Fracking, Cracking, fracturing………………………………….for GAS!!

Methane is worse than CO2 in trapping heat………. 25 times efficient than CO2 in trapping heat!!! what else. While cracking, being a gas, obviously, it leaks and gets into the atmosphere. Emission of methane is as good as emission of CO2 from coal based power plants. Countries make tall claims….boasting of energy independence…at what cost? Poor rural population who have no knowledge of science believe the scientists and join the bandwagon……”we don’t have to depend on oil any more!! What a ignorant statement and claim! Methane pollutes the groundwater…you can not just stop this gas from leaking into the aquifers……it is a gas after all!. Explorers are not gods to stop the leakage. Are we not aware of “will-o-the-wisp” that is seen by travellers over bogs, swamps or marshes! Common sense……..when water pipes leak why not gas.

What ever you call, fracking, cracking, fracturing…..it is all the same. Injecting fluids in to shale at high pressure and extract the gas…..natural gas. About 1, 50,000 litres of water mixed with sand and other chemical are required to crack/frack a well….It is reported that in US there are 500 000 such wells….If shale gas can be extracted without any leak, then CO2 can be sequestrated without any leak in the geological formations. No one knows the efficiency of each well…can it sustain for 100 years…50 years..25 years?? …………………….. “but a big part of it is just raw gas that is leaking from the infrastructure”. Their range of 2.3–7.7% loss, with a best guess of 4%, is slightly higher than Cornell’s esti­mate of 2.2–3.8% for shale-gas drilling and production”…..reports “Nature” February 2012 issue. Is it a psychological fear countries create to modulate oil prices from oil rich countries. Let the sensible people to judge.

“Geoffrey Thyne, a petroleum geologist at the University of Wyoming’s Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute, has another sug- gestion for sorting out the fracking puzzle: make companies put an easily identifiable chemical tracer into their proprietary fracking fluid mixture. If it turns up where it’s not supposed to, that would be a smoking gun” (Scientific American, Nov. 2011). Methane itself is a tracer!!

There are various sources for methane……..gas and oil fields, biomass, waste management, fermentation, swamps and bogs (that creates ghost fires), paddy fields, animal dung. Like carbon dioxide, this gas is also produced by human activity. Methane stays in the atmosphere for ten years unlike carbon dioxide that takes greater than 100 years. Like carbon dioxide. methane exerts tremendous influence on the Earth’s atmospheric environment. It is detrimental.

A recent press release by JAMSTEC (11, Sept 2014) states the ratio of OH in the northern and southern hemisphere is the same. This calls for a re-look into the chemistry-climate models says this press release. This research was conducted by 15 scientists across the world and was published in Nature, 11 Sept, 2014. This is a boon to those countries advocating extraction of coal-bed methane. A shot in the arm for the proponents…..encouraging  fracking, cracking and fracturing!! After all there are other sources of methane and why blame coal-gas! Why OH? Well it has the ability to buffer the methane/other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Countries like India, where > 70% population live on groundwater in rural India can not afford to get their source contaminated. For developed countries it is different ball game. These countries can move an ice berg to support water problem or make sea a fresh water lake!! Can we do it…even if you can at what cost. Common sense should prevail when you hear such statements.  When natural “leak” of shale gas from Marcellus and Barnett shales has contaminated the groundwater, how can we expect or infer that fracking can not contaminate the groundwater? Taking small population of samples  to address a larger, rather regional issue, such as groundwater contamination by shale gas, as has been reported in a recent publication, is not correct. If leaking of shale gas into shallow aquifer can be arrested, then it is easy too to pump CO2 in to confined sandstone formation. Problems should be measured with the same logic and not by convenience. Let us not be carried away by big propaganda and new reports. Let us come to basics/fundamental and judge the reality. when gas-hydrates were discovered decades back there was an euphoria……gradually died. Gas-hydrate do exists but technology to extract at a cost lower than the current unit cost of electricity yet to be evolved. Then and now oil and coal are at the top of the ladder!!!. Fracking and cracking will be in the news for some time from now. Oil rich countries will rule the roost for years without fear….for sure.