened by acid, cracks can appear, and rapid corrosion of the reinforcement will occur. Steel expands when it rusts, so cracks widen.

The process and prevention is very well understood by people with more knowledge than me! But if the dimensions are designed and built right, and the concrete chemistry is specified and delivered correctly, it should not be difficult, complicated or expensive to design against.

Whether in France or the UK, you will find reinforced concrete defences built during WW2 in peaty soils, that were not built to last 10 years!

Nov 14, 2016 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

ACK 10:30 thank you for that, but going back, again, to stuff wot I lerned at skool ...

When drilling for oil, you used "mud". This I now understand was just a lubricating and cooling fluid, as would be used for drilling or machining steel. Mud was used in large quantities and was mainly water, perhaps with clays in it? You could dosome simple analysis of recovered mud to determine the material that the drill bit was going through.

So when drilling a hole to "frack", you use a "mud" drilling fluid?

When you are going to "frack", you fill your previously drilled hole, and any existing cracks, with fracking fluid (mainly water) so that a small explosion will be transmitted through non compressible liquid to the ends of the cracks?

Are these still the 2 different types of fluid used, that your post was seeking to clarify? I appreciate "closely guarded trade secrets" about exact composition do exist and can be commercially sensitive, but climate science has closely guarded trade secrets that actually concern their lack of science and fraudulent use of statistics.

I appreciate the volumes involved with filling a 100mm or 150mm diameter hole 1000metres deep. Are these the volumes involved in fracking fluid as opposed to drilling fluid? Or am I completely missing the point?!

Nov 14, 2016 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


The chemicals in fracking fluids in the UK are freely available ergo no secrets:) I got the Cuadrilla info straight from their website. The biggest shareholder in Cuadrilla is A.J Lucas and you can get better info on their website most of the time.

Nov 15, 2016 at 10:33 PM | Registered CommenterDung

ACK and Radical Rodent

Densly populated areas in the USA only exist in BIG city centres. Outside big city centres some poor housing would be considered countrified by us Brits hehe.

Nov 15, 2016 at 10:37 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, thanks for that info. I did not know that we in the UK can find out about the chemicals that they are still not allowed to be used in the UK. I hope their shelf life has not been exceeded with the lengthy and unnecessary delays.

Nov 16, 2016 at 12:09 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Gwen. Drilling 101 (pars)

As you mentioned drilling mud is used to lubricate and cool the drillbit. It also has other important functions. It carries the small pieces of rock (cuttings) broken off by the rotating drill bit back up to the surface. It does this because the mud is circulated by being forced down the centre of the drilling pipe under pressure, through holes in the drill bit and then ascends to the surface in the space between the rotating drilling pipe and the surface of the already drilled part of the well. At the surface the mud + cuttings are put through a screen and the cuttings removed. The mud is then pumped down the well again.
A more important function is to prevent any subsurface fluids from entering the well, especially if they are under pressure. Because any hydrocarbons found (and perhaps some aquifers) are likely to be under pressures, sometimes high enough to drive them to the surface (causing a blowout) this eventuality must be prevented. This is done by the weight of the drilling mud which presses down and prevents the highly pressured subsurface fluids from entering the wellbore. The mud is made very dense by the addition of minerals such as baryte (barium sulphate). So drilling mud is expensive and drillers don't want to lose it. When drilling some areas there may be a risk of losing the drilling mud into cavities or down open fractures. A loss of drilling mud incident is one of total chaos as engineers used to throw into the well almost anything they could to plug the breach and prevent further loss of valuable drilling mud. In Saskatchewan they used thin strips of flexible plastic (presumably old packing material) and for some reason walnut shells. The downward pressure exerted by the drilling mud should just about balance the fluid pressure exerted by the subsurface fluids. Too much mud weight and the more watery component of the mud (= filtrate) is driven too deeply into the rock strata; too little and the subsurface fluids enter the well endangering it. One of the most important people on the drilling rig was the engineer who watched a big pressure dial and controlled the mud weight (= density). Perhaps this is done automatically now.

A completely different fluid is used for fracking, so the drilling mud must be removed.

Not all wells are drilled with drilling mud, circulating highly compressed air can be used as a substitute. The drill holes are much narrower than conventional wells. I believe these drilling rigs were used in situations where exploratory wells were to be drilled where there was no road access and it would be uneconomic to build one. Rigs would be flown to the drilling site and again it would be uneconomic to fly in heavy drilling mud. The only wells I knew that were drilled this way were in the foothills of the Rockies.

Nov 16, 2016 at 7:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Dung. (10.37pm) So you've forgotten or never been to trailer parks.

Nov 16, 2016 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Dung. (10.37pm) So you've forgotten or never been to trailer parks.

Nov 16, 2016 at 8:05 AM | ACK

ACK, you are using Americanisms again. In the UK, trailers are parked in trailer parks. Mobile Homes and caravans are parked in Mobile Home Parks, and Caravan Parks/Sites.

In the UK, Planners keep giving permission for Mobile Home Parks to be sited on river flood plains, because if water levels rise, being "Mobile" they can be moved. That is why scenes of flood devastation in the UK frequently feature Mobile Homes and Caravans washed into trees and hedges.

Nov 16, 2016 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

ACK 7:59 Fracking Fluid for Beginners (Refresher Course Part 1)

Thank you. That is exactly the sort of clarification and explanation that I was after! It is the volume and toxicity that is the cause and source of much deliberate confusion by the Green Blob, and used to cultivate fear amongst resident, Planning Officers and elected Councillors.

Nov 16, 2016 at 11:06 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golfCharlie. Sorry but in America trailer parks are called trailer parks. To call them caravan parks means that we cannot despise their inhabitants by calling them trailer trash. Caravan or mobile home trash doesn't cut it.
Mobile home parks is a misnomer: most mobile homes aren't (unless there is a violent flood or tornado when they commonly are).

Nov 16, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterACK

Are Mobile Homes of the trailer park variety so called because it is fairly easy to put them on the back of a lorry or two and move them somewhere else. A domesticated Portacabin is how I think of them. With modern materials they are quite a decent place to live we had friends who bought one and lived in it for several years once inside you wouldn't know it was mobile certainly a lot better than a postwar pre-fab.

In the Ohio Horizontal drilling data there seems to be a lot of brine produced as well as the gas and oil. Do you happen to know what they do with it?

Nov 16, 2016 at 12:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

American mobile homes are trailers.

Water (brine) usually is co-produced with oil or gas. Over time the proportion of water produced increases until the value of the hydrocarbons produced fails to offset the costs of lifting fluids out of the well. Co-produced water may be reinjected down field-marginal wells to keep subsurface pressures high so as to drive hydrocarbons towards still producing wells (= secondary production). Alternatively the produced water is disposed of at the surface (rare outside of marine wells) or is injected down water disposal wells (as in Oklahoma).

Nov 16, 2016 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterACK

ACK & SandyS, more useful info on the practicalities of fracking, keep it coming!

ACK & SandyS: UK Legislation, Planning Law, Rights to Occupy, Rent or Own, concerning what is, or isn't a Caravan, or Mobile Home, and how, and where one may be sited, parked, occupied, lived in, are a uniquely British mess. Proceed with care, and good legal advice from a legal expert who understands what I have just written!

Google "Unscrupulous Park Owner". Legislation has recently been changed but ....

People who live in boats, not designated as Houseboats, on rivers, canals etc in the UK, are getting caught in some of the crossfire, without understanding why.

Nov 16, 2016 at 3:31 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie
Getting back onto the subject in hand this is a QI document from Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources with data history and pictures of the Marcellus Shale Play.

Each well requires less than 4,000,000 gallons (US), about 4000m^3 or say 3 OSP (Olympic Swimming Pools) which would cost a UK domestic consumer about £10000.

As far as I can tell from the graphs a Marcellus well will produce in excess of 0.25 Mcfgpd for 10 years and a cumulative output of 2.1 Bcf after 10 years.

Data is confidential for 5 years so it is difficult to know what effect improvements in technology and exploring less/more productive areas has been.

Nov 17, 2016 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

SandyS, thank you for using swimming pools as the correct unit of measurement!

Do we dispose of the liquid because it is the cheapest and most convenient method of disposal? It isn't worth reusing or recycling? Different recipes have to be used for different holes? It is mainly water after all.

I am not trying to pick holes, just get my head around the actual concerns that the Green Blob have caused such a panic about.

Nov 17, 2016 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I think that we are ignoring the fact that the fracking story in the USA is totally different to that which will describe fracking in the UK. The USA is home to some very old wells as well as very new and high tech wells. It is also the case that the geology is massively different in some UK shale plays. I have posted a lot about the extreme thickness of the shale deposits in the North West around Blackpool (a Cuadrilla area). The wells drilled here will be fracked many, many times more than any US well.

Nov 26, 2016 at 6:39 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Dung, I have absolutely no idea how accurate your comment is, or what the consequences, good and bad, might be.

Hopefully, we will soon have some real data, from the UK, to determine whether the horror stories churned out by the Green Blob are founded on fact, or fabrications.

If the Green Blob had not lied about wind's Unreliability, we would not need Hinckley Point. If as children, any of the Green Blob had ever tried to fly a kite, they would have known that wind is unreliable in the UK. Meteorologists would know that, clearly that is what makes Climate Scientists so useless.

Perhaps that is how climate science started, they were never good enough as meteorologists to forecast the weather in 24 hours time, so they reckoned that 10 years might give them some scope for a few lucky guesses. They guessed that wrong too, and they have had over 20 years, and no one has actually noticed it getting any warmer.

Nov 27, 2016 at 1:51 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Mobile home parks is a misnomer: most mobile homes aren't (unless there is a violent flood or tornado when they commonly are).

Nov 16, 2016 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterACK

ACK, I think those are often called "a drag-in" in US parlance. I had a US friend who liked to surf the internet for such things. E.g.

Dec 2, 2016 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart