Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A 10.0 Earthquake - Creation of Man?

Its true, Man can make earthquakes. Now, are we supposed to believe that Man doesn't do it with intention? If Neutrino research is relative to earthquakes (see Christchurch, Fukushima, etc)what can we expect from Shale Oil Research?

Coming to [an Israeli] theatre near you:

Just after 3 0’clock on Sat­ur­day after­noon, as res­i­dents of Youngstown, Ohio were prepar­ing for their New Year’s rev­elry, they got a shock. A 4.0 mag­ni­tude earth­quake shook the town. It was the largest quake in the area since 1986. The first north­east­ern Ohio earth­quake was recorded in 1823, long before frack­ing came to town.

Youngstown is known more for its shut­tered indus­try than its seis­mo­log­i­cal activ­ity. But on Mon­day, geol­o­gists study­ing a series of recent earth­quakes in the area say they’re almost cer­tain deep injec­tion wells caused the tem­blors. Deep injec­tion wells are used to dis­pose of frack­ing waste­water. So frack­ing did not directly cause the earth­quakes, but the deep injec­tions are a part of the gas drilling process. The well thought to be the cul­prit was forced to stop tak­ing frack fluid, even before Saturday’s quake.

The Huff­in­g­ton Post reported on Mon­day that researchers from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Obser­va­tory in Pal­isades, N.Y. say that doesn’t mean the quakes will stop right away.

“Thou­sands of gal­lons of brine were injected daily into the Youngstown well that opened in 2010 until its owner, North­star Dis­posal Ser­vices LLC, agreed Fri­day to stop inject­ing the waste into the earth as a pre­cau­tion while author­i­ties assessed any poten­tial links to the quakes.

After the lat­est and largest quake Sat­ur­day at 4.0 mag­ni­tude, state offi­cials announced their beliefs that inject­ing waste­water near a fault line had cre­ated enough pres­sure to cause seis­mic activ­ity. They said four inac­tive wells within a five-mile radius of the Youngstown well would remain closed. But they also stressed that injec­tion wells are dif­fer­ent from drilling wells that employ fracking.”

Nearly half of all waste get­ting sent down Ohio’s deep wells today comes from Pennsylvania’s Mar­cel­lus Shale production.

Deep injec­tion wells are also called brine dis­posal wells, or class II under­ground injec­tion wells. They can take any fluid related to oil and gas drilling. In Penn­syl­va­nia the wells are reg­u­lated by the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency. The EPA took over the task of per­mits, inspec­tions and enforce­ment from state reg­u­la­tors in 1985. Cur­rently there are only eight per­mit­ted injec­tion wells in Penn­syl­va­nia. Two newly per­mit­ted wells in War­ren County have not yet begun to take frack water. Ohio, how­ever, has more than 180 deep injec­tion wells.

The oil and gas indus­try uses injec­tion wells to dis­pose of waste water, which has a high salt con­tent, as well as chem­i­cals and heavy met­als. Water can also be treated at pri­vate treat­ment facil­i­ties. The process cleans most of the water, but at least some smaller amount of fluid still needs to be injected back into the ground.

No frack­ing is per­mit­ted with deep well injec­tions. The wells are cased, and the waste water is sent thou­sands of feet below the sur­face, usu­ally to a sand­stone, or lime­stone formation.

A new study pre­sented at the meet­ing of the Amer­i­can Geo­phys­i­cal Union in Decem­ber, found a pos­i­tive rela­tion­ship between the amount of fluid injected into a well, and the size of a poten­tial earthquake.

The link between frack­ing and earth­quakes became a huge buzz on the inter­net this sum­mer when a 5.8 earth­quake struck Min­eral, Vir­ginia in August. East Coast­ers aren’t used to earth­quakes, cer­tainly not that large, so many spec­u­lated there was a con­nec­tion. Indus­try spokes­peo­ple said “no frack­ing way” did drilling cause the Vir­ginia quake.

Jim Cole­man, a geol­o­gist with the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey told StateIm­pact at the time that inject­ing fluid under high pres­sure does cause mea­sur­able seis­mic activ­ity. But he says the earth­quakes are typ­i­cally too small to be noticed and didn’t think there was any evi­dence that frack­ing would have caused the Vir­ginia quake.

Some stud­ies look­ing at the earth­quake con­nec­tion to frack­ing are ongo­ing. In Novem­ber, Cuadrilla Resources Inc., con­cluded that their frack­ing oper­a­tions in Black­pool, Eng­land likely caused small earth­quakes. Sci­en­tists with the British Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey are study­ing the link between the small earth­quakes, which reg­is­tered at 2.3 and 1.5 mag­ni­tude, and fracking.

In Sep­tem­ber, Arkansas reg­u­la­tors banned the use of deep injec­tion wells to store waste­water after they found the activ­ity caused a rise in small earth­quakes last win­ter. The Arkansas Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey told the AP last July that seis­mic activ­ity decreased dra­mat­i­cally once the wells were shut down. The Arkansas Oil and Gas Com­mis­sion has not banned frack­ing, only the use of wells to dis­pose of wastewater.

More than 40 years ago, a study con­ducted by the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey attrib­uted a 5.3 mag­ni­tude earth­quake in 1967 to a large injec­tion well at the Rocky Moun­tain Arse­nal in Den­ver, Col­orado. Sev­eral smaller earth­quakes fol­lowed the larger one.

A more recent study by South­ern Methodist Uni­ver­sity and the Uni­ver­sity of Texas also linked a rash of small earth­quakes in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2008 and 2009 to deep injec­tion wells used to dis­pose of nat­ural gas waste­water. But as the study’s authors pointed out, many sim­i­lar wells oper­ated in areas where no seis­mic activ­ity occurred.

The Army Corps of Engi­neers has expressed con­cern about drilling for nat­ural gas near dams and has a national team study­ing the poten­tial impact. The Corps has requested a 3000 foot buffer around dams because it wor­ries that frack­ing near fault lines could cause earth­quakes or shifts in sed­i­ment that would weaken dam struc­tures. CBS 11 News in Dal­las reports that the Corp’s Fort Worth dis­trict wrote a let­ter in Sep­tem­ber to town offi­cials in Grand Prairie, Texas warn­ing them that a nearby Chesa­peake Energy gas well site could poten­tially cause a “cat­a­strophic dam failure.”

And Israel is primed and ready: (maybe the Prophecies are not merely theoretical regarding natural disasters)

Among the serene vineyards and pine trees of Israel's wine-growing heartland, a towering drill is boring 600 metres (2,000 feet) underground, dredging up black rocks that smell like petrol.

This is oil shale, rocks saturated with kerogen, a material that turns into oil and gas under intense heat.

Huge deposits of this kerogen-rich rock lie deep underground in southern and central Israel in quantities which Israel Energy Initiatives (IEI) says could make the country an oil superpower and break its dependence on imports.

Shale oil production is often attacked for its high carbon footprint and for being prohibitively expensive, but the entrepreneurs at IEI insist they have found a cleaner, greener and cheaper method of extraction.

And they plan to prove it in the Ela Valley, a Biblical site in the Judaean hills some 30 kilometres (18 miles) southwest of Jerusalem where David is said to have battled Goliath.

But two years into a first round of experimental drilling, IEI faces a firestorm of criticism from environmentalists who say the project is a dangerous experiment in an ecological corridor that lies over the main source of Israel's limited national water supply.

Oil shale exists in deposits around the world, including major sites in the United States, China, Estonia, Australia and Jordan. IEI believes Israel may be sitting on vast reserves of shale oil, second only to those in the United States.

If their estimates are right, shale oil could have a revolutionary impact on the Jewish state's energy portfolio.

Israel currently consumes around 100 million barrels of oil a year, most of it imported from Russia and former Soviet states. It also relies on natural gas, around 60 percent of which comes from domestic sources while the rest is supplied by Egypt.

And while two major offshore gas finds have raised hopes that Israel could supply its own needs, the shale oil deposits could potentially dwarf these discoveries and provide for Israel's energy needs many times over.

Scott Nguyen is vice-president of technology at IEI, a subsidiary of American telecoms giant IDT. A veteran of Dutch Shell Oil, he wears the tan leather boots and giant belt buckle of his native eastern Texas.

"Even in the early 1900s, people said oil shale will be the heir apparent to oil," Nguyen said. "The difficulty is implementing the technology to make it economic to do it."

The key to oil shale is kerogen, an organic material locked into rocks that, given a few aeons, would develop into petroleum. Production is expensive because it speeds up millions of years of geological processes.

While shale oil has been a known fuel source for centuries, it has always been more expensive and less convenient to produce than crude oil.

In Estonia, which produces 90 percent of its power from oil shale, production has declined as a result of cheaper alternatives and more stringent EU environmental penalties.

Extraction involves mining the rocks and heating them with large amounts of energy to convert the kerogen into oil and gas in a process which spews out pollution, litters the land with spent shale, consumes torrents of water and rips gaping scars in the landscape.

And burning it is four times as polluting as natural gas.

But Harold Vinegar, Nguyen's boss and former chief scientist at Shell, has developed a new form of "in-situ" conversion, which converts the kerogen into shale oil underground, thereby cutting out the mining process.

His method involves drilling 200 metres into the deposit, inserting heating elements, then ratcheting up the temperature to 300 degrees Celsius (572 degrees F) for at least three years. At that heat, the rocks release the kerogen and it can be pumped up in liquid form.

But first, the extraction process, which has been under development since the 1980s, must be shown to work.

To date, IEI has carried out only small-scale field studies of the conversion technology, and should it get the necessary licence to run a full pilot in Israel, it will be the first proper commercial-scale trial of the process.

"If we are successful in implementing our in-situ conversion technology in Israel, it will make it easy to do it around the world," Nguyen said.

For years, the main way of extracting shale oil was through open-pit mining, a dirty process which which is very expensive, with production costs of around $70-$100 per barrel.

But using its technology, Nguyen says the barrel production cost would be $30-40.

And he says the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by extraction would "be lower than the emissions from the mix of comparable oil supplies once we reach the commercial phase."

The firm sees the process of sequestering part of the carbon dioxide emissions as "economical and technically favourable," he says.

No one knows how much oil is trapped in the rocks in Israel.

Vinegar believes there could be up to 250 billion barrels of oil, a figure far higher than that published by the London-based World Energy Council which in November 2010 put the figure at closer to four billion barrels.

Whatever the size of the resource, it is substantial. To date, IEI has invested about $20 million in the appraisal phase, and plans to invest up to $30 million more to design the pilot, which in its next stage involves oil shale exploration.

Nguyen says IEI has carried out some field experiments in Canada, but Israel is the first commercial site.

"There is no prior experience in the world (for in-situ conversion), and therefore this is exactly the time to do it," said Moshe Shirav, a researcher at the Israeli Geological Survey.

Shirav says IEI will keep a close eye on the environmental impact of the process through monitoring wells dug alongside the oil shale drill shafts.

But Akiva Flexer, a geology expert at Tel Aviv University, is concerned about the possible impact on the Mountain Aquifer, Israel's main source of drinking water which lies just 200 metres below the shale oil deposits.

"It's Israel's most important aquifer," Flexer said. "If you have some dry crack, and there's a certain leak it is enough that one drop of oil gets in and you can't drink the water."

But Nguyen says a leak would be out of the question because an impermeable layer of clay separates the shale from the aquifer.

"In the pilot, we will have ground water monitoring wells where water can flow above and below the pilot areas," he said.

"If there is contamination in the water, we will stop heating and treat the contamination by removing and diluting it."

IEI, he says, will fully restore the land where they extract and produce shale oil, and the company is working with environmentalists to ensure their concerns are addressed.

But they have not managed to convince a local activist group called "Save Adullam" which fears the project may do irreversible damage to the aquifer which supplies both Israel and the Palestinians.

"I don't want to risk the safety of the Israeli and Palestinian water supply on the 'hope' that everything will be OK," said spokeswoman Rachel Jacobson.

According to Israel's infrastructure ministry, IEI was granted a licence to appraise the area for oil production from shale with the aim of "testing the method and its impacts from every angle, including, of course, the environmental impact."

So far, however, no environmental impact statement has been prepared, prompting Save Adullam and the Israeli Union for Environmental Defence (IUED) to petition the high court last year for a stop-work injunction.

But the court rejected their argument, saying the exploration fell under Israel's 1952 Petroleum Act which grants energy explorers a free hand to search for oil and gas with minimal government interference.

For now, IEI has drilled into five sites, searching for the best place to start a full-scale pilot, with oil production set to begin as early as 2013.

By 2020, IEI expects to be extracting some 50,000 barrels per day (bpd), representing about a sixth of Israel's daily oil imports, which in 2009 stood at 282,200 bpd, Nguyen says.

Mikhal Harm, secretary general of the Estonian branch of the World Energy Council, said that even Estonia, a leading producer of shale oil, had yet to solve the problem of carbon dioxide emissions.

He also said that in-situ conversion has not yet been proven commercially feasible anywhere in the world.

But he believes the shale oil deposits will end up benefiting Israel.

"The fact is that people need energy, and in the near future oil shale will be a big part of the energy portfolio," he told AFP.

"I don?t think people should be afraid of oil shale in Israel. They should welcome it, but with strict enough rules."

...and they dug wells also in 5772, and that's how the Geulah came!


cy said...

Hmm, earthquakes on the Temple Mount because of the drilling for shale oil? Very interesting scenario.

Anonymous said...

and right out of Israel comes the conversion!!! WOW We love it!!

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